Non-Medicinal Sleep Aids When You Have a Mental Health Condition

Non-Medicinal Sleep Aids When You Have a Mental Health Condition

Lack of sleep can be especially distressing for those who are already struggling with mental health issues. When it comes to conditions like anxiety and depression, sleep deprivation can become part of a vicious cycle, in which lack of sleep exacerbates symptoms – making it even harder to relax and get much-needed rest. Here are a few non-medicinal options to try, if you’re trying to get a better night’s sleep.
Watch what and when you eat or drink.
Going to bed hungry can make it hard to sleep. But you also don’t want to eat a large meal too close to bedtime. Also watch your caffeine intake as evening draws near. Alcohol can also wreak havoc with your sleep patterns. Even if a drink helps you get to sleep, it may not be a deep sleep, or a good sleep. It’s especially important to be cautious with alcohol intake if you are taking prescribed medication for mental health symptoms or any other conditions.
Try to get fresh air and exercise.
Exercising even five minutes every day can help you feel better and improve your physical and mental health. It can also help you get a better night’s sleep. However, exercising too close to bedtime may make it harder for you to drift off. So, choose a type of exercise you enjoy, and aim to get to it earlier in the day.
Have a bedtime routine.
Having a ritual is more than just going to bed at the same time every day. It’s also about having a set of practices that help you feel relaxed, safe, and comfortable. This could entail a warm bath before bedtime, a cup of herbal tea, some calming music, or a good book. Create a ritual out of what works for you.
Have a comfortable sleeping area.
If your bedroom is messy, dingy, or uncomfortable, it’s understandably hard to relax and go to sleep. Try to keep your sleeping area as free from clutter as possible. It’s also important to control light entry. Too much light can mess up your sleep patterns. And for some people, even just a little is too much. You can reduce light in your bedroom with the use of darkened shades. Or consider wearing an eye mask. Having a Night Sky Ceiling installed can also help create a more soothing and pleasant ambiance in your bedroom, and even help combat sleeplessness. This is something that might be especially helpful for children with sleep issues.
Try to identify and reduce stressors in your life.
Depression and anxiety can’t be magically eliminated by making life changes. And not everyone has the freedom to alter every stressful situation in their life. Nevertheless, it can be helpful to reduce the severity of stress symptoms, to see what in your life might be making them worse and whether any of these stressors can be eliminated. For instance, if a relationship is making you feel more anxious, try to set clear boundaries. If a job is causing you extra stress, see if a career change is possible. Career stress tends to be a real problem for managers, so trying to delegate more effectively could also help. Other ways you can reduce work-related stress include practicing self-care in the workplace, taking mental health days, and taking advantage of any vacation time you have.
Don’t fight it.
If you find yourself wakeful when you don’t want to be, fighting it can raise your frustration levels and make it even harder to relax. Take that time to do something that you find soothing and pleasant, like reading a good book, and you may find yourself drifting off after all.
Having an array of techniques for falling asleep, and getting a full night’s sleep, is important for anyone suffering from insomnia on top of their mental health concerns, especially if they need to be careful about medication use. Everyone is different so what works for one person might not work for you but take your time and try different methods until you figure out which ones help you.

Researched & written by joycewilson@teacherspark.org

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