Mental Health. Sleep. Repeat.
The relationship between sleep and mental health is complex, but here are four tips to better manage your sleep.
There is a lot of talk about mental health these days, and one aspect we find fascinating is the close relationship between sleep and mental health.
Sleep deprivation affects your psychological state and mental health. And those with mental health problems are more likely to suffer from sleep disorders.
The relationship between sleep and mental health is not yet completely understood. But studies in both adults and children suggest that sleep problems may raise the risk for, and even directly contribute to, the development of some mental health illnesses.
A good night’s sleep helps nurture both mental and emotional resilience. While chronic sleep deprivation can foster negative thinking, emotional vulnerability and unhealthy food habits (like craving carbs).
To have a better sleep here are a few essential lifestyle and behavioural strategies you can adopt recommended by Harvard Medical School:
Lifestyle changes. Caffeine contributes to sleeplessness, but so can alcohol and nicotine. Alcohol initially depresses the nervous system that helps some people fall asleep, but the effects wear off in a few hours and people wake up. Nicotine is a stimulant, which speeds heart rate and thinking. Giving up these substances is best, but avoiding them before bedtime is also a good option.
Physical activity. Having regular physical activity helps people fall asleep faster, spend more time in deep sleep, and awaken less often during the night. So a nice walk before going to bed or regular workouts throughout the week (not before bedtime though) can help.
Sleep hygiene. Good “sleep hygiene” refers to tips like maintaining a regular sleep-and-wake schedule, using the bedroom only for sleeping or sex, and keeping the bedroom dark and free of distractions like tablets, mobile phones or TV. But having a light book to read before bedtime on your bedside table could probably help you fall asleep faster.
Relaxation techniques. Meditation, deep breathing exercises and progressive muscle relaxation (alternately tensing and releasing muscles) can counter anxiety and racing thoughts.
Look for ways to improve your sleep that you can influence. You might not be able to manage others behaviour (your partner, children or work colleagues), but you can manage your so you can have a better sleep. And that can go a long way.