Sleep Can Steal Away In Many Ways
Our lives are often extremely busy. There is so much to do each day—projects at work or school, chores around the house, errands to run, emails and texts to answer, weekend plans to make (or cancel), dogs to walk, kids to pick up…
And in order to get everything done, we sometimes steal something extremely valuable from ourselves.
We rob ourselves of healthy amounts of quality sleep.
We also tend to commit this kind of personal larceny on those rare nights when things are not quite so hectic. We stay up late binge-watching shows or scrolling on social media or just sort of vegging out. We might actually be reluctant to go to bed because we know (whether we think about it consciously or not) that after falling asleep comes waking up—and then you are back to the grind. Why not stay up for a little while longer to enjoy a little me time?
But again, that is just another way we steal sleep from ourselves.
And for some people—you might be one of them—there is the issue of insomnia. No matter when they go to bed, they find themselves tossing and turning rather than getting the rest they need.
No matter why you might be losing sleep, the fact is that sleep is essential.
When You Are Low On Sleep, You Can Pay a High Price
Of course, not getting enough sleep is problematic for a number of different reasons—not the least of which is that being tired all the time can lead to consequences ranging from reduced productivity all the way to dangerous accidents. But for our purposes here, we want to focus on another issue related to not getting enough sleep.
A lack of sleep can have a negative impact on your mental health. It can undermine some of the other hard work you are doing to support your mental well-being. And as a result, you should be motivated to get the sleep you need.
But how can you do it? We have some ideas.
Steal Back the Sleep You Need With These Tips
When it comes to consistently getting a good night’s sleep, it helps to start with something you remember from your childhood: a bedtime.
Setting a regular bedtime (as well as a regular time to get up in the morning) is an important first step to improving the overall quality of your sleep. Your bedtime allows you to work backwards and create a routine that encourages and supports sleep.
For example, it is an excellent idea to put down all of your screens an hour before you plan to sleep because, among other issues, the light from those screens can have a negative impact on our ability to get to sleep. Replace the time you might have spent staring at a screen with a wind-down routine of your own making. Maybe you like to take a bath before bed. You might find some light stretching relaxing. You could write in a gratitude journal or spend some time reading an enjoyable book. You might enjoy some herbal tea or some warm milk before bed. Replacing screen time with dedicated wind-down time is an excellent strategy.
More Options for Good Rest
You might also find it easier to get and stay asleep if you are intentional about making your sleeping space comfortable. Find a pillow you like. Replace a worn out mattress. Have the blankets you need to stay warm and/or the fan you need to keep cool. Declutter the room in which you sleep and make sure it is quiet and dark (though a nightlight can be a good idea, too). A white noise machine or some soothing music or any of a number of online offerings designed to lull you to sleep may also be helpful.
There are a few other things to keep in mind as well. Avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evening—and make healthy choices if you tend to snack in the evening. Don’t get in the habit of taking long naps during the day. Stick to routine even on the weekends.
It might be tempting to think of all of these suggestions as a list of onerous and annoying rules. After all, you are an adult, and the notion of a bedtime might strike you as, well, childish. We would encourage you, instead, to think of your nighttime routine as self-care that truly supports your overall well-being—including underpinning your mental health.
When It Comes to Supporting You, We Never Rest
At Johnstown Heights Behavioral Health, we offer compassionate, personalized, evidence-based mental health care. Whether you are struggling with depression, anxiety, trauma, or other mental health disorders, we can help you make and maintain progress so that you can reclaim your life. You can rest easy knowing we are here to help.