Mental Health Awareness: The Importance of Sleep

Mental Health Awareness: The Importance of Sleep

Mental health problems affect all of our lives, and with one in four of us diagnosed with a mental health problem, it's one of the most widespread issues facing the world today.

In honour of Mental Health Awareness Week, we're looking at how sleep can be one of the factors influencing the quality of your mental health and a couple of tips to help.

The Importance of Sleep for Mental Health

Mental Health Awareness Week was created to increase awareness and start a conversation about our mental health. One of those things can be sleep.

By simply discussing mental health, we can help those who are afraid to discuss their own and bring more information to those needing it.

Sleep is something that may not always be at the top of the list when trying to improve your mental health.

Sleep is incredibly important for your well-being, as it gives our bodies time to recover from the day and heal. When we don't get enough rest, it can have far-reaching consequences, including the development of mental health conditions.

When you aren't getting enough sleep, it can lead to a disrupted cycle, where a lack of sleep can be both a cause and a sign of a mental health problem.

If you suffer from some problems already, it can sometimes affect the quality of your rest. At the same time, a lack of sleep can leave you feeling exhausted and more prone to developing a mental health problem.

Some of the most common ways that sleep can affect your mental health, and vice versa, include:

  • Anxiety and stress: Where you can't get to sleep because of thoughts racing through your mind or worrying about what is happening in your life.
  • Depression: If you suffer from depression, the mornings and getting out of bed may be difficult and you may find yourself oversleeping or staying up too late.
  • Insomnia: A condition where you can't get to sleep easily, which can fuel other mental health problems, as well as exhaustion through the day (see our Sleep Guru interview for tips to deal with insomnia).

How to Deal with Sleep Problems Affecting Your Mental Health?

Sleep is so important to your well-being that, if you feel you aren't getting enough, you should look to address the issue immediately. We can suggest a few things you can do to help improve your rest, and it's well worth giving them a try to reclaim your Zzzs. Let's take a closer look at some of the most effective methods:

Stick to a routine

Our brains like a routine, and you can establish a healthier sleeping pattern by going to sleep and waking at the same time. Choose a time to get up and stick to it no matter what, then go to bed only when you begin to feel tired. This small bit of structure can help you build up to a healthy night's rest, even if you don't feel like you're able to get much to begin with.

Learn to Unwind Before Hitting the Hay

It helps to go to bed in a relaxed state, and there are a few ways that you can put your body at ease, including having a bath, practising some breathing exercises, reading and listening to music. A great way to unwind is by performing progressive relaxation, where you contract and relax each part of your body. The NHS has a helpful guide to this method that can help you out.

Girl meditating on a bed

Create a Comfortable Environment

For most people, a dark, cool, and quiet environment is ideal for nodding off, so this is what you should aim for in your bedroom. This might mean investing in a sleep mask or heavier curtains, as well as turning the thermostat down a degree or two, but it's worth it for a good night's sleep.

You can also ensure your bed and bedding is to your liking, and a quality memory foam mattress can certainly help in this regard.

Avoid Bright Screens

Research, including a study from Harvard University, shows that the blue light from our screens can disrupt our body's natural rhythm. Looking at screens before bed can make it harder to fall asleep.

With this in mind, it's best to keep your bedroom a tech-free zone for improved sleep.

If you must have some kind of screen on when in bed, use the gadget's "night mode" which turns off the blue light emitted. Or there are glasses specially designed to block out the blue light from screens.

What Are the Next Steps?

If you've put some of our tips into practice and you still can't get enough sleep to improve your mental health, don't worry as there are other solutions.

For example, a recent study by the University of Oxford found a direct link between sleep and mental health and found that cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) was able to improve the participants' sleep patterns and lessen the effects of their conditions.

CBT is just one of the options open to you to improve your sleep and mental health, and there are many organisations out there who can provide advice and further tips:

  • Mind: A mental health charity that can provide support and advice through difficult times.
  • Samaritans: A charity that is always willing to listen to your problems and give advice.
  • The Mental Health Foundation: An organisation that always has useful info and advice about mental health conditions that can affect sleep.
  • NHS: A source of essential information and the first place you should go if you need additional help with your situation. They can provide therapy, medication, and more.

We hope you've found the information and advice in this blog post useful. If you are interested in improving the quality of your sleep with a new mattress or bedding, don't hesitate to get in touch. Keep an eye on our blog and our guides centre for more useful sleep-related tips.

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