Sleep Hygiene. Importance of sleep for mental well-being

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Sleep Hygiene

In these unprecedented times, to reduce the spread of the pandemic coronavirus infection (COVID-19), governments across the world have adopted "lockdowns" that have confined many people to their homes. If the coronavirus pandemic has made it harder to nod off in the dark, you're not alone. With the bulk folks handling disrupted routines, increased screen time from performing from home, oddly-timed meals. It isn't difficult to pinpoint why so many of us are struggling to get quality sleep. Enough reason to spotlight the importance of 'sleep Hygiene'!

Despite the threat of the coronavirus and its rapid and inescapable disruption to our daily lives, many of us are in a position to control our behaviours and dampen the impact of the emerging pandemic on our sleep.

Cultivating a healthy sleep habit is important; Sleep hygiene enables us to navigate stressful times better within the short term, lowers the prospect of developing persistent sleep problems in the longer run, and gives our immune system a boost.

Some people are so used to sleep deprivation that they don't realize they're tired; instead, they'll see themselves as lazy, lethargic, or not very motivated. Or they'll not think it's unusual to nod off at a movie or while sitting at dinner with friends. Someone considered by relations to be a "good napper," ready to drop off quickly and sleep through anything, may very well be displaying signs of abnormal sleepiness.

Sleep hygiene may sound unimaginative, but it just could also be the simplest thanks to get the sleep you would like during this 24/7 age. Some physiological processes actually become more active during sleep. For example, secretion of certain hormones is boosted, and activity of the pathways within the brain linked to learning and memory increases. A good way to start sleep hygiene is by discussing it with Psychotherapist. You can easily approach a free mental health helpline (Mpower 1 on 1 free 24*7 mental health helpline no. 1800120820050) for the same.

Here are some simple tips for making sleep your priority thereby improving your lifestyle, health and immunity.
Daytime tips to help with sleep

  • Consistency is the key - Fix a wake-up time each day of the week. A regular wake time helps to line your body's natural clock (circadian rhythm, one among the most ways our bodies regulate sleep). The best thanks to avoid the Sunday blues is to take care of an equivalent wake-up time and bedtime on the weekends as during weekdays.
    Stick to a daily schedule- for meals, exercise, and other activities. Paying attention to your body cues, and finding the rhythm that works for you will help you to adapt and maintain in this "new normal'. Make this a priority for all members of the household.
  • Get Morning light- Light is the main controller of the natural body clock, and regular exposure to light in the morning helps to set the body's clock each day. Natural sunlight is best, as even cloudy days provide over double the sunshine intensity of indoor lighting. Try to expose yourself to natural light by stepping outside, at a distance from others, for a minimum of 20 minutes.
  • Nap Early-Or Not at All- for those who find falling asleep or staying asleep through the night problematic, afternoon napping may be one of the culprits. This is because late-day naps decrease sleep drive. If you want to nap, it's better to keep it short and before 5 p.m.
  • Exercise early- Exercise can help you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly. Exercise stimulates the body to secrete the strain hormone cortisol, which helps activate the alerting mechanism within the brain. Try to finish exercising a minimum of three hours before bed.
  • Avoid Caffeine, Alcohol, Nicotine, and Other Chemicals that Intrude with Sleep- Avoid caffeine (found in coffee, tea, chocolate, cola, and some pain relievers) for four to six hours before bedtime. Although alcohol may help cause sleep, after a couple of hours it acts as a stimulant, increasing the amount of awakenings and usually decreasing the standard of sleep later in the night.
  • Night-time tips to help with sleep

  • Screen time and gadget usage- Cell phones, tablets, and all electronic devices make it harder for your brain to turn off, and the light (even dim light) from devices may delay the discharge of the hormone melatonin, interfering together with your body clock. If you want to use your device, use a program that reduces blue light exposure, like Night Shift in Apple products or f.lux for Android devices. Keep your gadgets outside the bedroom.
  • Reduce stress- Bedtime hour or evening is a good time to perform relaxation, slow breathing. There are free resources available for bedtime meditation.
  • Create comfortable sleep environment- Ease the transition from wake time to sleep time with a period of relaxing activities an hour or so before bed. Take a bath (the rise, then fall in body temperature promotes doziness), read a book, refrain from screen exposure. Avoid stressful, stimulating activities or discussing emotional issues. Physically and psychologically stressful activities can cause the body to secrete the strain hormone cortisol, which is related to increasing alertness. If you tend to take your problems to bed, try writing them down-and then putting them aside. A quiet, dark, and soothing environment can help promote sound slumber. It may help to limit your bedroom activities to sleep and sex only.
  • Don't spend too much time in bed awake- If you are struggling with getting sleep or staying asleep, avoid staying up in bed for more than 2 minutes. Go out of bed and do a quiet activity like reading a book, folding laundry, or any boring work.

Sleep disturbance, particularly insomnia, is affecting your functioning for more than a month then you should consider consulting Physician, Psychiatrist, and Psychologist . Physicians may screen problem sleepers for symptoms of depression, anxiety or other psychological problems or traumatic experiences. Approaching a mental health helpline ( Mpower 1 on 1 free 24*7 mental health helpline no. 1800120820050) is good for this purpose if you are clueless about where to find a mental health professional.
Remember don't stress about sleep- Sleep disturbance is a normal response to stress. and it's okay to possess a couple of nights of poor sleep as you accustomed to new routines and large changes to your work and personal life. With some simple measures you can improve your sleep quality and thereby your wellbeing. We cannot control what is happening all over the world presently but we can definitely control our behaviour and reduce the impact of unprecedented times.

Also read, Significance of sleep for mental well-being and physiological functions.