Mental health is just as important as physical health, and the two are inextricably intertwined. One of the aspects of physical health that most impacts mental health is sleep. If you don’t sleep well or for long enough, your mood will suffer. Mental illnesses can also trigger insomnia. Sleep and mental health are so connected that it is essential to address both for overall good health.
Sleep is necessary to help the mind and body function. We cannot survive long without it, so what does sleep do? The hours spent asleep give the body and brain time to rest and repair.
The brain needs sleep to maintain and upkeep cognitive skills like memory, learning, and attention. Sleep helps the brain regulate emotions and perceive the world more accurately. The brain simply won’t operate as effectively without enough sleep. This impacts not only the ability to think and learn but also moods and mental health.
If you have ever felt moody and irrational after too little sleep, there is a good reason for it. An important part of the brain for mood and emotional regulation is the amygdala. Sleep gives the amygdala a chance to recharge and process emotions. Without this, you may experience more intense emotions and extreme reactions that present as moodiness.
Even just a little bit of sleep deprivation can impact your mood significantly. When your mood suffers, do other things around you, like relationships, work, chores, and other activities. Poor sleep and resulting mood swings decrease quality of life, which negatively affects mental health.
Hormones also impact mood, as well as appetite, weight, immune function, and more. Disrupted sleep can disrupt hormones. This happens because lack of sleep affects how certain hormone-producing glands function. Much of the messaging of hormones occurs during sleep, so lack of sleep disrupts the normal process.
The issue of hormones and sleep becomes more complicated because of the cyclical relationship between the two. With insufficient sleep, levels of important neurotransmitters in the brain, such as serotonin and melatonin, decrease. This, in turn, makes it more challenging to get a good night’s sleep.
Too little sleep tends to result in an overproduction of cortisol, or the stress hormone. Excess cortisol stresses the body and mind, making it even more difficult to relax or get to sleep. This is another way in which sleep and hormonal imbalances come together in a damaging, cyclical pattern.
Mental Disorders and Sleep
Mood swings and poor cognitive function are mental health symptoms impacted by lack of sleep. Having these issues does not necessarily mean you have a mental illness or disorder. However, poor sleep can trigger or worsen mental conditions. Mental illness can also cause or worsen insomnia.
Many serious mental health conditions, including anxiety disorders and depression, have been associated with inadequate sleep or insomnia. Difficulty sleeping can be an early warning sign of depression. Researchers have also found that a significant proportion of people with insomnia will eventually develop depression or other anxiety disorders.
Improve Sleep, Improve the Mind
While the connection between sleep and mental health is serious and potentially problematic, there are solutions. If you can focus on better sleep and getting enough hours of sleep, you can significantly improve your mental health, moods, and cognitive function. This can help you accomplish more throughout your day.
One important way to improve your sleep patterns is to create a comfortable, relaxing bedroom environment. Many people suffer a poor night’s sleep simply because they’re using an old or uncomfortable mattress. Like a 10-inch mattress with pressure relief and cooling technology, something supportive can make it easier to fall and stay asleep through the entire night.
Also essential to good sleep is to create a relaxing and consistent routine. Set a reasonable time to go to sleep, wake up, and stick with it every day, even on weekends. Eventually, your body will get used to this schedule, and falling asleep will become more automatic. Create a self-care routine that prepares your mind for sleep. This could include a pre-bed meditation or 30 minutes of reading, for instance.
Prioritize Sleep to Improve Mental Health
Mental health has too long been overlooked as an essential component of overall health. This is changing, though, and it is increasingly important to address how sleep impacts moods and mental disorders. You can only live your life fully if you feel good mentally and physically, which means prioritizing sleep.
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