Sleep and rest – Mental health vitamins

HOW TO SUPPORT YOURSELF WITH SLEEP AND REST?

During sleeping our body functions recover, therefore sleeping is as important for us as breathing, drinking water and eating. That is why we feel unwell when our sleep has been distracted. Small breaks for resting during the day are as essential for keeping our balance. So how to take and make time for sleeping and resting? There is a lot that we can do to achieve deep sleep and to find moments of rest!

We have presented various tips below that you can try by yourself, with your colleagues at work or at school or home. We have also designed conversation cards, that support the conversations on sleep and resting.

Taking and making time for sleeping and resting helps us keep our life in balance. Balance is the main thing!

  • Every day, knowingly set aside time for sleep. You can even write your planned bedtime in the calendar so that you can get enough hours of sleep by the next morning. Turn off all screens at least an hour before sleep and do something relaxing instead.
  • Set aside at least 5 minutes every day to daydream about being on holiday. Proper holiday! Close your eyes and listen to relaxing music, birdsong or the sound of the waves from your headphones and imagine how you would feel during this holiday.
  • If your worried thoughts keep disturbing your sleep and moments of rest, set aside about 20–30 minutes during the day for worrying and then do relaxation exercises to help you come to terms with these thoughts.
  • Learn mindfulness and relaxation techniques. Even counting sheep can help you distract yourself from your worries.
  • If worried thoughts keep you awake at night, get up and do something relaxing for a bit and then try to fall asleep again.
  • To improve sleep, put your smart devices aside, step away from work and focus on something that relaxes and calms you down before bedtime – listen to good music, spend time with your pet, talk face to face with a family member or take a small walk outside.
  • Be more physically active – at least 150 minutes per week. You could try walking to work or taking a small walk during your lunch break.
  • Try to spend more time in the nature.
  • Instead of using apps and devices to track your sleep and wellbeing, try to trust your intuition instead. This can alleviate some of your sleep related worries.
  • Take a breather from your everyday thoughts and go play instead. Who said that only children can play games? Play with your partner or family members, tickle or try to make them laugh. This can distract you from everything else! When alone, you can make funny faces in front of the mirror until you can’t hold back your laughter. As long as you’re having fun!
  • Set an alarm or reminder for yourself of when to go to sleep and when to wake up. This helps your body to follow a necessary sleep routine.
  • Read before sleep. This can make you fall asleep more easily or maybe even too easily!
  • Do you have a good pillow? If you toss and turn in bed at night, maybe it’s because your pillow is uncomfortable or old. If so, it would be a good time to pamper yourself with a new and comfortable pillow!
  • Some radio stations have bedtime stories that can also help adults fall asleep! You can search for bedtime stories to listen to online.
  • If you have trouble falling asleep alone then see if you can call a friend and fall asleep together!
  • Mindfulness exercises before sleep help you rid yourself of daytime stress and calm your thoughts. Look for mindfulness exercises online!
  • Take a shower before sleep and try to mentally clean yourself from everything that caused you stress during the day. This allows you to go to bed more relaxed.
  • Learn from our European neighbours! A small siesta fits our current state of emergency very well! Take a moment to rest during the day and try to get your whole family involved. All your daily commitments can wait at least 5 minutes!
  • If you sleep enough during the weekdays then you won’t have to fix your “sleep debt” during the weekend and can use the extra time to work on your mental health in other ways instead.
  • New-born babies require set sleep patterns, but what about your needs?
  • Listen to silence! Where is the most silent place in your life?
  • Try the Pomodoro technique – the goal is to work without interruptions for 25 minutes and then take a 5-minute break to stretch your legs or drink water. if you finish work before the “tomato time” then spend the rest of the 25 minutes on analysing and thinking about your completed work.
  • We all have 168 hours in a week. If we sleep 8 hours per day and work 40 hours per week then we have 72 hours left over for other things. What do you do with that time?
