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Studies indicate that 1 in 3 U.S. adults aren’t getting enough sleep, which can adversely affect one’s productivity, creativity, memory retention, quality of life, heart, appearance, immune system and weight. Lack of shut-eye also greatly affects mental health — even partial sleep deprivation can have a significant impact on your mood, which includes feelings of stress, anger, sadness and overall mental exhaustion.

All of these emotions can make it even more difficult to sleep, thus creating a vicious cycle. While it takes a little structure, it is possible to get the required amount of sleep in an effort to boost your mental well-being — here’s how.

Establish A Sleep Schedule

One of the basic elements of getting proper sleep is establishing a sleep schedule so that you’re waking up and going to bed at the same time each day — weekends included. Establish what time you need to wake up in the morning and work backward seven or eight hours in order to know what time to hit the hay. If you’re more of a night owl, use the same approach in reverse — consistency is the important factor, so find a time that works best for you and stick to it. It’s important to only go to bed when you’re actually sleepy, otherwise you run the risk of developing insomnia by lying in bed awake.

Experiment With Exercise

It used to be believed that exercising before bed was a bad idea because it energies the body and mind, but experts say this is not always the case. In fact, for some people, having a sweat session before bed doesn’t affect their ability to sleep at all — or it has the opposite effect by making it easier to drift into dreamland. Weight training in particular is known for improving sleep no matter what time of the day the activity is performed. Experiment with exercising during different periods of the day to determine what works best for you.

Create The Optimal Sleeping Environment

Consider your bedroom a sleeping sanctuary that should only be used for resting. Invest in a quality mattress, but make sure to do your research first. Once you’ve narrowed down your options, it can behoove you to give them a try. Take off your shoes and lie down in the various positions in which you normally sleep. It can take up to 15 minutes to truly feel the support of a mattress, so don’t rush this step or you could regret it later.

Other bells and whistles to consider for a restful sleep include a white noise machine that airs ambient sounds such as crashing waves, blackout blinds or curtains and an aromatherapy diffuser. Temperature is key, too, so turn down the thermostat to a comfortable 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit.

Take Time To Wind Down

The worst things you can do right before going to bed are stressful tasks such as paying bills or being attached to any form of electronics from your cell phone to the television — power them down at least one hour before lights out. Instead, take time to wind down with a relaxing ritual such as creating a to-do list for the next day, clearing up any residual clutter, downloading a guided meditation app, writing in a gratitude journal, sipping herbal tea, taking a relaxing bubble bath and lowering the lights.

Experts suggest that adults between 18 and 64 get seven to nine hours of sleep, while seniors 65-plus get seven to eight — teens, young children, toddlers, and babies need even more. Getting too much sleep can also lead to unhealthy behavior, so it’s important to stick within a reasonable range. If you’re still struggling to sleep despite instituting good habits, speak to a specialist about your treatment options before the situation adversely affects your mental and physical health on a larger scale.

The post Give Your Mental Health a Boost appeared first on .

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Being a single parent can be difficult even when things are going well. As anyone who has taken on both parenting roles will tell you, there are times when it seems like going on after a particularly hard day is impossible; having no one to tag in when you’re sick, tired, or stressed takes a toll after a while.

For these reasons, it’s important for single parents to know how to take care of themselves, make time to do things that relax them and make them happy, and stay healthy. Here are some of the best tips for moms and dads who need to take a time-out.

Practice self-care

Learning how to take care of yourself isn’t just about eating right and getting exercise, although those are two very important things to know. It’s also about remembering to take time for yourself to do things you enjoy. You can’t expect to be the best parent you can be if you’re tired, stressed, or unhappy, so take a little time every day that’s just for you. Turn off your phone, stay away from emails, and get to it: play a video game, take a hot bath with a glass of wine, or relax with a good book. The most important part is to keep guilt out of the equation; don’t feel bad for focusing on your own well-being for a little while. It’s absolutely necessary.

Find healthy ways to cope

It’s easy sometimes to defeat stress with a cigarette or a few beers, but when you become dependent on drugs or alcohol to get you through the day or to help you sleep, it might be time to take a look at your situation and evaluate whether you are making healthy choices. If you have been relying too heavily on unhealthy coping methods, you might consider trying something new. Work exercise into your day, which can help you with energy levels as well as getting more restful sleep. Try yoga or meditation, which can help to dramatically reduce stress and emotional issues. Get creative and take up a new hobby, such as drawing or sewing. Stress from being the sole caregiver can lead to depression, substance abuse, and even suicidal thoughts, so take care of yourself.

Remember that it’s okay to say “No”

Friends and family may not understand sometimes just how busy you are, so don’t be afraid to say “no” to invitations once in awhile. It’s okay to put your own needs first at times, especially if you’re tired or overworked.

Find a support system

Having friends around you who also have children is one of the best ways to combat stress, as talking with someone who understands what you’re going through is always helpful. If you don’t know anyone who is a single parent, consider looking online for support groups or even groups of single parents who meet up socially for playdates.

Being a single parent is never easy, but keeping your stress levels down makes for a happy, healthy you.

The post Over Coming the Challenges of Being a Single Parent appeared first on .

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