Have you ever noticed that you may feel more irritable or fatigued on days you don’t get enough sleep? It may seem like everything that can go wrong goes wrong that day, or you might find it harder to get through the day. Not getting quality sleep and enough sleep can negatively impact your mood. There’s an even closer relationship between sleep and mental health. According to the National Institutes of Health, you sleep for about one-third of your day. Without sleep, our body can’t form or maintain the pathways in our brain that allow us to learn, create new memories, and makes concentrating harder. Sleep is essential to a number of brain functions, including neuron communication.
Mental health issues can affect how well you sleep, and poor sleep can adversely affect your mental health. Sleep is a basic human need and critical to physical and psychological health. Age, height, and other variables depend on how much sleep we need. According to the National Sleep Foundation, most adults need about seven to nine hours of restful sleep each night. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (C.D.C.) reported a third of U.S. adults to sleep less than the recommended amount of sleep. Not getting enough sleep is linked with many chronic diseases and conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, anxiety, and depression. Today we will review two tools that can aid with sleep management.
Developing a Nighttime Routine
Variable sleep schedules can promote sleep disturbances. Developing a nighttime routine is a useful tool if you find it difficult to fall asleep. When creating a nighttime routine you want to think of habits that help calm you down and get you ready for bed. Some things you may want to include in your nighttime routine are staying off your phone at least 1 hour before bed, stretching, taking a shower, doing skin care, reading, journaling, listening to white noise or soothing sounds, drinking warm milk, optimizing your sleep environment with scents and adjusting bedroom temperature, limiting caffeine and alcohol intake close to bedtime and having a consistent bed time. These are just a few habits you can add to your nighttime routine. The key here is finding what works for you and being consistent!
Using a Worry Journal
Many mental health issues can be so overwhelming that you can spend your day worrying about the night and the night worrying about the next day. According to the National Institutes of Health, as many as 40 million Americans suffer from chronic, long-term sleeping disorders, with another 20 million reporting occasional sleep issues. Some people find it difficult not to worry at night, so incorporating a worry journal into your nightly routine can be very beneficial. There are many different ways to create a worry journal. Some people use notebooks, loose-leaf paper, or printouts. I will add an example of what a worry journal sheet should incorporate.
A worry journal can include a space for the date, current thought, emotions/ feeling of current thoughts, and solutions. In Dialectical Behavior Therapy, there are only four solutions to a problem. Having a solution section added to the journal can be helpful during moments where a person may feel distressed. I hope after reading this, you will add these tools to your sleep tool kit!