How Sleep Affects Mental Health
Sleep is one of the most important things that you can do to improve your mental health. When we sleep, our brains are recharging and working on all of the information they took in throughout the day. It's important to get enough sleep at night so that your brain doesn't have to work overtime when it's time for you to be awake! In this blog post, learn how much sleep is enough, what causes poor sleep quality, and strategies for improving your sleep quality.
While you're sleeping, your brain also works on other things that are important for mental health. Your brain is constantly working to regulate hormones and neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, GABA, etc. It does this because these chemicals play a huge role in how our body feels emotionally throughout the day! If we don't have enough of them, we might feel depressed, anxious, and unmotivated.
When you don't get enough sleep or your quality of sleep is poor, the chemicals in your brain aren't balanced correctly. This can lead to a variety of mental health disorders including anxiety and depression. For this reason, it's important that you make sure you're getting enough sleep.
How much sleep is enough
The amount of sleep that's needed varies from person to person, but there are some guidelines for how much time people need each day in order to feel well-rested and energetic throughout the day. For teenagers who are going through puberty, they need more sleep because their bodies are developing. For this reason, it's recommended that teenagers get about nine hours of sleep each night.
For other adults who don't fall into the teenager category, most people need seven to eight hours of sleep per night in order for them to feel well-rested and energetic throughout the day. Some people need more than this, and others need less. If you're feeling tired throughout the day, make sure to pay attention to how much sleep you get each night.
If you want to figure out how much time you should spend sleeping every night, go with seven-eight hours per night for adults in general (unless otherwise recommended by a doctor). If you're not getting that amount of sleep, try going to bed earlier or trying some strategies for improving your quality of sleep!
Strategies to improve your sleep quality
If you have a hard time falling asleep at night and staying asleep throughout the night, there may be reasons why this could be happening. Some common causes include:
- Not having a regular bedtime and waking up every morning at the same time
- Stress and anxiety that you're feeling throughout your day that keeps you awake at night
- Not having a bedtime routine that you stick to every night
Stress is a huge cause of sleep deprivation, especially if you're constantly worrying about things that happened during the day or are thinking about problems that need to be solved. Try going for a walk outside or listening to some calm music before bed so you can wind down from your stressful thoughts! If this doesn't work, you might need to talk to someone about how stressed and anxious you feel.
I discussed ways to improve your sleep hygiene in a previous post. Essentially, they include:
- keeping your bedroom device free and using an alarm clock instead of smart phone
- creating a calm environment
- keeping the bedroom cool and dark
- ensuring your pillow is the right height for your neck
If these strategies do not seem like they're working for you, it's a good idea to speak with your doctor. They can help figure out why things aren't improving and what other options are available for you.
Consequences of not getting enough sleep
When you don't get enough sleep, it impacts every area of your life. You may feel like you're unable to focus and be productive during the day because your mind isn't feeling well-rested and alert. Inadequate sleep can lead to fatigue-related issues such as decreased productivity and increased risk for accidents. A lack of quality sleep can also lead to mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.
I feel that once you are experiencing poor sleep and depression and/or anxiety, it then becomes a become a bit of a chicken and egg scenario. What came first and what needs to be addressed first? Were you feeling anxious already and that is impacting your sleep or is the lack of sleep making you feel more anxious during the day? Starting with improving your sleep habits may be a good first step to address these issues as making the changes necessary are not onerous.
How lack of sleep affects mental health disorders
The chemicals in our brains are very sensitive to sleep deprivation, which can make it even harder for people who are struggling with mental health problems. People who have depression or anxiety may experience more severe symptoms when they don't get enough quality sleep every night.
When you're not feeling well-rested and your brain isn't getting enough time to recharge, it can be more difficult for people with depression or anxiety disorders to cope with the feelings that they are having throughout their day. It's important for these individuals to get a regular amount of high quality sleep so that their brains have the energy and ability to address the feelings that they're having and work to overcome them. It's hard to feel motivated or energised throughout the day when you don't get quality rest at night.
Your mental health is not to be taken lightly. Mental health disorders can make it difficult for individuals to function in everyday life and do the things that they love, including work or spending time with friends and family members. If you feel like you're struggling with mental illness, please make sure that you speak with your doctor about what options might best suit your needs.
Sleep is a crucial part of our lives, but it often gets pushed to the side when we're busy or overwhelmed with things that need to get done during the day. Get into a habit of having a bedtime routine and make sure you get enough sleep every night so you can show up each day feeling rested and ready to handle whatever life throws at you.