Better Sleep: How to Improve Your Habits to Boost Mental Health

By Justin Bennett

For millions of Americans, learning better sleep habits can be tricky. There are so many factors to consider, from temperature to bedding to the way you feel physically, and making changes to your routine can alter any or all of those things, potentially throwing a wrench into your plans to get good rest. This, in turn, can have a negative effect on your mental health, keeping you tired, sluggish, and unable to perform even the most simple of daily functions.

Of course, this is especially true for new mamas, moms-to-be, and even some veteran parents of children who just donít sleep well. For many parents, sleepless nights are just a fact of life. The truth is, there is no surefire way to ensure you get the seven to eight hours of sleep you so desperately want and need. The good news is, there are ways to cope with sleep deprivation, like staying hydrated and treating yourself to small doses of caffeine throughout the day.

Adopting better sleep habits can also help. Be proactive about the quality of sleep you are getting by ensuring you fall asleep quickly, stay asleep, and stay comfortable all night long. Making small changes to your routine or physical environment can help improve your sleep habits and boost your physical and mental health at the same time.

Keep reading for some great tips on how to get started.

Buy the Right Bedding

The right bedding can have a profound effect on your sleep. From sheets that keep you cool and perspiration-free to a memory-foam pillow that helps reduce your back pain, itís worthwhile to invest in the right sleep accessories. Keep in mind that the right mattress is essential for good rest and can mean the difference between a night of tossing and turning and one where you actually get the required eight hours. When choosing a mattress, take into consideration whether you tend to sleep on your side, back, or stomach, as well as your weight and height.

Do Some Research

The amount of sleep you get can have a major effect on your physical health, causing issues such as high blood pressure, obesity, depression, and diabetes. Do some research to find out what the suggested amount of sleep is based on your age. If you find it difficult to sleep for extended periods of time, consider taking short naps during the day to help yourself feel refreshed.

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Control the Temps

The temperature in your bedroom should be one that leaves you feeling comfortable all night long. In the summer, consider turning on the ceiling fan even if your A/C is on since youíll have blankets over you at night. The white noise that the fan provides can also be a boon for better sleep. In winter, if you find that your feet are cold, wear slippers around the house as often as possible and consider sleeping with light socks on. Having cold feet and hands can prevent you from falling into a restful sleep.

Limit Your Blue Light Exposure

Blue light -- or the light that is emitted from your smartphone, tablet, television, and other devices -- can have a negative effect on your sleep health, so limit your exposure to these things at least an hour or two before you go to bed. If possible, set up your bedroom with only those things that will help you rest, and leave the television in the living room.

Diet and Exercise Play Their Role

Your diet and exercise regimen can play a big part in your sleep cycle, too. Getting outside for a workout -- even a brief one -- every day can help your bodyís rhythms get on track, and it can boost your mood, as well. Cutting caffeine and refined sugars from your regular diet -- or limiting them -- can also be extremely helpful.

Improving your sleep habits may prove to be difficult at first, especially if you are dealing with a sleepless child or the discomforts of pregnancy. And, while there may be no such thing as "sleeping like a baby," you shouldnít forget to make your own well-being a priority.