Sweet Dreams

A good night’s sleep is important to one’s physical and mental health. Not getting adequate sleep has been shown to cause irritability, a decrease in cognitive performance, and to place you at risk for several serious health problems, including cardiac disease and diabetes. In terms of your mental health, sleep deprivation can contribute to and be symptoms of many problems, including depression and bipolar disorder. While there is no single solution to sleep disturbance guaranteed to work for everyone, here are some tips to help you catch some zzzz’s.

1. Establish a consistent sleep schedule. If you can be consistent with the time you go to sleep each night, your body will begin to recognize that it’s time for bed. It’s also helpful to establish a consistent time to wake each morning. Yes, even on the weekend-you can throw off your regular schedule by staying up late or sleeping in.

2. Turn off those electronics! Television, computers, tablets, cell phones-they all emit significant amounts of light that confuse our brains into thinking it’s daytime. Turn off your screens at least an hour before bed to allow your body to get into sleep mode.

3. Create a calm, soothing environment for sleep. There are several environmental factors that can get in the way of a good night’s sleep. Make sure the room is a comfortable temperature. Use blinds to block out light from street lamps and the moon. If there is an excess of noise, use a fan or sound machine to help block out. Also, avoid activities in your bedroom that do not involve sleep or intimacy. This will help train your body and mind that the bedroom is a place for relaxing.

4. Watch what you eat. Coffee, pop, certain teas, and even chocolate have caffeine (a stimulant) that makes it difficult for your body to relax and fall asleep. Make sure to not consume any caffeine at least 6 hours prior to bedtime. It can also be helpful to avoid eating a heavy meal too close to bedtime.

5. Exercise! Regular physical activity can promote better sleep, allowing your body to fall asleep faster and to have an overall better night’s sleep. However, be mindful of when you exercise-too much physical activity at the end of the day can energize you, making it hard to fall asleep.