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The Connection Between Sleep and Mental Health

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Recent research published in the journal Sleep suggests that a lack of sleep might be causing mental health issues. In this study, researchers observed that people with sleep deprivation were more likely to have mental health issues such as anxiety. And indeed the link between a lack of sleep and mental health is a very real one. The association has been found to be so strong that it is being argued that sleep deprivation may have a direct effect on the mind, which leads to depression or other mental illnesses.

So if you lack sleep, not only can you become less productive because of being tired, but you can be risking yourself to a decline in mental health. To avoid this, you have to eliminate what causes you to not sleep well.

What causes poor sleep in adults?

Poor sleep in adults has various causes. Some of the causes are the following.

  • Age
  • Stress
  • Living environment
  • Sleep disorder

Age can impact your sleep

Age is a factor in poor sleep in adults from 18 to 65 years old. The older a person gets, the less they need to sleep because their body does not function at its best when it is deprived of sufficient rest.

People between 18 and 65 years old want to sleep 7–9 hours per day, but they only achieve 6–7 hours on average.

Stress can give you trouble sleeping

It is also a fact that stress can cause poor sleep in adults. This could be from work or from other life events such as family issues or breaking up with a partner.

Stress alters our natural sleeping patterns, and this can lead to insomnia which will have an effect on our daytime performance at work.

Your environment plays a big role in your sleep

The sound of traffic outside, the brightness of street lights and even the colour of your bedroom all play a role in how well we sleep. In fact, research shows that people who live near a busy highway have less deep sleep than those who live far from traffic.

Sleep disorders are on the rise

The National Sleep Foundation has found that one-third of people surveyed get less than seven hours of sleep. Meanwhile, according to a 2020 study, the prevalence of sleep disorders such as narcolepsy and obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) increased significantly from 2013 to 2016.

How is lack of sleep affecting your life?

Lack of sleep causes a decline in our cognitive function, which can lead to an increase in irritability and an inability to focus. Lack of sleep also causes weight gain and makes us more prone to developing type-2 diabetes and heart disease. Many studies have shown that not getting enough sleep can lead to obesity, mental illness and even Alzheimer’s disease. And when you are experiencing all of these, it can make a big impact on your mental health and general wellness. So you need to find a way to rest regularly. And the good thing is that there are natural things that you can do to sleep peacefully at night.

Why are we thirsty before bed?

Dennis Relojo-Howell, the founder of psychology website Psychreg, explains: ‘The urge to guzzle water right before bedtime might be due to the workings of the brain’s inner clock. A 2016 study reveals that the biological clock stimulates thirst in the hours before sleep. Experts also suggest that our body knows that hours without hydration are ahead, and it recharges our fluid supply, hence, feeling more thirsty at night.’

You can improve your mental health by increasing your quality of sleep

Quality of sleep is an important factor in mental health. People who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to suffer from mental health issues than those who do.

So you need to sleep. But how?

  • Follow a bedtime routine before you go to bed. When you stick to a bedtime routine, your body and the hormonal system will get used to it. So eventually, as you keep on doing the same routine nightly, your body will always prepare itself to sleep every time.
  • Create a dark, quiet environment before you go to bed. Our sleep cycle is naturally like this. When it becomes dark, our skin and body sense it, triggering the pineal gland to produce melatonin so that we feel sleepy. When it is bright, the pineal gland is activated to stop producing melatonin. So when it’s nighttime, and you still keep on being exposed to light, especially blue light, your system will be messed up. It would be best if you kept your room dark at least an hour before sleep time.
  • Avoid screens altogether one hour before bedtime. Screens like the TV, smartphones, and computers display blue light, which can mess up your melatonin production at night. So it would be best if you avoided them at least one hour before you lay down in bed.
  • Keep the temperature cool while you’re sleeping. The ideal temperature for sleeping in a bedroom is around 18.3 degrees Celsius. Most experts recommend having the thermostat set between 15.6 and 19.4 degrees Celsius for the most pleasant sleep. To keep your temperature right all night, it would be best if your room had an automated air conditioning system or thermostat. This way, you won’t have to get up simply to change settings when it’s too hot or too cold.
  • Don’t eat too close to bedtime. Nutritionists recommend waiting two hours between your last meal and bedtime as a general rule of thumb.  This enables digestion and the passage of stomach contents into the small intestine. And this could help you avoid issues like nighttime heartburn and even insomnia.
  • Exercise regularly during the day. Working out is healthy for your body and mind, and it can even help you sleep better. People who exercise for at least 30 minutes a day may notice an improvement in their sleep quality the next night. However, for some people, exercising late in the day can make it difficult to get a good night’s sleep. So it would be best to exercise in the morning rather than in the afternoon.
  • Take a natural sleeping aid. Of course, you cannot control your environment sometimes. Also, following the mentioned tips and making new habits can take time. But you need to sleep. And you can do it tonight with a natural sleeping aid. To coax you into peaceful nights of sleep, take Lullaby Sleep Softgels. They contain cannabinol (CBN), melatonin, and Roman chamomile. CBN makes you feel sleepy, melatonin supplements the natural levels you are lacking, and chamomile makes you feel comfortable and stress-free.

Ellen Diamond did her degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. She is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.

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