We all know that sleep is crucial for good overall mental and physical health. Quality sleep allows us to refuel ourselves day after day so that we can continue to perform our best in our everyday lives. Poor sleep can certainly take a toll on our overall lives. It can affect our performance at work or in school in a very detrimental way. Perhaps more importantly, poor sleep can make us more vulnerable to mental health problems like anxiety and depression. These are some of the reasons that people turn to substance use. While they are using substances to attempt to cope with the symptoms, in reality, they are only making the problem worse.
Learning how to get better quality sleep is something that we can all benefit from, and for some people, it may even end up transforming their lives for the better.
Understanding the Connection Between Sleep and Substance Misuse
A lot of people who engage in regular substance misuse don’t notice the effect that drugs or alcohol may be having on their overall quality of sleep. In fact, some people actually rely on drugs or alcohol to help them relax and fall asleep at night. Alcohol, in particular, is a nervous system depressant. This is why when someone drinks before bed, especially in excess, they tend to fall asleep quicker. However, the overall duration and quality of their sleep are impacted. This is why they may still feel tired even after sleeping for an extended period of time.
Part of this is due to the fact that it takes the body time to fully process alcohol. So, if someone drank alcohol right before bed, that alcohol is still circulating around their body for much of the night. As a result, the balance of REM sleep and slow wave sleep stages are offset. The body is not getting the chance to truly rest and reset over the course of the night.
If you’re looking to improve your overall quality of sleep, your best bet is to quit drinking alcohol altogether – but especially before bedtime.
7 Habits That Promote Better Quality Sleep
There are simple things that you can do to improve your overall quality of sleep. When you do them on a regular basis, they become habits that you don’t even have to think about. Before long, you may be surprised by just how much better and more rested you feel.
#1. Sleep schedule: Stick to the same sleep schedule every day as much as possible. This involves going to bed each night and waking up each morning at the same time. There might be times, especially on weekends, when you let yourself sleep in a little bit, but try to keep from deviating from your sleep schedule as much as you can. A consistent sleep schedule help strengthens your sleep-wake cycle and will ensure that you feel energized and well-rested each morning. When your body is on a schedule, it can also keep you from laying in bed for hours each night, struggling to fall asleep.
#2. Hydration: Stay hydrated throughout the day but avoid drinking too much water before bed. Nothing is worse than enjoying some quality sleep only to have to wake up to use the restroom. Then it can be hard to fall back to sleep.
#3. What you eat before bed: Avoid salty, heavily processed, or spicy foods right before bed. When you eat these things and then go lay down, you can experience problems like heartburn and acid reflux. This can cause a lot of discomfort and can really affect your quality of sleep.
#4. Temperature: Make sure that your bedroom is kept cool at night. An overly hot room can cause sweating and impact your quality of sleep.
#5. Napping: Avoid naps throughout the day. There are times when you may feel particularly exhausted and as if you won’t be able to get through the rest of the day without a nap. If you feel you absolutely must take a nap, keep it as short as possible. This way, your sleep schedule won’t get overly disturbed, and you’ll still be able to fall asleep at your regular time at night.
#6. Screentime: Avoid screens for at least an hour before bed. The blue light that comes from devices like your phone, television, or laptop actually awakens your brain and makes it harder to fall asleep at night. While it may be tempting to scroll through social media or watch an episode of a show before bed, consider a different bedtime routine. For example, you could read a chapter of a book, do some journaling, or even try some meditation.
#7. Limit distractions: Avoid distractions in your room that may impact sleep. Make sure that the notifications on your phone are paused so that your phone isn’t beeping and buzzing and waking you up throughout the night.
The connection between sleep and substance misuse is really interesting. Many people don’t realize that their substance use before bed is impacting not only their quality of sleep but how they feel the next day, including their energy levels. Good quality sleep is so important not only for our physical health but our mental health as well. When we are well rested, we are better able to handle stressful situations and use good decision-making. Our overall mood is also going to be improved. If you are struggling with substance misuse and are ready to make a change, our team at The Ho Tai Way can help. Call (714) 581-3974 today to learn more.