Sleep and Mental Health: 5 Ways To Improve Your Sleep For Your Mental Health

Sleep plays a vital role in better regulating our moods. Getting enough sleep positively impacts our overall health and well-being. While we sleep, our body supports healthy brain function and restores our bodies every day. In terms of mental health, sleep influences our thoughts, feelings, actions, and our ability to handle stress, make good choices, improve our moods, and maintain good relationships with others. Sleep helps our brain function properly. Studies show that a good night's sleep improves learning and problem-solving skills. Quality sleep, including enough deep sleep, helps us feel refreshed, energized, and motivated.

Children and teenagers need 9-10 hours of sleep each night. Younger children tend to go to sleep earlier and wake earlier. As children grow into teenagers, they tend to get tired later and sleep in later. Adults should aim for at least 8 hours of sleep each night. If you feel tired during the day, consider taking naps or getting more sleep at bedtime.

Admittedly, sleep helps your brain function properly, and not getting enough sleep or experiencing poor-quality sleep has many potential consequences. Lack of sleep affects how you feel, think, work, learn, and interact with others. Poor sleep over a sustained period leads to problems such as fatigue, sleepiness, poor concentration, lapses in memory, and irritability.

One of the most common sleep conditions is insomnia, characterized by a lack of sleep or poor-quality sleep. A person with insomnia may experience low mood, energy, and concentration levels, and their relationships and ability to function during the day can be negatively affected. Poor sleep can increase the risk of poor health. Common mental health problems that often accompany sleep problems include anxiety and depression. Anxiety is a feeling of fear and uneasiness, which can arise from various stressors like exams, interviews, or important decisions. Depression is a mood disorder characterized by persistent feelings of sadness and loss of interest. Seeking professional help can guide you towards achieving good quality sleep.

Sleep is important, and to achieve regular and quality sleep, you must establish a great routine. To improve your sleep, consider the following tips to regulate your bedtime and ensure a good night's rest.

1. Good Sleep Routine

Having a regular routine helps improve sleep. This is sometimes called sleep hygiene. Going to bed and waking up at fixed times is a good sleep habit. Be consistent with your bedtime schedule. Adults should try to go to bed by at least 9 PM to wake up early. Dim the lights in your room and avoid excessive screen time before bed. A good sleep routine will decrease the chances of staying up late and feeling groggy the next morning.

2. Try Meditation and Mindfulness

Meditation and mindfulness can help you relax before sleep. Reading, listening to soft music or a podcast, or sleep meditation can all help if you have trouble sleeping. Drinking tea before bed can also help you feel relaxed and warm. To practice mindfulness, try writing about your day. Managing anxiety, worry, and stress can improve your sleep. Journaling or calling a friend can help manage worries and lessen stress.

3. Right Sleep Environment

Creating the right sleep environment improves sleep. It's generally easier to feel sleepy when it's quiet, dark, and cool. Some people find ambient sounds like rainfall, gentle music, or white noise helpful. Good curtains or blinds can keep a room dark and avoid unwanted light. Ensure your room is the right temperature for you and well-ventilated.

4. Do Not Force Sleep

If you are lying in bed awake and unable to sleep, do not try to force it. Sleep naturally occurs when our body is tired and ready for rest. Instead, get up and sit in a comfortable place, doing something relaxing like reading a book or listening to quiet music.

5. Diet and Exercise

A good diet and regular physical exercise can help you relax and get better sleep. Avoid large meals close to bedtime, generally 1 to 2 hours before bed. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine before bedtime to help you feel sleepier. Regular exercise aids sleep, but avoid vigorous activity 90 minutes before bedtime if it disrupts your sleep.

In this article, we can see the importance of getting enough sleep. Better sleep during your bedtime helps your emotion to regulate and feel the brighter day. Poor sleep is easily recognized and if you are having trouble sleeping, consider seeking professional help. Seeking professional help can identify the causes of poor sleep or daytime sleepiness. Having a quality sleep improves our moods and makes us feel more energized. Professionals may ask for more information about your sleep troubles. If you're ready to start your journey to better well-being, Empath’s team of mental health professionals is here to help. Book a mental health consultation at www.empath.ph.

References:

  • American Psychiatric Association. (13 January, 2023). Making Sleep a Priority for Mental Well-Being. https://www.psychiatry.org/news-room/apa-blogs/making-sleep-a-priority-for-mental-well-being
  • Harvard Health Publishing. (17 August, 2021). Sleep deprivation can affect your mental health. https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/sleep-and-mental-health
  • National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institution. (n.d.). How Sleep Affects Your Health. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/sleep-deprivation/health-effects#:~:text=Mental%20health%20benefits,learning%20and%20problem%2Dsolving%20skills.
  • NHS. Better Health. (n.d.). How to fall asleep faster and sleep better. https://www.nhs.uk/every-mind-matters/mental-wellbeing-tips/how-to-fall-asleep-faster-and-sleep-better/
  • Mental Health Foundation (1 December, 2022). Sleep Matters: The Impact Of Sleep On Health And Wellbeing. https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/explore-mental-health/publications/sleep-matters-impact-sleep-health-and-wellbeing
  • Sleep Health Foundation (12 September, 2023). When and how do I seek help for my sleep? https://www.sleephealthfoundation.org.au/news-and-articles/when-and-how-do-i-seek-help-for-my-sleep
  • Suni, E. & Dimitriu, A. (24 March, 2024). Mental Health and Sleep. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/mental-health

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