Sleep is critical to mental health.
The amount and quality of sleep you manage to get each night has a direct effect on your emotional well-being.
When you’re tired, you’re cranky. When you’re rested, you are restored to attack another day. Too many days in the former state can put undue strain on you, attacking your ability to cope with the slings and arrows of life.
“Cranky” isn’t a medical term, but sleep deprived is. Not getting enough sleep can erode your physical and mental health. That is why it is so important to get at least the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
Bad sleep is often a symptom of mental illness.
Both sleeping too little (insomnia) and sleeping too much (hypersomnia) can be symptoms of clinical depression. For example, anywhere from 65 to 90 percent of people with depression experience insomnia.
Sleeping too little could indicate you have anxiety. When you’re anxious, you have trouble sleeping. When you are tired, you may feel sad, hopeless and helpless. When those feelings persist for a long period of time, they turn into a symptom of an underlying problem. On the flip side, sleeping too much could indicate a desire to avoid life and people.
And all of those feelings can weigh you down emotionally and prevent you from doing things that add up to a healthy, productive life.Those are all tell-tale symptoms of depression.
Bad sleep may cause mental illness or make it worse.
When you don’t get enough sleep and you already have a mental illness, or have other risk factors for mental illness, you increase your risk of exacerbating the severity of the illness and for developing others.
The National Sleep Foundation estimates that untreated insomnia can lead to 2 to 10 times the risk of a new onset or recurring episodes of depression, anxiety disorders and substance abuse. Again, not getting enough sleep, erodes your ability to heal both physically and mentally.
Bad sleep hinders your ability to handle life’s struggles.
When you can’t sleep, you’re just not primed for the fight. You’re not at your best to battle primal forces of nature that seek to unhinge you.
Bad sleep or regular disruptions to your sleep cycle also make you more likely to dwell on negative thoughts. Sleeping poorly makes you more vulnerable emotionally. You’re far less likely to cope with bad situations.
When you can’t sleep, the cycle of feeling tired, feeling too weak to fight and then feeling worse than before becomes a hard one to break.
Good sleep refreshes your body & mind.
We feel comfortable harping on the results of sleeping too little, because sleeping enough can powerfully combat negative feelings and physiological symptoms of mental illness.
If you wake up tired, you start the day behind. If you wake up rested, you start the start with physical and emotional resilience. When you’re able to get enough sleep, you give your body and your mind a chance to rest, recharge and repair itself.
The body accomplishes quite a few amazing things when it is at rest. Your heart slows down to rest itself and blood flows more easily to muscles and tissues to repair them. And, a relatively new study from 2017 showed that the brain flushing mechanism—yes, there is such a thing and it flushes brain waste—could be as much as 10 times more active at getting rid of waste than when we’re awake.
Good sleep surrounding also enhance well-being.
We know we need good, restful, consistent sleep to avoid mental health issues. But how does one actually get enough sleep? If you have ever struggled to do that, you know you can’t simply will it to happen.
You must act and prepare deliberately to make it happen, starting with the space in which you sleep.
That’s part of the ancient philosophy behind Feng Shui, a Chinese system of laws which governs how things are arranged in a space to invite positive, favorable and calm feelings into your life. Basically, arranging things you love with elements you need within a particular living space may enhance calm.
From that, we see that living space aesthetics, including inside the bedroom, can have an impact to your mental health.
Sleeping arrangements can help you fall asleep and stay asleep, or they can keep you up. You should, then, carefully consider how to create the best environment—room lighting; bed position relative to heat sources or windows; mattress style, type and size; pillow shape and firmness; pajama style and softness, etc.—in which to snooze.
Invest the time to create a welcoming sleep environment and it will pay you back in deeper, more restorative sleep.
Sleep plays a vital role in how a person maintains good mental health, both enhancing it when we get enough, and endangering it when we don’t.
It is important to understand why sleep has such a strong connection to mental health in order to find ways to sleep longer and more deeply. Americans, by and large, don’t get enough sleep. We need to be aware of that to stand any chance of getting better at it.