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6 Ways to Improve your Sleep and Mental Health

A young woman napping on a white bed, with her wavy hair spread out, dressed in a blue t-shirt and grey shorts.

Sleep is an important part of wellbeing. Mental health struggles can affect how well you sleep, and poor sleep can have a negative impact on your mental health. In this age of frequent screen time and exposure to blue light, getting a good night’s rest is harder than ever. 

One way to help our sleep patterns is to practice good sleep hygiene. What is
sleep hygiene you ask? Well, it is a combination of environmental conditions and daily habits that help us optimize the amount and quality of our sleep. Below we have listed 6 ways to improve your sleep hygiene. Feel free to customize them to suit your life! Even small changes can make a difference.

Have a schedule. This can be tough to do given the variety of daily responsibilities most of us manage! However, having a fixed wake up time helps our bodies establish a sleep rhythm. This is something that can be done gradually.

Avoid screens before bed. To allow our bodies to wind down, it helps to decrease the
amount of exposure to light about 30-60 minutes before our anticipated bedtime. One
can even enhance this impact by using that time to instead engage with a calming sleep
time ritual, such as reading, journaling, or engaging in breath work.

Get that good light. Although it is important to reduce the amount of screen time and blue light exposure we experience, studies show that sunlight is important for our circadian rhythms. Getting some time in the sun, especially towards the beginning of your day, can encourage good sleep.

Your bed is for sleeping! One element of good sleep hygiene is setting the appropriate sleep environment. We’ve mentioned less light, but another way to help ready our mind for sleep is to create a clear association between our beds and rest. This means avoiding doing other activities in bed aside from sleep (and sex).

Limit naps. Given that we’re all sleep deprived, it is tempting to indulge in naps when we get the opportunity! However, this can interrupt establishing a sleep pattern. If you
feel you must nap, try to do so for a short time (no more than 30 minutes) and in the first
part of the day.

Avoid eating late. Food consumption late in the evening often means you are still digesting when it is time to sleep, thus interrupting your body’s ability to wind down. This impacts your sleep rhythm (are we noticing a pattern?). Best to keep any food before bed limited to light snacks.

by: Zaynab Hameeduddin

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