A sleep wellness expert says this is her #1 hack for falling asleep faster

We all know that getting a good night’s sleep is vital to our overall wellbeing and ability to function on the daily. But unfortunately, getting the full CDC-recommended seven to nine hours of restful sleep each night is easier said than done. Since it’s proven that sleep and mental health are directly related, and in honor of May’s Mental Health Awareness Month, we wanted to get expert advice to help readers who have trouble sleeping — which in turn will hopefully lead to better days.

We talked to The Sleep Ambassador Nancy H. Rothstein, an adjunct lecturer at NYU specializing in sleep wellness and director of Circadian corporate sleep programs, who helped us understand the connection between sleep and mental health. She also let us in on a sleep hack that will improve everyone’s ability to get a better night’s sleep.

"Sleep deprivation can impact our mental health," Rothstein told HelloGiggles. "Depression can be exacerbated by insufficient sleep or insomnia. Sleep disorders left untreated, such as sleep apnea, insomnia, and others, leave a person at risk for compromised mental health."

The effects of sleep or sleep-related issues on an individual’s mental health should always be assessed by a medical provider, Rothstein added. A doctor or medical professional can help a person target and treat both sleep and mental health-related problems.

"For example," Rothstein explained, "recommendations for when to nap or not, when to stop caffeine, and when not to consume alcohol in relation to bedtime are important considerations for everyone, but for those with anxiety or depression, there may be specific protocols prescribed by your physician so as not to worsen your symptoms."

However, the best thing everyone (including those with mental health issues) can do for themselves in order to get a great night’s sleep is to — surprise, surprise — nix the technology before bed.

Rothstein told us that her #1 hack for falling asleep faster is turning off technology an hour before bedtime. This helps to transition a person into a peaceful sleep.

"If possible, recharge your cell phone out of the bedroom so you can recharge in bed! Or at least, put your phone across the room so you don’t look at it in bed. Purchase an old-fashioned alarm clock with hands and no bright lights, rather than using your cell phone, because you will be tempted to look at texts and emails."

She explained that these devices not only stimulate our brains, but they emit blue light that actually inhibits the release of melatonin, the hormone that regulates our sleep/wake cycle.

Rather than scrolling through Facebook or Instagram for hours on end before bed, set up a new pre-bedtime ritual like reading in a warm light, doing yoga or meditation, or even just sipping a hot, caffeine-free beverage.

Cutting out technology before bed just might be the answer for a more restful sleep and, in turn, a more productive next day.

If this hack doesn’t work for you, please don’t hesitate to consult your doctor about your sleep habits and how they might contribute to the status of your mental or physical health. Seeking the advice of a medical professional could be the one thing standing between you and a better quality of life.

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