There are lots of ways in which we can struggle with sleep, including nightmares, broken sleep, oversleeping, undersleeping, and much more.
But how exactly does sleep impact our mental health and what can we do to fix it?
Let’s start with the impacts of sleep (or lack of sleep) affects our mental health.
We can suffer from:
- lack of energy
- feeling irritable, low, and generally negative
- poor concentration, making it difficult to focus on daily tasks
- prolonged periods of lack of sleep (or sleep deprivation) can lead to hallucinations.
Another problem some people struggle with is oversleeping. When linked to mental illness or poor mental health, this can be to try to escape reality and to stop our thoughts from racing. It might seem like an ideal solution, but in the long term, it can become a problem. Life can’t be avoided. The problems are still going to be there when you wake up, and you’ll probably feel groggy as hell from sleeping for too long.
So what can we do to help with our sleep?
There are things we can do both before and during sleep to help us get the amount we need (which, by the way, is not necessarily the standard eight hours that people preach – each person has an individual need for a certain amount of sleep, for some people this can be as little as 4-6 hours, for some, 10 hours might be needed. It’s up to you to figure out what your body needs).
Anyway, what can we do to help our sleep?
The main idea behind getting a good night’s sleep is preparation. Rushing into your home and collapsing into bed might feel great at the time but it’s not going to lead to a good night’s sleep. So here are some things we can do to improve our chances of sleeping well and for an adequate amount of time:
- If you are prescribed any sleep medication, make sure you take it in the correct dose and at the appropriate time. If it’s going to take a couple of hours to kick in, make sure you take it a couple of hours before you need to fall asleep.
- Try to limit your screen-time (phone, laptop, tablet etc) for at least an hour before going to bed.
- Try a meditation app like Headspace or Calm as you lie down in bed.
- Make sure your room is a comfortable temperature; open the window if you need to, or grab an extra blanket if it’s cold.
- Try to shut out as much light as possible. You can do this by investing in some blackout curtains or using an eye-mask.
- Lavender spray on your pillow is said to help induce natural sleep.
- Try not to sleep in the clothes you’ve been wearing all day, even if you’ve been in pyjamas all day – put on a new pair before you go to bed.
- Try to avoid caffeine for at least four hours before you go to bed. If you’re thirsty, try warm milk or just water (but not too much, or you’ll wake up needing to pee!)
If you have tried these tips and you’re still struggling with poor sleep that is affecting your quality of life, it might be a good idea to visit your GP. It could be possible that you are suffering from a sleep disorder, or perhaps you require more specialist treatment.
Let me know if any of these tips work for you. Also, feel free to comment below if you have some tips of your own!