For those who suffer from anxiety, depression, or an addiction, it is clear that the impact that these issues have on one’s physical and mental well-being can be devastating.
From an inability to focus during the day to a lack of passion for life’s special moments, mental health problems can rob you of living a thriving and fruitful life. One major aspect that can impact the severity of your mental health symptoms is how well you sleep. While it is well-known that getting plenty of sleep is the key to a successful life, many who suffer from mental illness find that they are unable to receive adequate rest due to the disruptions their mental state causes.
In this article, we will take a closer look at the impact that sleep has on our mental health and the steps you can start taking right now to ensure that deep, restful sleep becomes an aid in your recovery.
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We Aren’t Getting Enough Sleep
Unless you are a child who seems to have boundless energy regardless of their hours of shut-eye, you probably know the power that good, deep sleep has on your life.
Quality sleep is essential for our physical and mental health. According to the CDC, adults ranging in age from 18-60 require at least 7 hours of sleep each night to function at their mental and physical best. On either side of that age range, individuals may find that they need more or less sleep to enjoy their days.
The High Cost Of Not Getting A Good Night’s Sleep
What are the impacts of not getting the right amount of sleep at night? It may be worse than you expect. Here is a short list of the ways that not getting enough sleep may be interfering with your daily life:
- Irritability & Increased Anger
- Inability To Focus On Tasks
- Less Overall Happiness
- Poor Memory And Concentration
- Increased Negative Thoughts or Obsessions
- Decreased Motivation To Get Things Done
Not getting the right amount of sleep can also be detrimental to your physical health, with symptoms such as::
- Weight gain
- Loss of muscle strength and flexibility
- Increased chances of obesity and heart disease
- Difficulty staying awake when driving or operating machinery
When combined, the impacts that little sleep can have on your mental and physical state can be devastating to your overall health. This is why so many who suffer from mental health issues find that they are unable to get good sleep, while the lack of sleep makes their experience continually worse.
Fortunately, there are some practical steps that you can take to begin today that will help you rebalance your body and mind through better sleep.
The Mind-Body Connection & Sleep
It should come as no surprise that how you feel physically impacts your mental state and vice-a-versa. Many find that stress impairs their ability to sleep, which in turn worsens the stress response for those who suffer from mental illness or acute anxiety.
This can create a vicious cycle where you’re constantly struggling to find a way to fall asleep and stay asleep, but your mind continues to drive stressful thoughts that keep you wide awake. As you fail to get enough sleep, your stress continues to skyrocket, and your mental health will spiral further down.
The more you can begin to take steps to break this cycle, the better off you’ll be. You may even begin to find that many of your mental health impacts on your daily life begin to lift or fade away as your overall health improves.
The Steps You Can Take Right Now To Help Get Better Sleep
Those who suffer from mental health problems can often experience many benefits from getting adequate sleep at night. However, many experience insomnia or have a hard time “shutting their brain off” enough to fall into sleep – allowing anxiety or depression to keep them tossing and turning all night.
While some of the elements that prevent you from getting good sleep need the help of a skilled counselor to unpack, there are some steps you can take right now to increase your chances of falling asleep faster and enjoying deeper, more restorative sleep.
Learn About Your Circadian Rhythm
Did you know that your body has a natural clock that drives your day? It’s called your Circadian Rhythm, and it is your body’s natural way of ensuring that it gets the adequate sleep it needs each day.
Your circadian rhythm is a natural biological clock that helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle and controls when you feel sleepy or awake. It runs on an approximately 24-hour schedule but can vary in each person based on their unique biology.
If you ignore your body’s circadian rhythm, it will begin to adapt to your new schedule. This means that it may become even harder for you to fall asleep earlier and stay asleep longer once you decide to get better with your sleep habits.
For those who struggle to fall asleep, learning more about their circadian rhythm can help them take the necessary steps throughout the day to help their body naturally respond to the sun’s rising and falling.
