Sleep is the much-needed break instinctively desired at the end of each day. However, unlike what many may believe, there is more to the phenomenon than just mere rest. Believe it or not, there are a lot of activities happening while you sleep, and they have a highly significant effect on your mental health.
According to experts, sleep is an active period during which essential processing, restoration, and strengthening occur. Therefore, it is just as important as the time we spend awake.
This article is more focused on the relationship between sleep and your mental health. It has been found that sleep has a high impact on mental health. Likewise, people with mental health issues find it hard to sleep and so typically suffer insomnia and other sleeping disorders.
These sleeping disorders are widely discussed subjects when it comes to mental health and they include: insomnia, sleep apnea, parasomnias, sleep paralysis, restless legs syndrome, circadian disorders, narcolepsy, and a few more.
Experts also commonly label these as some of the significant symptoms of mental health disturbances like anxiety, depression, and other debilitating mental disorders.
Overall, it can be said that sleep is critical to optimal health and well-being. Here are key points and more detailed information about how sleep is particularly beneficial to your mental health.
1. Sleep Boosts Your Mood
A few hours of sleep can work wonders to elevate your mood and put you in high spirits. This is why experts highly recommend it for people with mental disorders of any kind.
Studies have shown that people who suffer insomnia or other forms of sleeping disorders tend to develop negative feelings like anger, sadness, irritation, anxiety, and many others.
On the other hand, lack of sleep can be a symptom of these mood disorders. Thus, the reason an expert may recommend sleeping as a crucial part of therapy for such affected persons.
- Sleep Helps You Face Each Day With a Positive Outlook
There is no denying the feeling of being refreshed after a good night's sleep. It helps you kick-start the day on a generally positive note, while a lack of or irregular sleep will most likely leave you feeling groggy and yawning all through the day.
This subsequently dampens your spirit and can set off several events that will make the day a significantly terrible or very tiring one.
3. Sleeping Facilitates Learning and Memory
Sleep provides rest for a tired brain, which subsequently helps you maintain attention and focus while carrying out daily activities.
Asides that, sleep is a time for the brain to consolidate memories, which is crucial to learning. This means a regular and ideal sleeping pattern can help you focus better when studying or learning something new.
Now that you know these crucial points about the benefits of sleep to your mental health, the next most important thing is keeping the psychological effects that sleep deprivation may have on your health. They are, but not limited to:
- Low self-esteem
- Lack of concentration
Albeit commonly heard of, most people don't believe that lack of sleep or any of these sleeping disorders that seem so ordinary can be the primary cause of mental health disturbances. However, there are numerous research studies to back up the statement that sleep is key to maintaining a healthy state of mind.
Sleep And Mental Health Lifestyle Changes
While lack of sleep is a notable cause of mental disorders, it is also widely regarded as a significant symptom of any of them. This also includes more complex psychiatric problems like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder, manic depression, and many others.
Either way, the treatment plans for any person who suffers from sleep disorders are basically the same. This includes lifestyle modifications, behavioral strategies, psychotherapy, and prescription of drugs.
- Lifestyle modifications. When sleep deprivation is identified as a significant contributor to any problem related to your mental health, an expert would first recommend making lifestyle changes. This includes but isn't limited to advice that you decrease the intake of substances known to inhibit sleep like caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, etc. If you take any stimulant, it is vital to stop the habit completely or avoid taking any before you go to bed.
- Physical activity. According to research, frequently exercising can help you sleep quicker. Aside from that, it ensures that you fall into a deep sleep, so you are not easily disturbed.
- Sleep hygiene. Psychiatrists believe that people may "learn" insomnia due to stress, and it can also be unlearned. Sleep hygiene is key to achieving this, and it includes practices like regular sleep-and-wake schedule, using the bedroom only for sleeping or sex, keeping the bedroom dimly lit and free of distractions like television or computer.
- Relaxation techniques. These are positive recommendations from health professionals. These include stretch exercises, meditation, yoga, and deep breathing exercises, which ultimately help you relax, countering the effects of mental disturbances like anxiety.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy. Over time of suffering from lack of sleep, insomniacs tend to get overly anxious about their inability to fall asleep quickly or stay so successful. Cognitive behavioral techniques are made to help individuals change negative expectations and try to build more confidence that they can have a good night's sleep.
In conclusion, it is essential to know that a tired brain will work less efficiently than average, which subsequently leads to emotional disturbances. These may set off a cycle of negativity, all-round distress, and, generally, damage your mental health and overall outlook on life.
Merely sleeping for five hours or more can help solve a number of these problems, so the importance of a regular sleeping pattern cannot be overemphasized.
Many advantages come with regular sleeping and many disadvantages with not doing so. Do you or anyone near you belong to the population of people battling insomnia or the more complex sleep disorders?
As outlined above, you must modify your daily habits to ensure that you are in a relaxed state at nighttime, which makes falling asleep an easier task. The solution you need may be limited to conservative methods like lifestyle changes.
On the other hand, it may require more complex treatment methods if you find that sleeping is still a challenging task for you despite your effort to relax.
A visit to the doctor is the best option for such complexities. He may refer you to a psychiatrist for further care; if so, remember nothing beats being honest about your needs and past experiences.
This may help you find peace of mind, and if necessary, drug prescriptions that will help aid sleeping.
Your mental health is just as important as your physical health, pay attention to it!
Alaska Sleep Clinic And Your Mental Health
Angie Randazzo, PhD, is a licensed clinical psychologist at St. Luke's Sleep Medicine and Research Center, St. Louis, MO. She received her doctorate from the University of Missouri-St. Louis and her master's from Southern Illinois University. She began her sleep medicine career in 1989 when she joined James K. Walsh, PhD, at the Sleep Disorders Center at the former Deaconess Hospital in St. Louis.
She began treating sleep-disordered patients at the Sleep Medicine and Research Center at St. Luke's Hospital in 1993. She has 25 years of experience treating all types of sleep disorders, including insomnia, delayed sleep phase, sleep apnea, shift work and daytime fatigue/sleepiness, using behavioral techniques. Behavioral interventions target behaviors and thinking that maintain or worsen sleep disturbances, and the techniques teach patients self-management skills to improve their sleep and resume healthy, normal sleep.
Dr. Randazzo's primary research interests include insomnia, clinical pharmacology, sleep deprivation and the relationship of sleep and behavior. She has conducted more than 100 clinical research trials, and she is the author of 18 publications on the topic of sleep, including sleep restriction in children, for which she received the 1997 American Sleep Disorders Association Young Investigator Award.
Impaired sleep can seriously affect your quality of life and productivity. Behavioral changes implemented under the guidance of an experienced clinician can improve sleep quality and help you feel more alert and functional on a regular basis. Sleep is a third of your life – make it count!
Alaska Sleep Clinic is the most comprehensive multisite sleep lab in Alaska with clinics in Anchorage, Wasilla, Fairbanks, and Soldotna and we continue to expand our services to those with sleep disorders. Angie Randazzo, PhD, is a specialist in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) with expertise in sleep disorders. No other CBT sleep specialist provides care in the state of Alaska. She is available to Alaska Sleep Clinic’s patients via telemedicine, through SleepTM.
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