Mental Health Awareness Week
Mental Health Awareness Week runs from 18th May to 22nd May 2020. If ever there was a year to look after our mental health then this is it as we enter week 8 of lock down due to the coronavirus pandemic. We often neglect to look after our mind in what is usually our very busy world, yet our mental health is so important to our everyday life. The focus of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is SLEEP. Below we have shared some tips which I hope you find useful.
The benefits of sleep
A good night’s sleep is vital to our physical health and emotional wellbeing. That is why the benefits of good sleep should never be underestimated and getting a proper rest on a regular basis is not just a good idea, it is an essential one. The Sleep Council give us 10 reasons why good sleep can benefit us all.
1. Sleep helps reduce stress
If your body doesn’t get enough sleep, it can react by producing an elevated level of stress hormones, which are a natural result of today’s fast-paced lifestyles. Deep and regular sleep can help prevent this.
2. Sleep can improve your memory
Ever noticed that when you’re really tired it’s harder to remember things? Basically, this is your brain telling you that it’s not getting enough sleep. When you sleep well, your body may be resting but your brain is busy organising and storing memories. So getting more quality sleep will help you remember and process things better.
3. Sleep can lower your blood pressure
Higher blood pressure increases your chance of heart attacks and strokes, but getting plenty of restful sleep encourages a constant state of relaxation that can help reduce blood pressure and generally keep it under control.
4. Sleep helps your body to fight back
While you’re sleeping your body is producing extra protein molecules that can strengthen your ability to fight infections. If you’re feeling a bit run down and don’t want it to turn into a full-blown cold, go to bed early and get lots of rest.
5. Sleep can help you maintain your weight
Unfortunately, sleep won’t directly make you lose weight, but it can help you keep it under control by regulating the hormones that affect your appetite and reducing your cravings for high calorie foods.
6. Sleep puts you in a better mood
Lack of sleep can make us more agitated, so we’re more likely to snap at our boss or be grumpy with a loved one – neither of which is a good thing. The better you sleep, the better your ability to stay calm, controlled and reasonable.
7. Sleep could reduce your chances of diabetes
Some research studies have shown that not getting enough sleep may lead to type 2 diabetes by affecting how your body processes glucose. It’s not conclusive by any means, but it’s yet another indication of how important the benefits of sleep can be.
8. Sleep helps keep your heart healthy
A regular sleep pattern can help to lower the levels of stress and inflammation to your cardiovascular system, which in turn can reduce your chances of a heart condition.
9. Sleep can be a painkiller
If you’re suffering pain from a recent injury like a sprained ankle, getting plenty of sleep can actually make it hurt less. Many studies have shown a link between sleep loss and a lower pain threshold. Basically the more sleep you get, the less pain you might be in.
10. Sleep can make you smarter
Along with a great night’s sleep, grabbing a quick nap in the daytime can contribute towards making your brain more effective and productive. You won’t necessarily be answering all the questions on University Challenge, but you may well feel sharper, more attentive, and focused throughout the day.
Many of us want to improve our sleep, The Mayo Clinic recommend the following top 6 tips.
1. Stick to a sleep schedule
Set aside no more than eight hours for sleep. The recommended amount of sleep for a healthy adult is at least seven hours. Most people don’t need more than eight hours in bed to achieve this goal.
Go to bed and get up at the same time every day. Try to limit the difference in your sleep schedule on weeknights and weekends to no more than one hour. Being consistent reinforces your body’s sleep-wake cycle.
If you don’t fall asleep within about 20 minutes, leave your bedroom and do something relaxing. Read or listen to soothing music. Go back to bed when you’re tired. Repeat as needed.
2. Pay attention to what you eat and drink
Don’t go to bed hungry or stuffed. In particular, avoid heavy or large meals within a couple of hours of bedtime. Your discomfort might keep you up.
Nicotine, caffeine and alcohol deserve caution, too. The stimulating effects of nicotine and caffeine take hours to wear off and can wreak havoc on quality sleep. And, even though alcohol might make you feel sleepy, it can disrupt sleep later in the night.
3. Create a restful environment
Create a room that’s ideal for sleeping. Often, this means cool, dark and quiet. Exposure to light might make it more challenging to fall asleep. Avoid prolonged use of light-emitting screens just before bedtime. Consider using room-darkening shades, earplugs, a fan or other devices to create an environment that suits your needs.
Doing calming activities before bedtime, such as taking a bath or using relaxation techniques, might promote better sleep.
4. Limit daytime naps
Long daytime naps can interfere with night time sleep. If you choose to nap, limit yourself to up to 30 minutes and avoid doing so late in the day.
If you work nights, however, you might need to nap late in the day before work to help make up your sleep debt.
5. Include physical activity in your daily routine
Regular physical activity can promote better sleep. Avoid being active too close to bedtime, however.
Spending time outside every day might be helpful, too.
6. Manage worries
Try to resolve your worries or concerns before bedtime. Jot down what’s on your mind and then set it aside for tomorrow.
Stress management might help. Start with the basics, such as getting organised, setting priorities and delegating tasks. Meditation also can ease anxiety