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Sleep Hygiene: Best Practices and its Effect on Mental Health


Sleep hygiene is a phrase that refers to a set of practices, aimed to improve the quality of our sleep. Beyond just sleep time, sleep hygiene includes a variety of measures that work together to provide an ideal environment for restorative sleep. Sleep hygiene is not a luxury!  It is a comprehensive approach to sleep, that includes habits, routines, and environmental elements that support rejuvenating sleep.

The importance of a good night's sleep cannot be stressed enough in today's fast-paced world when the demands of daily living can often be overpowering and intensely overwhelming. Sleep is more than simply a way to relax; it is a critical component of our overall well-being, particularly when it comes to our mental health. In this blog, we’ll learn about the complex relationship between sleep hygiene and its substantial effects on mental health. But first, let us understand what sleep hygiene is!


SLEEP HYGIENE: MEANING AND ITS SIGNIFICANCE


In our modern world, which is characterised by constant connectivity and endless commitments, the importance of sleep goes beyond basic rest. Sleep hygiene is a phrase that refers to a set of practices, aimed to improve the quality of our sleep. Beyond just sleep time, sleep hygiene includes a variety of measures that work together to provide an ideal environment for restorative sleep. Sleep hygiene is not a luxury! It is a comprehensive approach to sleep, that includes habits, routines, and environmental elements that support rejuvenating sleep. By comprehending its relevance, we get insight into how minor changes can result in dramatic gains in our quality of sleep, which promotes mental well-being.

Sleep hygiene refers to the habits and routines that promote good sleep. It includes things like:

  • Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day, even on weekends

  • Creating a relaxing bedtime routine

  • Avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bed

  • Making sure your bedroom is dark, quiet, and cool

But are good sleeping habits so important for our mental health?

Let’s try to find an answer to this question, by understanding the relationship between sleep and mental health.


SLEEP HYGIENE AND MENTAL HEALTH: THE BIDIRECTIONAL RELATIONSHIP


The link between the quality of our sleep and mental health is complex and bidirectional. Quality sleep is essential for mental health because it promotes emotional resilience, improves cognitive performance, and aids in stress management. Poor sleep, on the other hand, might increase the risk of mental health concerns such as anxiety and depression. Let us briefly understand the bidirectional relationship between sleep and mental health!


A. How does poor sleep affect Mental Health?

B. How does Mental Health affect our sleep?

  • Impact of anxiety and racing thoughts on sleep: Whenever we are feeling anxious, our anxiety frequently results in racing thoughts, making it difficult to relax and fall asleep.

  • Impact of Mood Disorders on Sleep: There is an irrefutable link between sleeplessness and mood disorders. Sleep deprivation exacerbates mood disorders, creating a vicious circle.

C. Research studies linking mental well-being and sleep hygiene!

  • Recent research studies provide solid evidence that sleep hygiene has a significant impact on mental health. Good sleep habits can reduce anxiety and depression symptoms, improve emotional regulation, and boost mental resilience. These data-driven insights strengthen the link between sleep hygiene and mental health. According to statistics, people who have poor sleep hygiene are more prone to mood disorders and cognitive impairments. Those who prioritise sleep hygiene, on the other hand, have superior mental health outcomes.

Now that we have understood the relationship between sleep and mental health, let’s dive into understanding and learning about the best practices for improving our sleep hygiene.


Tips & Best Practices for Improving Sleep Hygiene!


It is essential to understand and remember that change does not come immediately. It is important to accept and understand the importance of a gradual and individualised approach to implementing sleep hygiene practices, that are tailored to your circumstances. Small, persistent changes produce long-term results, allowing your body and mind to adjust to new habits. The focus should be laid on learning about tools for dealing with resistance to change, external disturbances, and setbacks, so you can stay on track towards better sleep hygiene.

A step-by-step guide simplifies the process of creating a sleep-friendly environment and practising relaxation exercises. Let’s walk through each approach, understanding the tools we need, to develop a comprehensive sleep hygiene practice, at our speed.


1. Creating a Customised and Regular Sleep Schedule


The importance of a good night's sleep cannot be stressed enough in today's fast-paced world. Sleep is more than simply a way to relax.

When talking about sleep hygiene, consistency is very important because it stabilises your body's internal clock, regulates sleep cycles, and improves overall sleep quality. Transitioning to a new sleep schedule might necessitate a few changes to your bedtime and wake-up time, allowing your body to adapt naturally.


