It is incredibly common for Americans to be sleep deprived. After all, between juggling responsibilities at work, family obligations, and managing a household, it can be easy to prioritize a million things over sleep. Compounded by common challenges such as financial troubles, health concerns, and relationship problems, you may find sleep rather elusive. However, sleep is an integral part of your overall health. Not getting enough sleep is linked to a variety of health conditions, including heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke. Sleep deprivation doesn’t only affect your physical health; it also impacts your mental health as well.
The Connection Between Sleep and Mental Health
Sleep problems are incredibly common for people with a variety of mental health disorders, including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and ADHD. In the past, sleep problems were considered a symptom of these disorders. However, recent research indicates that sleep problems may actually have more of a causal effect on these mental health issues. Therefore, addressing sleep concerns may be key to helping the symptoms of a comorbid mental disorder. While the exact connection is not completely understood, there is some neurological research that suggests that quality sleep is connected to emotional and mental resilience, and sleep deprivation causes negative thinking. Therefore, it is essential to prioritize a good night’s sleep for the sake of your mental health.
How Sleep Benefits Mental Health
Here are just some of the ways sleep may benefit you mentally:
- Decreased depressive/anxious symptoms. As stated above, sleep deprivation increases negative thinking. A lack of sleep can also heighten feelings of anxiety and stress. When we get enough sleep, we have fewer negative and anxious thoughts.
- Better emotional regulation. Not only does sleeping more decrease the number of depressed or anxious thoughts we have, it enables us to better monitor and address these emotions. If you don’t get enough sleep, it is more difficult for you to regulate your emotions. When you get a good night’s sleep, you are better equipped to handle any emotion that comes your way.
- Improved memory. After a long night without sleep, you may notice that it is harder to recall even basic things. When we get more sleep, our brain stays sharper and finds it easier to remember tasks, facts, and whatever else you have stored in your brain.
- Increased concentration. When you don’t get enough sleep, it is much harder to concentrate. Sleep helps our brains focus on daily tasks, and keeps us more alert.
- Better decision making. There’s a reason why when you have a big decision to make, you are advised to “sleep on it.” When you get enough sleep, it is easier to make smart decisions.
Lifestyle Changes To Help You Sleep
If you have difficulty sleeping, there are certain lifestyle changes you can make to improve your chances of getting a good night’s sleep.
- Cut back on caffeine. It may be obvious to you that caffeine affects your sleep, but many people don’t realize that a cup of coffee at 2 p.m. can have an impact of how you sleep at 10 p.m. If you struggle to get enough sleep, limit yourself to not consuming caffeine after noon, or cut it out entirely.
- Don’t smoke. Nicotine is a stimulant that increases your heart rate and thoughts, making it more difficult to go to sleep. Don’t smoke, and if you do, don’t do so right before bed.
- Limit alcohol. Many people are under the impression that alcohol helps you get to sleep, but while alcohol depresses the nervous system at first, after a few hours, that wears off and it wakes you up. Don’t drink alcohol before bed.
- Get more exercise. Research shows that physical activity helps you sleep quicker and more deeply, so incorporate regular exercise into your routine.
- Maintain a regular sleep schedule. Go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every day. It also helps to establish a bedtime routine to ensure that once you start your routine, your body knows it is time to go to bed, and starts getting tired.
At our men’s health clinic, we can help you establish a sleep routine to ensure better mental health. Contact Men’s Vitality Center in Glendale today for more information.