  • Take a piece of paper and draw 2 pie charts on it. One of them is your ideal daily activity pie chart (how many hours you spend on sleep, rest, work and hobbies) and the other is your real activity pie chart. Compare the two. See if there is anything you can do to make your reality chart more like your ideal chart?
  • What are your early morning routines when you wake up? Is there something you could do differently? Stretches? Smile at the sun? Smile at yourself? Think about last night’s dreams?
  • Do you like to press the snooze button on your alarm clock? Maybe it’s a sign of your body asking for a different sleep pattern? Is there something you can do about that right away?
  • Do you sometimes think that relaxing and resting has to be earned with hard work? Try to let go of this belief for at least a week. Resting is a basic necessity no matter what you do with your time.
  • Take a small 30-minute nap during the day.
  • Take a moment to think about what resting and relaxation means for you?
  • Keep a calm head and focus on the following:
    • While sitting at a table, breathe in and raise your shoulders to your ears.
    • Let your shoulders fall during exhaling so that tension is relieved.
    • Look up and raise your arms one by one as if you’re trying to catch the sky.
    • Rub your head enthusiastically and tap all over it with your fingertips. Grab yourself lightly from your hair and let your hands go.
    • First pinch your jawbone area and then tap it with your fingertips. Then yawn loudly!
  • Every day, knowingly set aside time for sleep. You can even write your planned bedtime in the calendar so that you can get enough hours of sleep by the next morning. Turn off all screens at least an hour before sleep and do something relaxing instead.
  • Set aside at least 5 minutes every day to daydream about being on holiday. Proper holiday! Close your eyes and listen to relaxing music, birdsong or the sound of the waves from your headphones and imagine how you would feel during this holiday.
  • If your worried thoughts keep disturbing your sleep and moments of rest, set aside about 20–30 minutes during the day for worrying and then do relaxation exercises to help you come to terms with these thoughts.
  • Learn mindfulness and relaxation techniques. Even counting sheep can help you distract yourself from your worries.
  • If worried thoughts keep you awake at night, get up and do something relaxing for a bit and then try to fall asleep again.
  • To improve sleep, put your smart devices aside, step away from work and focus on something that relaxes and calms you down before bedtime – listen to good music, spend time with your pet, talk face to face with a family member or take a small walk outside.
  • Be more physically active – at least 150 minutes per week. You could try walking to work or taking a small walk during your lunch break.
  • Try to spend more time in the nature.
  • Instead of using apps and devices to track your sleep and wellbeing, try to trust your intuition instead. This can alleviate some of your sleep related worries.
  • Take a breather from your everyday thoughts and go play instead. Who said that only children can play games? Play with your partner or family members, tickle or try to make them laugh. This can distract you from everything else! When alone, you can make funny faces in front of the mirror until you can’t hold back your laughter. As long as you’re having fun!
  • Set an alarm or reminder for yourself of when to go to sleep and when to wake up. This helps your body to follow a necessary sleep routine.
  • Read before sleep. This can make you fall asleep more easily or maybe even too easily!
  • Do you have a good pillow? If you toss and turn in bed at night, maybe it’s because your pillow is uncomfortable or old. If so, it would be a good time to pamper yourself with a new and comfortable pillow!
  • Some radio stations have bedtime stories that can also help adults fall asleep! You can search for bedtime stories to listen to online.
  • If you have trouble falling asleep alone then see if you can call a friend and fall asleep together!
  • Mindfulness exercises before sleep help you rid yourself of daytime stress and calm your thoughts. Look for mindfulness exercises online!
  • Take a shower before sleep and try to mentally clean yourself from everything that caused you stress during the day. This allows you to go to bed more relaxed.
  • Learn from our European neighbours! A small siesta fits our current state of emergency very well! Take a moment to rest during the day and try to get your whole family involved. All your daily commitments can wait at least 5 minutes!
  • If you sleep enough during the weekdays then you won’t have to fix your “sleep debt” during the weekend and can use the extra time to work on your mental health in other ways instead.