2. Creating a Relaxing Bedtime Routine


A peaceful nighttime ritual can enhance sleep hygiene significantly. For example; You may begin by turning down the bright lights an hour before bed to communicate to your body that it's time to unwind. Activities such as stretching gently, reading a book and listening to relaxing music can further help your body relax. You might also consider taking a warm bath to relax your muscles and cool down your body. By sticking to such a regimen, you'll establish a calm transition to sleep, allowing your body and mind to unwind and prepare for a good night's sleep.


3. Optimising your Sleeping Environment


Creating and maintaining a suitable sleep environment entails controlling aspects such as room temperature, lighting, and noise levels to promote a comfortable setting. Choosing the correct mattress and pillows based on your comfort preferences also aids in physical relaxation and uninterrupted sleep.


4. Limiting the use of Electronics and Stimulants before bedtime


Sleep hygiene is a phrase that refers to a set of practices, aimed to improve the quality of our sleep. Beyond just sleep time, sleep hygiene includes a variety of measures that work together to provide an ideal environment for restorative sleep. Sleep hygiene is not a luxury!  It is a comprehensive approach to sleep, that includes habits, routines, and environmental elements that support rejuvenating sleep.

It is very important to avoid using devices before night because the blue light they emit might affect melatonin production, causing sleep to be delayed and the sleep cycle to be significantly affected. Various stimulants like the consumption of caffeine should also be limited in the afternoon and evening because they can interfere with falling asleep.


5. Learning and Using Relaxation Techniques

Deep breathing and relaxation exercises help to soothe the nervous system, reduce tension, and prepare the body for rest. Using mindfulness practises to quiet rushing thoughts and create mental space for relaxation and result in good quality sleep. If nothing comes to your mind in that moment, try focusing on your breathing pattern, look at how you inhale and how you exhale to bring your attention to the present moment.


6. Avoiding/Limiting Naps during the day


Avoiding or limiting afternoon naps is critical to improving sleep hygiene. While short power naps can sometimes provide a rapid energy boost, prolonged or late-day napping might interrupt your regular sleep cycle and make falling asleep at night more difficult. This practice aids in the maintenance of a constant sleep schedule and guarantees that your body's sleep drive is strong when it comes time for your primary restorative sleep at night.


7. Creating the right association with your bed


Using your bed only for sleeping is an important method for improving sleep hygiene. Your brain associates sleep with your bed when you only use it for sleeping only. Working, watching TV, or using electronic gadgets in bed might build mental associations that interfere with your ability to unwind and fall asleep. By keeping this distance, you reinforce the link between your bed and sleep, making it simpler to fall asleep when you lie down and, as a result, boosting the quality of your sleep.


8. Seeking Professional Assistance, when necessary

Sleep hygiene is a phrase that refers to a set of practices, aimed to improve the quality of our sleep. Beyond just sleep time, sleep hygiene includes a variety of measures that work together to provide an ideal environment for restorative sleep. Sleep hygiene is not a luxury!  It is a comprehensive approach to sleep, that includes habits, routines, and environmental elements that support rejuvenating sleep.

Recognising the importance of obtaining expert help is critical on your journey to better sleep hygiene. While self-care measures are important, there are times when the experience of healthcare experts and sleep specialists is beneficial. These experts can provide personalised insights into your specific issues and customise strategies to address underlying causes influencing your sleep and mental health. Their supervision can provide a planned and effective way to achieve ideal sleep hygiene and, as a result, encourage greater mental health, whether through therapy or medications.


Now that we’ve learned about the best practices for improving sleep hygiene, let us try to practise and prioritise these tips to maintain our sleep hygiene and achieve improved sleep quality and overall well-being. It is important to remember that practising good sleep hygiene isn't just a decision; it's a purposeful and conscious commitment to your mental health.

Having said this, if you are stuck and are not able to implement these practices, consider seeking out therapy as a way to overcome this block. A qualified professional can guide you to find solutions and help you in kick-starting this journey of sleep hygiene and mental well-being.

We, at MentAmigo, understand the need for the comfort and safe space that you may be looking for. Consider checking out our services and finding a therapist that’s right for you.

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1 Comment


Tamrina Matta
Tamrina Matta
Sep 01, 2023

An interesting read explaining the whys and hows of having a good sleep hygiene

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