Link Between Sleep and Mental Health – Most people recognize how important it is to get a good night’s sleep before an important day, otherwise you wake up feeling tired and your brain and body are unable to function at their best. However, what’s often less appreciated are the connections between long-term sleep deprivation and mental health. Research shows that, not only can sleep deprivation contribute to the worsening of symptoms of pre-existing conditions such as anxiety, depression, or psychiatric disorders, but a lack of sleep has also been linked to the onset of these disorders.
Additionally, those who already have a mental health disorder are significantly more likely to also have a sleep disorder such as insomnia, restless leg syndrome, sleep apnoea, or sleepwalking. Even on a surface level, a handful of sleepless nights often begets more sleepless nights in a frustrating cycle—worry or stress keeps you up at night, you lose sleep and wake up tired and less able to cope with daily stressors, resulting in even more stress and a renewed inability to fall asleep.
Essentially, although the mechanisms behind the link connecting sleep and mental health are not entirely clear, it is evident that the two are deeply connected. At Horizon Plymouth, we are invested in the mental health of our clients, and such a link cannot be ignored when promoting general wellness and recovery. Because living with a mental health problem can affect the way you sleep—and is similarly affected by the way you sleep, it is important to consider the quality and quantity of your sleep in the context of overall mental health.
Ways to improve sleep quality
Saying that it’s important to get enough sleep is one thing, but how do you manage to make it happen if you lie awake at night, seemingly unable to get good rest no matter what you do? Sleep hygiene is the process of “cleaning up” your bedtime routine to help promote falling asleep and staying asleep. Even if you do not currently experience sleep difficulties, implementing healthy sleep habits now can act as a protective factor for future mental health conditions. The following are some elements of sleep hygiene that can help you to begin to establish a positive, healthy sleep routine.
- Turn off your screens at least 30 minutes before getting in bed
- Only get in bed when you’re about to go to sleep—no eating, lounging, or watching TV in bed
- Establish a calming night time routine that you perform each night before going to sleep
- Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and large meals before bed
- Keep your sleeping area as quiet and as dark as possible
- Try to get some exercise in during the day, even if it’s just a light afternoon stroll
- Start dimming your lights and slowing your evening pace before beginning your bedtime routine
At Horizon Plymouth, our goal is to help people take care of themselves and their mental state so that they can live happier, healthier lives. While counselling is what we do best, informing our clients about steps that they can take to promote positive outcomes helps to supplement counselling sessions and promote wellness in our clients. So, while it’s important to talk to a therapist for help dealing with any persistent or serious mental health concerns that you may have, taking certain steps such as getting better quality sleep at night can help to support therapeutic gains made in the clinic.
If you are not currently receiving counselling and would like to start, or would like to receive more information, contact us at Horizon Plymouth today, and get started on your journey of supporting positive mental health.