Up to 70 million Americans live with sleep disorders, according to the American Sleep Association. Studies have found that not getting enough continuous sleep dramatically increases the risks of developing mental health problems. From there the problem only worsens, because things like depression, anxiety, and emotional distress make already troubled sleep more difficult. This is a vicious and dangerous cycle, but there is hope. If you find yourself feeling groggy or forgetful, angry or depressed, it may be time to check the quality of your sleep. Here are some simple ways to get better sleep and achieve good mental health.
Work It Out
Many of us think of exercise as a purely physical experience, but there’s more to it than that. Moderate exercise prompts the body to release endorphins, a potent chemical that creates feelings of joy and makes things like anxiety and depression easier to manage. Aerobic exercise, in particular, is shown to improve mental health. If you follow your usual routine earlier in the morning, you’ll carry around these mental benefits all day, have more energy, and be better prepared to sleep at night. Shaking up your schedule this way could be all the change you need.
Not surprisingly, the pharmaceutical industry has worked overtime to combat sleeping disorders. There are pills and potions in all shapes and sizes, available over the counter or from professional physicians, and there’s no shortage of options. But some people are understandably cautious of adding a new medicine to their regimen, be it out of fear of developing a dependency or encountering an unforeseen side-effect. The good news is that there are natural alternatives that serve the same purpose just as well. Something as simple and safe as aromatherapy can bring about a better, deeper rest, and give your brain the boost it needs to help relax. A variety of plant oils have therapeutic properties and can be bought in major retailers.
A Pause For Thought
Our minds are working around the clock, even when we don’t want them to, which can mean nagging thoughts and fears keeping us up at all hours of the night. The trick is to recognize and control your negative thoughts, which healthy sleep can do. But what do you do if you can’t sleep in the first place? Meditate. Researchers from John Hopkins University analyzed and compiled numerous studies and the recurring conclusion that meditation eases mental stress. Much like exercise, meditation practiced before bed can lead to a relaxed state faster, which means a more meaningful sleep.
Practice Makes Perfect
Given that sleep and mental health are linked, it only makes sense that improving one means improving both. Through small changes like the above, you can make those improvements and see significant changes in how you sleep and how you think. Just remember: no matter what method you pick, you’ll need to commit.