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Getting a good night’s rest is essential to maintaining your mental health. Poor sleep can affect how you perform throughout the day. If you’re sleep deprived, it’ll begin to show up in all areas of your life.
With all of life’s commitments, it can be challenging to get to bed at a reasonable time. What can make this even more of a challenge is struggling with sleep problems like insomnia. Learning about the connection between sleep and mental health and how you can improve your sleep habits can help you improve your mental health.
Why Is Sleep Important for Your Mental Health?
When you sleep, your brain has a chance to restore and recharge itself. According to the Association for the Psychophysiological Study of Sleep, adults should get seven or more hours of sleep per night. Anything less than seven hours regularly can lead to health complications.
Sleep is connected to mental health, and a lack of it can contribute to depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders. These conditions can also cause insomnia in some individuals. Insomnia can make it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep. If you’re having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, it may be time to seek professional help.
When you sleep, your brain goes through different sleep stages that make up the sleep cycle. Each of these stages is important for brain health. Some of the effects of lack of sleep include low mood, anxiety, irritability, and poor cognitive functioning. In addition, severely sleep-deprived people may experience erratic behavior or psychotic episodes. With nearly one in five adults struggling with a mental health disorder, you can’t afford to miss out on sleep.
Sleep and Mental Health Problems
Sleep problems are associated with various mental health disorders. The symptoms of various mental health concerns can lead to a lack of sleep and too much sleep.
According to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) article on “Depression,” over 200 million people worldwide have depression. Some individuals who struggle with depression suffer from hypersomnia, which is sleeping too much, or insomnia. Poor sleep can cause depression to develop or worsen existing depression.
Approximately 19.1% of adults in the U.S. have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder in the past year. A person struggling with anxiety worries excessively and constantly lives in fear. Some types of anxiety disorders include:
- Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
- Social anxiety disorder
- Panic disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Specific phobias
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
When a person with anxiety tries to sleep at night, their mind may be racing. In people with PTSD, nightmares or flashbacks to traumatic events may prevent sleep.
Sleep is crucial to managing bipolar disorder; however, many people with bipolar disorder suffer from sleep problems. Bipolar disorder is characterized by extreme mood shifts ranging from depressive lows to manic highs. These episodes can negatively impact an individual’s quality of life.
During manic episodes, many people with bipolar disorder can go days without sleep. However, during depressive episodes, they may sleep excessively. Sleep disturbance has been proven to worsen symptoms of bipolar disorder.
Schizophrenia is a disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. It’s common for a person with schizophrenia to experience insomnia. Certain medications used to treat schizophrenia can also magnify sleep problems.
How to Get a Better Night’s Rest
Although mental health disorders can cause sleep disturbances, there are things you can do that may improve your sleep. Remember that everyone is different, and habits that work for others may not work for you.
One way to improve sleep habits is to have better sleep hygiene; what you do in the hours before heading to bed matters. Some steps you can take to improve sleep include:
- Creating a consistent sleep schedule; try to go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time
- Avoiding caffeine late in the day
- Creating a bedtime routine
- Using relaxation techniques to wind down
- Setting your bedroom up for sleep; may look like turning off the lights, playing relaxing music, or putting away your electronics.
- Limiting daytime naps; napping throughout the day can disrupt your natural sleep cycle.
- Exercising regularly
- Using your bedroom for sleeping only
- If you can’t sleep, get out of bed and do something relaxing until you feel tired.
Seeking Professional Help
If your sleep problems persist even after you change your sleep habits, it may be time to reach out for professional help from a therapist. Certain types of talk therapy, like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), can help you manage a mental health disorder like depression or anxiety.
There’s also a specific treatment for insomnia called cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I), where a trained CBT-I provider will work with you to identify thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that could lead to insomnia symptoms.
You don’t have to deal with sleep troubles forever. You can see improvements in your sleep with the proper habits and treatment plan.
Sleep plays a critical role in your mental wellness. A lack of sleep can cause existing disorders to progress or new health problems. When you’re not getting enough sleep, it can show up in other areas of your life. You may have a mental health disorder that’s causing your sleep problems. If this is the case, there is help available. At Alter Wellness Care, we treat a variety of mental health problems. We have a team of mental health professionals dedicated to ensuring you receive the best quality treatment. When you’re struggling, it’s essential to have a place that understands your issues and is equipped with the tools to help you. We’re a welcoming community, striving to make our treatment center feel like home. If you or a loved one needs mental health care, call us today at (866) 311-3510.