Improving Your Mental Health with Good Sleep Hygiene

Did you know that poor quality sleep can worsen mental health problems that can, in turn, reinforce the cycle of addiction? According to the American Psychiatric Association, not getting enough sleep can negatively affect your mood and even exacerbate symptoms of depression or anxiety. If you’re facing sleep disturbances alongside your addiction challenges, you may benefit from practicing good sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene refers to the strategies and habits that promote good sleep quality. Adopting good sleep hygiene practices can improve your sleep and help you feel better during the day. Here are a few effective tips to get you started.

1. Overhaul Your Sleep Environment

Your bedroom sleep environment plays a very important role in your quality of sleep. It’s easier to sleep when your environment is clean, quiet, slightly cool, and as dark as possible. Comfortable bedding is also essential. While a new mattress may be your ticket to a good night’s sleep, it’s important to get a bed that suits your body type and sleep style. Take some time to learn about the different kinds of mattresses available, including foam and innerspring in different firmness levels. For example, memory foam mattresses—which come in various styles and accommodate most body types and sleep positions—hug the body to provide excellent relief from pressure points. Shop around and compare prices to find a great mattress to suit your comfort preferences and budget.

2. Exercise for at Least 10 Minutes Daily

According to Greatist, regular exercise can help you fall asleep faster and wake up less often during the night. Physical activity also seems to increase the amount of time we spend in deep sleep, the restorative sleep stage vital to good mental health. Since exercise can help reduce symptoms of anxiety, it can also help you relax in the evenings and shut off your mind a little more easily. Workout whenever you have the time. Even a 10-minute workout in the afternoon is better than nothing! You can even exercise right before bed, as long as you avoid vigorous training.

3. Develop a Relaxing Bedtime Routine

A relaxing bedtime routine can help you separate your sleep from the daily activities that contribute to stress or anxiety. This can help prevent mental health or addiction-related concerns from keeping you awake at night. Make a cup of calming tea, dim the lights, take a bath, meditate, and jot down a to-do list for the next day. You can also read, listen to gentle music, or go on an evening walk. Try to incorporate some relaxation techniques—like writing down the next day’s to-dos in a notebook, guided visualization, and deep breathing—into your bedtime routine to combat stress before hitting the pillow. As long as you limit yourself to calming activities, your routine is entirely up to you!

4. Avoid Certain Foods Before Bed

While certain bedtime snacks, like nuts and fruit, can help you go to sleep feeling satisfied and relaxed, there are certain foods you should avoid before bed at all costs. Foods high in fat or sugar can leave you tossing and turning for hours! Try to also avoid foods and beverages that contain caffeine—even decaffeinated coffee can keep you up at night!

5. Turn Off Your Electronics

You should also avoid looking at screens in the hours leading up to your bedtime. The blue light emitted from electronic screens can disrupt your natural sleep hormones and make you feel wakeful when you should be feeling sleepy. Instead of watching TV or playing games on your phone in the later hours of the evening, try reading a book or listening to a podcast. If possible, turn off your electronics at least an hour before bed so you’re not tempted to use them.

Good quality sleep is important for anyone, especially those who are struggling with addiction and mental health issues like depression and anxiety. Try out these sleep hygiene tips and see if they make a difference in your life. Getting enough sleep at night can make it easier for you to manage your mental health and addiction concerns and hopefully bring a little more energy and happiness into your waking life.

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