This article was originally written for the Katy Trail Weekly newspaper.
Mental Health is a topic that is important to me because it was my battle with depression, insomnia and anxiety that led me to search for answers outside of traditional Western Medicine.
While there is no magic pill, one way we can all enhance our quality of life and improve mental health, is to practice better sleep etiquette.
Sleep is a funny thing. We tend to fight sleep growing up and treasure a good night’s rest with age.
Sleep disorders affect an estimated 70 million Americans each year, which is troubling when studies show that a lack of sufficient sleep is linked to serious conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, mental illness and obesity and also not surprising as sleep affects every organ system in the body.
If you are not worried about heart disease, it is important to note that insufficient sleep also leads to hormonal imbalance, poor digestion, over-eating, premature aging, poor memory and a weakened immune system.
Experts say, the average adult requires roughly eight hours of sleep each night. The irony is, we live in a society that associates success and achievement with a lack of sleep. We have been programed to believe that we must earn our right to rest and take pride in our trips to Starbucks.
A shout out to all the hustlers out there but sleep is just as important as diet and exercise. Mental Health is wealth and you can improve your overall quality of life with these simple hacks.
10 Simple Hacks for Better, (more restful), Sleep:
- Baths might seem juvenile but a warm epsom salt bath in the evening can be a game changer. The combination can ease tension from the body and relax the smooth muscles.
- Minimize anxiety with a magnesium supplement before bed time. Magnesium, also referred to as “Nature’s Xanax” is one of the most important minerals in the body and often a precursor to insomnia. Ask your healthcare provider if taking a magnesium supplement is right for you and drop by Sundrops to find the perfect fit with their educated staff.
- Sleep in a very dark room. Our bodies operate on a 24-hour cycle known as the circadian rhythm. Circadian rhythms respond to light and affect our physical, mental and behavioral changes. Both natural and artificial light influence our body’s circadian rhythm. When it’s light, our body produces cortisol that makes us feel “alert” and when it is dark, it produces “sleepy” melatonin. If black out curtains are not an option, try a silky sleeping mask.
- Be consistent and avoid napping during the day. Choose a realistic time to settle into bed every evening and your body will naturally begin to wind down and prepare for sleep.
- Skip the tv and phone screens and instead, opt for a book, or magazine. Light from electronic devices at night can confuse our biological clocks and circadian rhythms.
- Keep it cool. We sleep better, longer and deeper when we are cooler. Our body temperature naturally starts to fall as we approach bedtime. If you tend to get hot and sweaty from exercise, avoid evening workouts. Set the room temperature to a cool 68 degrees and it will trigger the body to get ready for sleep.
- Tune into a sleep meditation, or choose a relaxing white noise, like ocean sounds, or rain. This helps to tune out our own mental chaos.
- Save the bed for bed time, not work. If we are prone to working from bed, we condition our brains to stay alert. Don’t get in bed until you are drowsy and then put your phone and emails away.
- Skip spicy foods and heavy meals. Dishes that cause acid reflux, or are slow to digest can disrupt restful sleep. For optimal digestion and sleep, eat 2-3 hours before bed.
- Can’t fall asleep? Get out of bed. Leave the room and do something meditative. Sometimes the pressure to fall asleep can cause anxiety. Find a meditation, or book that relaxes your mind.
**As always, please consult your HCP before adding any new supplements into your daily routine.