Tips for a good night’s sleep

Why is it important to get enough sleep?

Getting at least seven hours of sleep is essential for maintaining good mental and physical health. Sleep deprivation adversely affects your alertness during the day and your performance at work or school. It can impair memory, and the ability to think and process information. Sleep promotes the production of serotonin, a natural chemical in our body that increases brain activity and promotes access to learning, memory, mood regulation and concentration. Lack of serotonin may contribute to depression. Long-term sleep deprivationcan increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes.

Here’s what you can do to get a good night’s rest.

Create a sleep schedule: Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day. Having a sleep schedule helps adults and children set their body’s internal sleep clock and improves overall sleep.
Bedroom ambiance: Create a relaxing and tranquil environment. Set a comfortable room temperature around 71 degrees. Minimize the light entering the bedroom as light can disrupt your quality of sleep. If you get up at night, use a small night light. Darkness cues the brain to make the hormone melatonin, responsible for making a person feel sleepy and go to sleep.
Get exposed to natural light during the day: Let in as much natural light into your home or workspace as possible during the day. Exposure to sunlight is thought to increase the release of the hormone serotonin, which is associated with boosting mood and helping a person feel calm and focused.
Short or no naps: It’s best not to nap during the day if you are having difficulty sleeping at night. If you have to take a nap, do not sleep more than 25 minutes.
Bedtime rituals: This is good for children as well as adults. Create a bedtime ritual to unwind from the stressors you experienced during the day. This may include relaxation breathing, a hot bath, reading, prayer or working on a coloring book.
Avoid sleep disruptors before bedtime: Drinking or eating caffeinated products, smoking, consuming alcohol, exposure to bright screens, exercising before bedtime and late night snacks can make it more difficult to fall asleep.

By Alida Zappone
Licensed Clinical Social Worker, VCC