We all know sleep is an essential part of our health. It can affect your metabolism, your immune system, stress level, and your overall mood. About 10% to 18% of adults suffer from some sort of sleep disorder, whether that be insomnia, sleep apnea, or narcolepsy. What’s concerning is that those who suffer from a mental health illness such as anxiety or depression are predisposed to these sleep disorders. Not only does anxiety or depression cause and fuel sleep disorders but those sleep disorders can also fuel your mental health illness! We all know that feeling of lying awake all night, not being able to sleep and the second you drift off, your alarm clock goes off. You wake up groggy and unable to perform the daily tasks that need to get done, which can feed your anxiety througout the day. So, what can you do to make sure you’re getting the best sleep possible? Here are a few tips to keep that sleep “hygiene” in tip-top shape. 

1. Create a relaxing night time routine

Set aside thirty minutes before you crawl into bed for your sleep “routine”. Maybe this looks like making your favorite chamomile tea, dimming the lights, turning off your phone (or setting it to “do not disturb”) and reflecting on the day through journaling. The more you create a routine that tells your mind and body that it’s time to wind down, the easier it will be to relax when you crawl into bed. 

2. Go to sleep around the same time every night. 

As humans, we thrive on routine. Our body’s natural circadian rhythm is programmed to kick in around relatively the same time every night. By prolonging your bedtime, going to bed too early, or by spending too much time in bed during the day, you can alter your body’s natural rhythm. To prevent this, begin your nighttime routine around the same time every night, this may be hard to set your schedule at first but your body will adjust! 

3. Once you’re in bed, try relaxation techniques. 

So you’ve completed your nighttime routine, your teeth are brushed and you’re under the covers..now what? If you have trouble turning off your brain at night, try something different. Reading before bed can get your mind off of the day that’s already behind you and the one that’s ahead of you. Journaling can also have a cathartic effect before bed. If you’re able to get your  thoughts out of your head and down on paper it can help ward off intrusive thoughts while trying to fall asleep. Lastly, if these things don’t work, try a meditation app to calm your mind and body. Body scan meditations are helpful before bed because of the attention they allow you to bring to every muscle in your body and intentionally release tension.  By incorporating these simple practices you’ll create an enjoyable, relaxing nighttime routine that will allow you to get as much rest as possible for your day ahead. Your mind and your body will thank you!

-Rachael Trivette