How can you improve the overall quality of your sleep?
If you’re suffering from a mood disorder such as anxiety or depression, you’ve probably experienced a great deal of sleep disturbances that have either kept you awake at night, or asleep, when you should’ve been wide awake and active.
Sleep issues are more common than you might think and if you don’t do anything about it, you will find it even more difficult to contend with your mood disorder.
The following guidelines will help you develop better sleeping habits and hopefully, these steps will aid you in restructuring your biological sleeping pattern so you can enjoy normal, rejuvenating sleep once again:
- Keep naps to a minimum. If you have time to nap in the afternoon or early evening, don’t do it.
Napping might be alright for people with no sleep issues, but to a person with sleep issues and a mood disorder naps are bad news. You need to feel sufficiently tired in the evening to be able to fall asleep faster.
This guideline applies most especially to people who are already habitually sleeping late even before the onset of the mood disorder. If you feel that you need to nap, keep your nap short (15 – 20 minutes only) and be sure to perform a few activities immediately afterward so that you’re not too energetic after dinner.
- Prepare to sleep. Some people can just lie down on their beds and fall asleep immediately. The scenario is different when you have a mood disorder.
You may not be able to fall asleep normally and your sleep may become punctuated with frequent awakenings. In this scenario you have to condition yourself to sleep so that even your mood disorder won’t be able to stand in the way of a good night’s rest.
One of the best ways to condition yourself to sleep is by creating a “zone of peace” a few hours before your intended bedtime.
For example, if you’re planning to go to bed at 10 p.m., you should already be relaxing by 8 p.m.. It’s alright to talk to family members and friends but overstimulation should definitely be avoided. Turn off the TV and put your gadgets in the drawer too, because these things do not count as relaxation tools.
If you want a little stimulation to get you in the mood for sleep, try some classical music or white noise. White noise is especially effective for relaxation. You can buy white noise recordings online or you can listen to free clips on YouTube – it’s up to you.
- Focus on sleep and relaxing, period. Some people like meditating on things before they go to sleep. If you don’t have sleep disturbances, reflecting on your life before going to sleep would probably be alright.
However, if you have sleeping issues, any additional thinking at night will keep you up unnecessarily. In the event that you need to plan and think about some things, do it before bedtime.
If you’re sleeping with someone, avoid talking to that person when all the lights are out. Again, focus on relaxing so your mind can begin to wind down, too.
- Restrict activities in the bedroom. The bedroom is not a library, office or an extension of your living room. Begin limiting the number of activities that you do in the bedroom so that your mind is conditioned immediately to sleep whenever you see your bed. While it’s convenient to do some extra work in the bedroom, it’s not your best option when you’re battling a sleep disorder.
- Exercise in the morning. Exercising in the morning has been shown to improve sleep late at night, studies say. Any kind of exercise will improve your mood and also help reset your body clock so it allows you to sleep and wake up at the right hours of the day.
You don’t have to go to the gym to exercise. You can try jogging, running, walking or even sports like squash tennis or badminton.
Any physical activity that will get raise your heart rate and burn calories is a good choice for an exercise. Of course, if you’re going to the gym it would be best to enlist the help of a certified fitness trainer so you don’t injure yourself while exercising. Your trainer will also know the best exercises so that you will be physically relaxed throughout the day after your stint at the gym.