Welcome to Health401k’s first “Expert Opinion” blog. We’d like to share some vital, potentially life-changing information about something essential for good health: sleep. Experts agree: sleep is essential to good health and well-being throughout your life. Getting enough quality sleep at the right times can help protect your mental health, physical health, quality of life, and safety. Adopting healthy sleep habits will provide lasting, measurable benefits. Sleep helps heal and repair your heart and blood vessels, reduces your risk for obesity, and helps maintain a healthy immune system. Research has shown that treating a sleep disorder may also help alleviate symptoms of a co-occurring mental health problem. According to a recent Harvard Mental Health letter, studies suggest that a good night’s sleep helps foster both mental and emotional resilience, while chronic sleep deprivation sets the stage for negative thinking and emotional vulnerability. Getting enough restorative sleep will cause your reaction time to improve, and with it, your ability to perform potentially dangerous tasks. You will be more attentive overall, you’ll have more energy, and be more able to do your best work. Sleep is the foundation of physical and mental well-being and developing a healthy sleep routine could change your life. Making even small changes can yield big positive results. Here are some proven tips for daily life to bring more peaceful sleep to your nights.
Be a creature of habits
- Develop a healthy sleep routine that works for your schedule and follow it consistently.
- Go to bed and get up at the same time every day of the week – even weekends!
- Unplug from all electronics at least 90 minutes before bedtime.
- Incorporate a relaxing activity into your nightly pre-sleep ritual.
Enhance your environment
- Create a fortress of peace and comfort to encourage healthy sleep.
- Keep your bedroom cool (low- to mid-60 degrees fahrenheit) and dark.
- Use white noise machines to keep it quiet.
- Limit the use of your bed to sleep and intimacy.
Set yourself up to succeed
- What you do during the day determines how well you’ll sleep at night.
- Limit daytime naps.
- Watch what you eat and drink, and when (eg. caffeine, alcohol, nicotine).
- Get some exercise early in the day.
- Get some sunshine.
What if nothing helps, and you still can’t sleep? Stay calm. After 20 minutes of trying, leave your bedroom and try to relax somewhere else. Don’t let your bed become a source of frustration. Wake up during the night and can’t get back to sleep? Do the same thing. Try to relax and don’t focus on the time. And don’t look at your electronics! Remember: Lack of sleep is a serious health hazard. Don’t be afraid to get help when you need it. Health401k can help. Because healthy sleep is essential for healthy living, Health401k makes it a central element of our programming. A smart place to start investing in your health is by examining your relationship with sleep. Health401k addresses sleep as part of our Stress Management and Habit Mapping workshops. To learn more about how following the principles of behavioral science can put you on the path toward building healthy sleep, as well as many other health habits, email us today or sign up for our newsletter.
Wishing you a peaceful, energizing good night.
 Harvard Mental Health Letter, Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School, “Sleep and Mental Health,” March 18, 2019.  Health.com, “11 Surprising Health Benefits of Sleep,” Alyssa Sparacino, March 1, 2019.