Is Sleep Really That Important?

Since the start of this pandemic, mental health struggles have not only magnified, but increased. I talk to individuals every day who feel anxious, depressed, fearful, isolated, and frustrated. The way we live our lives has drastically changed, so it is no wonder that many feel this way.

Just this week as I sat across from weary individuals with these same struggles, I realized that in this season we find ourselves in, self-care has been pushed to the back burner. It may seem silly to some to focus on basic self-care needs; however, these needs are the very foundation needed in order to process emotion and thoughts. If our foundations are not solid, it will be challenging to make efforts toward healing.

One such basic need is sleep. For many, this pandemic has forced individuals and families to be home more than ever. This can create a tendency to move away from proper sleep hygiene. I recently took a class regarding the pandemic and mental health. The presenter gave some helpful sleep tips that I’d like to pass on to you (Healthy Driven, Linden Oaks Behavioral Health):

            *Keep a regular schedule. – Get up at the same time every morning and get a full night’s sleep on a regular basis. This helps set your biological clock.

            *Sleep only as much as needed to feel refreshed the next day – This helps to deepen                               sleep.

            *Train yourself to use the bedroom for sleeping only. – This conditions your brain to see                           your bed as a place for sleeping, not for doing anything else.

            *Begin rituals that help you relax each night. – This may include reading a book, taking a bath, or eating a snack.

            *Make sure your bedroom is comfortable. – Bedrooms should be quiet, dark, and cool.

            *Put your clock in a place where you cannot see it. – Watching a clock may interfere                                 with sleep.

            *Put away electronics. – Screen time can stimulate your wake cycle.

It is also important to be cautious of things that can disrupt sleep. It is recommended to:

            *Avoid taking naps.
            *Do not have caffeine after lunch.
            *Do not go to bed hungry or eat a big meal near bedtime.

            *Don’t go to bed unless you are sleepy.

            *Avoid sleeping pills or use cautiously.

            *Do not have alcohol within six hours of bedtime.

            *Do not have any source of nicotine, including cigarettes before bedtime.

            *Avoid tough exercise before bed.

            *Don’t take problems to bed.              (Healthy Driven, Linden Oaks Behavioral Health)

Getting proper sleep is a necessity now more than ever. These tips provide a great framework for building proper sleep habits to ensure better productivity and better physical and mental health.  

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