  • New-born babies require set sleep patterns, but what about your needs?
  • Listen to silence! Where is the most silent place in your life?
  • Try the Pomodoro technique – the goal is to work without interruptions for 25 minutes and then take a 5-minute break to stretch your legs or drink water. if you finish work before the “tomato time” then spend the rest of the 25 minutes on analysing and thinking about your completed work.
  • We all have 168 hours in a week. If we sleep 8 hours per day and work 40 hours per week then we have 72 hours left over for other things. What do you do with that time?
  • Take a piece of paper and draw 2 pie charts on it. One of them is your ideal daily activity pie chart (how many hours you spend on sleep, rest, work and hobbies) and the other is your real activity pie chart. Compare the two. See if there is anything you can do to make your reality chart more like your ideal chart?
  • What are your early morning routines when you wake up? Is there something you could do differently? Stretches? Smile at the sun? Smile at yourself? Think about last night’s dreams?
  • Do you like to press the snooze button on your alarm clock? Maybe it’s a sign of your body asking for a different sleep pattern? Is there something you can do about that right away?
  • Do you sometimes think that relaxing and resting has to be earned with hard work? Try to let go of this belief for at least a week. Resting is a basic necessity no matter what you do with your time.
  • Take a small 30-minute nap during the day.
  • Take a moment to think about what resting and relaxation means for you?
  • Keep a calm head and focus on the following:
    • While sitting at a table, breathe in and raise your shoulders to your ears.
    • Let your shoulders fall during exhaling so that tension is relieved.
    • Look up and raise your arms one by one as if you’re trying to catch the sky.
    • Rub your head enthusiastically and tap all over it with your fingertips. Grab yourself lightly from your hair and let your hands go.
    • First pinch your jawbone area and then tap it with your fingertips. Then yawn loudly!
  • Let every student write down their sleep routine – what are they doing to improve their sleep at night?
  • Choose the sleep and resting masters of your class. Best at counting sheep! Master sleeper! Champion of relaxing!
  • Create a list of words that describe laziness: hanging out, lazing about, having a lie down, chilling, relaxing, loitering, etc. See how many more words you can think of!
  • Give your students at least one homework exercise per day where they have to go outside. Examples: Go and measure the length of spring flowers outside. Who has the largest puddle by their house? Or a patch of grass instead? Find the most silent place in your life and go listen to the silence!
  • Inspire your students to become the ambassadors of rest at home:
    • Let them write down 3–5 different ways to relax near their homes (like looking for signs of spring or going for a hike in a park)
    • Now let them take a photo of every place or method they wrote down and describe them with a couple of sentences.
    • When that’s done, tell them to craft small “rest ambassador flyers” where they describe why rest is necessary and bring out 3–5 examples of taking time out near your homes.
  • The sleep police game:
    • Browse our materials on vitamin sleep.
    • Let each student write down the rules of sleep of their home.
    • Challenge your students to become the sleep police of their house, who:
      • set bedtimes in their households in a way that all children get at least 10 and all adults at least 8 hours of sleep;
      • remind family members to put down smart devices an hour before bedtime;
      • reward the best sleepers of their household with small prizes.
    • Introduce the Pomodoro technique to your students. This technique helps them to focus better. Do a task for 25 minutes without interruptions (you can use a timer or app like https://tomato-timer.com/), then take a short 5 minute break where you get up, stretch, drink water or do some other relaxing thing and then focus on work for another 25 minutes. After 4 rounds, take a longer, 60-minute break.
    • Organise a sound hunt for your students:
      • Brainstorm a list of all the possible sounds that you think you could hear in the next 5 minutes;
      • Set a 5-minute alarm;
      • Now close your eyes and focus on the sounds around you;
      • After the alarm, make checkmarks after every sound in the list that you heard and improve the list with all the sounds you heard but could not think of before.

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