Spring is synonymous with a fresh start after the cold and dreary winter evenings. There’s no better time to brush off the cobwebs and freshen up – and we always look ahead to spring cleaning. When we think of spring cleaning, we imagine ourselves organising the drawers and the cupboards, clearing out the closet, or tidying up the garden. However, a spring clean can be more than clearing out your home – it could be a great way to clear out your emotional space, too. Just as cleaning the house and getting rid of clutter can feel invigorating, spring cleaning your mind can take away the burden of stress and anxiety, helping you live better and sleep well. Below, you’ll find advice on spring cleaning for a healthy sleep.
Getting a good sleep is a great way to help get rid of emotional clutter. Find out how you can get a good sleep in the spring with our article, ‘Sleeping Well in Spring‘.
Dealing with A “Stress Mess”
We’ve all got cluttered homes – stacks of shoes, old clothes that wear dust, and cooking utensils that we always intend to use but never do. Just as you’ve got all this stuff cluttering your physical space, you’ll have stress that clutters your emotional and psychological space. Stress isn’t just a reaction to something big and sudden, like a serious health problem or dealing with a death in the family. Instead, stress can be experienced in everyday moments that can put pressure on us. Your boss piles more work on an already heavy to-do list, something stops working in your home and it can’t be fixed within a week, or your child is sick and you can’t find someone to look after them while you go to work. This “stress mess” clogs up your mental space with anxiety, worry, depression, irritability, and anger – to name a few. With all these harmful emotions, you could possibly start to think negatively, be pessimistic, or cynical.1
The stress mess isn’t just not feeling great – it can actually be quite harmful for your health. Stress hormones, like cortisol and adrenaline, are dumped into your body. This will increase your heartbeat and raise your blood pressure.2 This could harm the quality of your sleep, as you need to be relaxed to fall asleep. If you’re worked up due to stress, you won’t fall asleep easily. Plus, these hormones could also cause the liver to dump glucose into your blood stream, and this could increase the risk of diabetes.3
Sleep Apnoea and Health
Stress can also make you eat more, eat too quickly, or eat foods that are high in sugar or fat. These all result in weight gain. While we all indulge in comfort eating now and again, it’s still important to be mindful of what you eat as weight gain could lead to sleep apnoea. This extra weight might put pressure on your throat and interrupt your breathing while you sleep. This’ll wake you up. While your breathing will resume normally and you’ll go back to sleep without knowing you were awake at all, this could happen up to hundreds of times in one night. These frequent awakenings will weaken the quality of your sleep, leading to daytime fatigue and further frustrations and irritability. Find out more about sleep apnoea in our article here.
Not only will this contribute to poor sleep quality, but poor health, too. If you’re not healthy, you’ll struggle to get a good sleep even more. Read about the connection between health and the quality of your sleep in our topic, Health and Sleep.
With all these harmful consequences of stress, it’s important that you de-clutter your headspace. Stress can keep you awake when you need to go to sleep, and you’ll be even more frustrated during the day. Therefore, spring cleaning your home and mind is a great way to help yourself get a good sleep.
Spring Cleaning Your Mind for a Better Sleep
You throw out old shoes and donate clothes that no longer fit to the charity shop, but how do you clean out your mental space? We’ve gathered some tips for spring cleaning for a healthy sleep.
1. It no longer fits
Emotions like resentment, anger, or bitterness are like clothes that no longer fit, are worn out, and outdated. Throw them out. You have no more use for them, but you’ve been hanging onto them. They aren’t useful, so they need to go. Think of the negative emotions as an ugly coat that’s got holes and stains. Throw it into the closest bin bag – just as you need to make room for a new coat, you need to make room for new, happier emotions.
