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College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences

March 12, 2024 - 9:04am --

With the time change, I’m really enjoying the extra daylight, but I must admit, the sleep schedule was a little more challenging this year.  We know that studies show that when we get healthy sleep it’s easier to eat well, move more, and be in a good place mentally.  American Actor Thomas Dekker shares that “Sleep is the golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.” Our OSU Mindful Wellness team shared this information this week with March being National Sleep Awareness Month.  Sufficient sleep is essential for overall health and well-being.  On the flip side, lack of sleep contributes to stress, lack of productivity, and feelings of helplessness.  Being deprived of sleep can mimic an intoxicated state which ultimately may lead to injuries, poor quality of life, and increased health care costs. 

So how do we go about changing our habits to ensure a good night's sleep?  Here are a few ideas to consider:

Establish a regular routine.  Getting up at a regular time every day is helpful, yes even on the weekends.   Enjoying the sunshine early in the day helps our internal body clock to acknowledge being awake and it’s helpful if we can get outside during the morning with the sunlight and movement.  Then when evening comes, we’ll feel sleepier earlier. 

Beginning an evening routine is essential, especially for children.  Time outdoors, a snack, a bath, and reading a book may all be part of the time before they climb into bed.  Having a regular schedule helps them feel secure as they know what to expect each evening. 

Monitor stressors in life. Whether it’s work hours, the kids’ schedules, or the to-do list, the more focused we are on our concerns, the harder it is for our bodies to relax and go to sleep.  That’s no surprise to many, but the challenge is how do I turn the brain off?  Keep a pencil and paper by the bedside and write down things that are on your mind before drifting off, then you won’t have to worry about remembering them till morning.  If falling asleep is the problem, try soothing music or a mindfulness practice that helps to relax the body and train the mind to let things go. provides helpful practices and a guide to achieving mindful sleep

Turning off the screens.

Make it a point to have some screen-free time in the home.  Leave the phones away from the table during mealtime.  Take walks outside with conversation, not texting.  Selectively choose what’s on the television or video screens and try to plan for no screen time at least 30-60 minutes before bedtime. This allows the brain to settle and the internal clock to release the natural melatonin to induce sleep.  The blue light from many screens is stimulating, not relaxing and can interfere with sleep patterns. If school or work extends into the evening, look for a screen light filter that makes the color of the screen adapt to the time of day.

Get Moving.  The daily recommendation is 10,000 steps a day and while Ohio weather may challenge that regularly, moving more is a goal for many of us.  Taking the time to move every 30 minutes is another encouragement and working from home it’s easy to lose track of the time.  Set alarms to move and challenge yourself to get more steps every day. With children, take a walk, play ball or while they are at their events use the time to walk with another parent to increase your health.  Physical activity increases chemicals like serotonin which help with our internal clock and decrease our stress levels.

If sleep is a challenge for you or for someone you care about, give mindfulness a try.  Whether it’s a practice at night or as you take a walk during the day it strengthens our brains to focus on the present and helps us to be present to tackle the challenges of the moment.  It may be the best thing you’ve tried to improve your health both mentally and physically.

Melinda Hill is an OSU Extension Family & Consumer Sciences Educator and may be reached at 330-264-8722 or
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This article was previously published in The Daily Record.