By: Charlotte Rensberger

If you search the internet, numerous sources will discuss a link between sleep, mental health, and chronic illness. But there are still many questions that science has not yet answered.

"We do know that patients with anxiety, depression, bipolar, and ADHD all report that they have various sleep disturbances. We don’t know why, but it seems to be some sort of cyclical relationship; poor sleep triggers anxiety/depression, which triggers chronic illness symptoms, which makes sleep worse, and so on and so forth."

I will tell you, I love sleep; napping is my favorite hobby. In all seriousness though, improving your sleep hygiene could help you get a better night’s sleep.

Here are some habits to think about adopting:
• Consistency - try to go to bed and wake up at roughly the same time each day
• Make your bedroom conducive to a good night’s sleep. Darken the room, stabilize the temperature, block out all the noise, and make sure your pillows and blankets are cozy.
• Turn off electronics a few hours before bedtime and keep them out of the bedroom.
• Don’t eat right before bed and cut out the caffeine several hours prior to bedtime.
• Daily exercise.
• If you must nap, don’t nap too late in the afternoon, and keep the nap to an hour or less.

Here’s what I can share from personal experience. When my Crohn’s is flaring, usually my anxiety and depression are also not in good control.  I sleep a ton during the day, which makes me sleep poorly at night. And the cycle continues. When my mental health is under control, I enjoy a brief afternoon nap most days and am still get a decent night’s sleep.

How’s your sleep hygiene?