According to Harvard Medical School (2019), “Chronic sleep problems affect 50% to 80% of patients in a typical psychiatric practice, compared with 10% to 18% of adults in the general U.S. population.” Based on this statistic alone, there is a major correlation between sleep and your mental health. Those who identify as being challenged with a mental health condition are at a much higher risk of developing or enduring sleep disturbances. For this reason sleep is of the utmost importance as we consider self-care and attending to our minds. Many of us can relate to the person who we see during a meeting or during class who are repeatedly yawning, because they just kept tossing and turning all night. We all have minds that wander and produce the most random and outlandish thoughts, and some of us even have additional physical symptoms of restlessness or tension that can make it difficult to sleep as well. These, along with countless other factors, contribute to why our sleep is not as refreshing as we would prefer it be.
Sleep hygiene, what is it and why the heck is it important? Sleep hygiene is essentially a guideline that researchers and organizations have developed to identify contributing factors to improving sleep. Sleep hygiene recommendations offer suggestions to setting yourself up for peaceful and effective sleep, as well as identify how to wrestle with trying to fall asleep once you’re already in bed. The goal that this guideline is working towards is not only to improve your quality of sleep, but to protect you from exposing your emotional and physical vulnerabilities in the day to come. When we are not well rested the ways in which our mind and body process and respond to the environment differ from how they would with a fully charged battery. Current research does not define all the potential impacts and connections between sleep and mental health, but they have provided extensive research on specific mental health conditions and sleep. The most research provided can be found on the correlation between depression and sleep.
The following table provides strategies for preparing for sleep and how to fall asleep when it is time. I encourage you to make a daily night time routine for yourself so your body can start associating the pattern of behaviors with going to sleep.
Example Sleep Routine:
30 minutes before sleep
- Put on pajamas
- Brush teeth
- Use bathroom
- Read book
- Set alarms
- Go to sleep
It can really be that simple! Here are some extra tips for getting yourself to sleep!
Preparing for Sleep
|Going to Bed|
|Exercise during the day but no more than 4 hours before your bed time!||Take 20 minutes to try and fall asleep, if you can’t fall asleep in that time get out of bed!|
|Avoid caffeine and nicotine 2 hours before bed||If you have to get out of bed spend 10-15 minutes doing something really boring like reading a manual then go back to bed.|
|Stop electronic use 30 minutes to an hour before bed||Complete a progressive muscle relaxation or meditation to relax your body and mind|
|Make sure your room is cool!||Practice our deep breathing technique|
|Take a hot shower|
|Go to bed at the same time, or within 20 minutes of that time every day|
|Set an alarm to make sure you don’t over sleep!|
|If you need a daytime nap keep it to 30 minutes|
-Courtney, Graduate Intern
If you or a loved one is having difficulties with sleep or any other mental health concerns please contact Olive Branch Counseling Associates at 708-633-8000 or visit us at www.olivebranchcounselingassociates.com
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