2. You haven’t worn it in years
There are emotions that lurk in the shadows of your mind, forgotten. And then, they’ll jump out and bite you. It’s usually some old childhood grudge. Maybe you’re the youngest child so everyone always saw you as the baby and didn’t let you make decisions. Your response was a tantrum or slamming doors. Now, you get angry when you’re left out of meetings at work, or maybe your opinion isn’t asked about where to meet up with friends. To stop yourself from getting worked up over these situations, it’s time to let go of that grudge and move on. Letting go of old grudges will be like a breath of fresh air – you’re only holding yourself back, after all.
3. Straighten out your priorities
Ask yourself, “what’s important to me?” Is it self-care, support from your family and friends? Maybe it’s making sure that you have time to read every day, or another hobby that you like? Spending time with your dog, or going for a jog every morning? Taking the time to answer this question can help to reduce decision fatigue, taking away the mental clutter that comes with trying to decide where to place your time and energy. This is especially true when you work all day – the evening should be when you catch up on you.
4. Sweep away self-criticism
It’s easier said than done – but it can be done. If you catch yourself using negative words about yourself, stop! Replace the negativity with positive, encouraging language, like “I’m doing my best”. Life is about progress, not perfection. Nobody is perfect, and people who are continuously striving for perfection could be missing out on some happiness.
5. Focus on your physical health
A big part of sustaining your mental health is maintaining your physical health. With brighter mornings, spring is a great time to vow to clean up your exercise routine. It doesn’t have to be a vigorous workout at the gym – even a 20-minute walk in the morning could help to boost your mood and get you ready for the day ahead. Just make sure that you aren’t exercising too close to bedtime – the earlier the better. Plus, exercising outdoors during the day will help your circadian rhythm as you’ll get more sunlight. This’ll help your inner body clock adjust to the new season so that you can enjoy a good sleep. Read more about your circadian rhythm here.
6. Brush away the dust
Deep spring cleaning can be therapeutic. Weekly or bi-weekly cleaning around the house may seem like enough, but you probably don’t clean out the clutter or get rid of those cobwebs hiding in the corners. Open the windows and switch on the vacuum – cleaning out all the dust and cobwebs will help you breathe better at night for a better sleep. This is especially true if you suffer from allergies.
7. Clear the nightstand of tech
If you leave your phone next to your bed, it’s time to find somewhere else for it to spend the night. If you get a text at 1 a.m., this could wake you up. If you check your phone, the blue light that’s emitted from the screen could disrupt your circadian rhythm, your inner clock that decides when you’re sleepy or awake. This will make it harder for you to go back to sleep. The best way to help yourself snooze all night long would be to leave your phone out of the room. However, this may not be possible – maybe you use your phone as an alarm clock. If you can’t leave your phone in another room, make sure it’s on silent mode or check if it’s got a ‘Do Not Disturb’ feature. This setting prevents any texts, calls, or notifications from sounding during the hours you set, and is a great way to make sure your phone doesn’t wake you up. Read more about technology’s effect on your sleep here.
8. Check your bedding and bed
While you probably already wash your bedlinens on a regular basis, don’t forget about washing bulky comforters or your duvet cover. While you’re at it, throw your pillows into a hot water cycle, and clean and rotate your mattress. By doing this in the spring, you could kill any dust mites that have survived the winter. With no dust mites, you won’t be itchy or sneezing, and you can look forward to a good, healthy sleep.
9. De-clutter your bedroom
Making sure that your bedroom is in order is a great way to help yourself de-stress and sleep better. If you’re always looking at a mess in your room while you’re getting into bed, this can trigger stress. This is the last thing you want when you’re trying to fall asleep. A tidy room will put your mind at ease and is more conducive to sleep. Clear any dirty laundry off the floor and leave it in a washing basket instead. You could even rearrange the furniture if your room doesn’t feel comforting or relaxing. Keep your nightstand, closet, and dresser organised, and remove piles of books, magazines, or mail from around your bed. You don’t have to be completely minimalist – some books and soothing scents are fine to keep in arm’s reach. Just make sure that you get rid of visual chaos – less chaos, less stress, better sleep.