4 Ways to Increase Mental Resilience for Better Sleep
Some people make and revise endless to-do lists. Others find themselves going down the rabbit hole of “what-ifs,” or they can’t help thinking of things they haven’t dealt with yet.
A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates 30% of American adults fail to get enough sleep each night and that the problem is so widespread it has become “a public health epidemic.”
We know we need quality sleep to feel refreshed, boost our immune systems, promote good mental health, be productive and feel energized. It’s also one of the best tools we have to cope with stress, especially during tumultuous times.
But what if your mind refuses to wind down at night? Sound like you?
What You Can Do to Improve Your Sleep Quality
Some experts call it mental or “cognitive hygiene” — that is, dealing with invasive and even negative thoughts before you try to get some precious sleep. After all, there are some things we can control, and others we can’t. Try these ideas to build mental resilience during waking hours and just before drifting off to help get a better night’s sleep.
Talk About It
Unload what’s bothering you before going to bed — it helps promote better sleep and clear the mental cobwebs. Whether you’re at home with your partner, or on the phone, ask someone to hear you out.
Need to rant? Go ahead, but remember being kind to both yourself and the listener. Lashing out will only make you both feel worse.
If you need more support, there are numerous online resources to help you face your particular challenge.
Settle Into a Sleep Routine and Good Habits
A calming bedtime routine can help you boost your mental state so you have an easier time falling and staying asleep. The Sleep30® Challenge by Sleep Number is a free 30-day sleep wellness program, and 82% of participants improve their sleep quality and 74% improve or change bad sleep habits. Participants credit a better bedtime routine learned from the program as a huge reason for helping them sleep better. A bedtime routine isn’t just for little kids. Adults and kids both benefit from helping their bodies unwind before bedtime.
Did You Know These Bedtime-Related Facts & Tips?
- Keep your bedroom cooler to help your body dump heat and sleep better. The ideal sleep temperature is between 65-67 degrees. Sleep Number research shows 80% of couples sleep too hot or too cold.*
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time (even on weekends).
- Exercise during the day for energy and better sleep at night. Sleep Number SleepIQ® sleepers who say they exercise regularly are the most restful overall, have the highest SleepIQ® score (the higher the score the better your sleep; 100 is a perfect sleep score), and the lowest average heart rate and breath rate compared to those who exercise occasionally or rarely.
- Avoid caffeine after noon (read more about this here).
- SleepIQ® sleepers who sleep in a pitch-black bedroom are more restful overall and achieve higher SleepIQ® scores than those who sleep with light in their bedroom.
- Have a comfortable mattress that can adjust to you. Science shows us that loss of sleep or poor sleep could adversely affect your immune system, leaving you susceptible to colds and other illnesses. Quality sleep is a natural immune booster, helping our focus, mood and ability to manage stress. Compared to average sleepers, Sleep Number® bed owners enjoy almost an hour’s more sleep per night.**
Not enough? Let’s add some mind-calming boosts to the mix.
Quiet the Mind & Breathe
One of the best ways to quiet the endless thoughts is to meditate. A recent study shows that meditation in the U.S. population indicates an effective method of “reducing physical, mental and emotional disturbances,” in both children and adults (Black, Barnes, Clarke, and Stussman, Nahin, 2018).
Download your favorite app, join an online group, or watch digital tutorials during the day to implement a meditation practice that helps you stay calm and focused on happier thoughts.
Some people like to start with breathing exercises, which are easy to do and have huge benefits — it’s the key to yoga, another excellent way to calm the mind and body before bedtime:
- Lie down in your comfy bed, and put your right hand over your heart and your left on your abdomen.
- Now breathe in deeply through your nose to the count of four or five.
- Hold your breath for four seconds, and exhale through your mouth for five, six or seven seconds.
- Picture a huge straw going from your nose into your belly, filling it up and expanding your ribs.
- When you exhale, imagine all of your negative thoughts being washed away with your breath.
When you’re stressed, your breathing gets faster and shorter, telling your brain to go into panic mode. This slow, intentional breathing has the exact opposite effect.
Focus (on the good stuff)
Perception is everything: What we choose to see and do becomes our everyday reality.
Talk kindly to yourself and fixate on the good things in your life when you’re feeling stressed out.
Some of those pluses might include a safe place to shelter, your health, family you love, friends you can count on, the nature surrounding you, your pet’s cuddles or a really good joke. Listen to music that puts a smile on your face.
Let those joy-inducing things be your daily guide to a better state of mind and better quality sleep.
Also, pay it forward and try doing something good for someone in need; a neighbor, a parent, a colleague, a teacher, or a total stranger.
Random acts of kindness — like buying a coffee or picking up the bill in a grocery store for someone in need — have a way of uplifting your own emotions. Thanks to the feel-good hormone oxytocin, which is part of a whole chemical chain reaction that happens when you do something good for someone, your whole outlook can change for the better.
Every positive step counts — how we think, respond and react to any given situation — and your built-up mental resilience can help improve your sleep quality. Soon enough, it’s a new daily routine, like brushing your teeth.
Like diet and exercise, quality sleep is essential for optimal well-being and performance. Because everyone’s sleep needs are different, Sleep Number 360® smart beds, with SleepIQ® technology inside, sense your movements and automatically adjust firmness, comfort and support to keep you both sleeping comfortably. Find your Sleep Number® setting for your best possible night’s sleep.
*Results from a 2020 Sleep Number survey of 1,004 respondents who reported they or their partner sometimes sleep too hot or too cold.
**Based on self-reported hours of sleep from a general population survey compared to our SleepIQ® data.