Have you noticed that whenever you don’t get enough sleep, you spend the next day feeling dazed or cranky? The reason behind this is that sleep has a very close relationship with your mental and emotional health.
Those suffering from mental health issues such as depression and anxiety often have trouble falling asleep, and at times it’s the lack of sleep that leads to the origin of mental health problems, among other factors.
SweetIslandDreams.com knows the value of sleep and how it impacts your overall mental health, which is why we’re here to discuss the importance of sleep for good mental health; and how you can sleep better to be in a better mental state.
How is sleep connected to mental health?
The activities in our brain increase and decrease during various stages of our sleep cycle. Each stage is deeply linked with our brain health, assisting with learning, thinking, and memory, which is why sleep is so closely connected to our mental health.
When you get sufficient sleep, your mind is better equipped to process emotional information. Lack of sleep, on the other hand, hinders the processing of positive emotional details, affecting your mood and reactions.
Recent research has suggested that there exists a bidirectional relationship between mental health and sleep. Therefore, sleeping problems can constitute as both a consequence and cause of mental health issues. Although the intricate reasons are yet to be discovered, the relationship between sleep and mental health can surely not be ignored.
Ways to improve your mental health through sleep
Sleep is imperative for our mental wellbeing. Here are some ways in which you can get better sleep and enhance your mental health:
- Exercise on a regular basis. Engaging in regular exercise can help tremendously with your sleep cycle. It keeps you alert during the day and helps fall asleep faster as you approach your bedtime. Whether it’s yoga, brisk walking, or any form of physical activity you indulge in, it aids in reducing the chances of sleep disorders such as sleep apnoea. Exercising also releases serotonin and dopamine, which elevate your mood and make you feel better. Remember not to exercise too close to your bedtime, though. For example, exercising just four hours before you plan to sleep is not recommended.
- Limit your caffeine intake. Caffeine affects your body clock and makes it difficult for you to fall asleep. Did you know that the effects of caffeine can stay in your body for over six hours? The cappuccino you have in the afternoon could actually disturb your sleep at night. So, it’s best to not only limit your caffeine intake but also consume it during the day or early afternoon, to prevent it from affecting your good night’s sleep. In fact, when you attempt to cut down on caffeine, it can actually affect your mood and energy levels. Therefore, it’s recommended not to let your body become dependent on caffeine in the first place.
- Have a pre-bedtime ritual. A relaxing ritual before your bedtime soothes your mind and helps with your mental health before you drift off to sleep. Taking some time out for yourself an hour or 30 minutes before sleep is a very healthy habit. This ritual could include reading a couple of chapters, meditating, scribbling in your journal, practicing deep breathing exercises, or listening to soft music.
- Do a digital detox. While this digital age has given us many gifts, it has also come with some cons. Too much into social media, for instance, triggers depression and anxiety in many, leading to poor mental health. This is why it’s imperative to do a digital detox before going to bed. Keep your phone away from your bed, so you don’t feel tempted to use it in the middle of the night. Stop scrolling through Facebook and Instagram at least 30 minutes prior to your bedtime. In addition to a social media detox, limiting your phone usage before you sleep is also useful because the blue light from your devices acts as a hindrance to your sleep.
- Regulate your sleep-wake cycle. There is a reason why irregular sleep cycles affect our mood, and it’s because your mind and body love consistency when it comes to sleep. Sleeping and waking up at a particular time gets your body clock accustomed to a schedule, causing you to get better and deeper sleep.
Experiencing mental health issues due to lack of sleep or sleep issues affecting your mental health are both common situations in today’s era. Consulting a medical professional is highly necessary in such cases, but there are also changes you can bring about in your daily life to sleep better and improve your mental health. Follow these steps and allow proper sleep to boost your mental wellbeing.
Dennis Relojo-Howell is the managing director of Psychreg.