The Importance of Sleep Health
World Mental Health Day takes place every October, and sleep is intrinsically linked to good health and mental wellbeing.
We all recognise the signs the next day when we’ve not slept well: general lethargy, irritability, and reduced concentration, and that’s just for starters. But long-term sleep deprivation can trigger serious mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.
Sleep and mental health
There are many ways mental health problems can negatively affect both the quality and quantity of our sleep…
Anxiety has been found to affect our sleep rhythms. A feeling of anxiousness increases our heart rate which causes our brains to race, making us far to stimulated to sleep. And when our minds are active it can trigger other worries making sleep even harder.
The winter blues or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is caused due to a reduced exposure to sunlight during the colder, darker months. The lower light we experience increases our production of melatonin, the hormone that makes us sleepy, and decreases serotonin, the hormone that regulates our mood.
Depression can affect our ability to sleep and how we sleep. It can prompt oversleeping, but it can also cause insomnia, negatively impacting the way our bodies repair and heal themselves as we sleep.
How to promote good sleep and protect your mental health
There are lots of well-known ways to help us stay physically healthy and mentally positive such as exercising regularly and maintaining a good diet. But it’s sleep’s relationship with mental health that is pivotal, so here are a few tips to help you get the sleep you need.
Your body and mind like routine so try and go to bed and get up at the same time every day.
Avoid screens an hour before bedtime as they stimulate the brain.
Introduce a wind down routine before bed.
Exercise regularly, ideally three times a week for 30 minutes.
Avoid alcohol and caffeine close to bedtime as both interrupt sleep during the night.
Write a list of any concerns, worries or workloads that can be addressed the next day.
Make your bedroom a sleep sanctuary to help encourage sleep. A beautiful bed, a comfortable, supportive mattress, and blissful bedding that cocoons you will create a safe and peaceful haven perfect for sleep.
Mind is a leading charity who provide advice and support to empower anyone experiencing mental health problems.