Below are some tools and suggestions for improving the quality of your sleep, and ensuring you get the rest you need to help you manage your symptoms more effectively.
During the Day: Setting Yourself up for Success
- Use your bed only for sleep. Avoid activities like watching TV and reading in bed; it may be tempting (and comfortable!), but it’s important that your brain associate your bedroom and bed with sleep, and sleep alone.
- Limit your caffeine intake throughout the day. This can be tough when you feel you’re running on empty, but when the times comes to hit the sheets, your body will thank you.
- Get regular exercise. You don’t have to start training for a marathon, but at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise 5 days a week will help your brain and body relax – leaving you primed to fall asleep, and stay asleep.
- Spring for a quality mattress. Assuming you aim for 8 hours of sleep a night, you’ll end up spending around 1/3 of your life in bed – consider a good mattress an investment.
- Keep a regular sleep schedule; aim to go to sleep and wake at the same time each day. While it can be tempting to oversleep on weekends, it’s best to limit it to an additional hour or two at most.
Bedtime: Turning In & Winding Down
- Keep your bedroom dark, and limit unnecessary light sources. Invest in quality blinds or drapes, and if that’s not an option, a comfortable sleep mask will do the trick.
- A quiet bedroom helps eliminate distractions that keep you from falling or staying asleep. A fan can be useful in creating white noise, or if you prefer to use your phone, try one of the dozens of sleep apps that provide a wide range of background noise for sleep. Ear plugs may seem like a last resort, but can be surprisingly comfortable to sleep in. Find the best solution that works for you.
- If you have pets, keep them out of the bed and bedroom. Heartbreaking as it may be, with fewer interruptions and more space to spread out – you’ll thank yourself later.
- Limit screen time (TV, tablets, smart phones, etc.) for at least an hour before bed; pick up a book or magazine, or try listening to an audiobook. If you absolutely cannot resist checking your phone, download an app like Twilight which limits your exposure to types of light that may affect your natural circadian rhythm.
- Schedule time to decompress before bed. Find what works for you; it may be a hot bath or shower, a cup of herbal tea, or a few moments of quiet meditation. Taking just five or fifteen minutes for self-care can help you mentally prepare for sleep.
Battling a mood disorder can be both physically and mentally exhausting. Getting a restful night of sleep will help you refuel, recharge, and give you the energy you need to better manage your symptoms when they arise.