Build A Consistent Exercise Routine
Another easy way to help your circadian rhythm regulate is by building a consistent exercise routine each day. Regular exercise is a great way to get your blood flowing and feel more awake after a long day – and help you wind down at night.
Whether it’s a sunset walk with your pet or a run before work, regular exercise will help regulate your circadian rhythm and increase your body’s natural response to feeling tired.
The more you sweat during the day, the harder you will find you sleep at night! Just 20-30 minutes will do wonders for helping reset your Circadian Rhythm, making it easier to fall asleep when your head hits the pillow.
Create The Right Sleeping Environment
Just as important as exercise is making sure your bedroom has the perfect environment for sleep. Did you know that the ideal temperature for sleep should be somewhere around 60 degrees Fahrenheit with no visible light?
That’s right – it may be time to invest in some blackout curtains that will keep out the disruptive light that can impact your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Finally, make sure that you can sleep in peace. A noisy room or one with a bed partner who snores will keep you from getting the good night’s rest your body and mind need to thrive.
Avoid Blue Light Exposure In The Late Afternoon & Evening
If you’ve done any research on what keeps you from getting good sleep, you’ve probably seen one main culprit: blue light. Blue light is found all around us – from the screens of our smartphones, tablets, and computers to the televisions in our living rooms.
The problem with blue light is that it suppresses melatonin production while boosting cortisol levels (a hormone that tells your body to enter into a state of alertness), making you feel wired when you really need to fall asleep.
If you want to avoid blue light exposure, create a routine that turns off any tempting device a few hours before bed so that you don’t pick it up and impact your ability to fall asleep. Investing in a pair of blue light-reducing glasses can also help if you really need to use a device before you hit the sack.
Put Your Phone Down
Not only does your phone emit blue light that can impact your melatonin production, but finding yourself falling into a stressful online rabbit hole can keep you from falling asleep successfully.
Take a break from your phone before bed and put it in another room so you can focus on relaxing. Remember, whatever happens in the hour before bed will still be there for your attention in the morning!
Watch What You Eat (And Drink!)
If you find yourself struggling to fall asleep, it might be time to start keeping a food journal and some research about your diet. Many people choose to consume unhealthy and heavy food throughout the day, impacting one’s ability to sleep well at night. Eating right before bed is also a big no-no, as this can really impact your body’s ability to reach a state that encourages uninterrupted, deep sleep.
While you are it, don’t try to consume a lot of liquid right before bed either. Waking up in the night to go to the restroom can prevent you from entering REM sleep – the most restorative and healthy sleep you can get.
Create A Bedtime Routine
One of the most important ways to start getting better sleep is by giving yourself a bedtime routine. A bedtime routine can be different for every individual and can include many activities such as reading a book, journaling about daily gratitude, some light stretching, and more!
The point of the bedtime routine is not what you do but rather that you do it consistently. A consistent bedtime routine can help your body know that it’s time for sleep and give it cues to prepare itself for REM rest.
Implement Daily Mindfulness Practices
Mindfulness practices can help you be more aware of your thoughts and emotions while also helping to reduce distressing feelings. Mindfulness exercises are easy for anyone: they only require a few minutes per day!
One great way to practice mindfulness is with a session called Body Scanning. In Body Scanning, you lie down or sit in a comfortable position with your eyes closed. From there, you focus on and notice different sensations in your body. You can start by feeling the sensation of air against your skin or noticing how your belly moves as you breathe. Go from head to toe, and watch as you begin to calm down and grow drowsy.
With practice, these mindfulness exercises will help to ground yourself so that when stressful feelings come up, they’ll be easier for you to manage. You will also find that your breathing becomes regular, and your mind will begin to drift off to sleep much faster.
The Benefits Of A Good Night’s Sleep
Once you start to implement some of the above practices, you will find that your sleep comes more easily, and you stay asleep longer. As you start to reduce your sleep debt and wake up refreshed, a whole host of benefits can follow:
- Reduced stress levels and anxious thoughts
- Improved memory retention and acuity
- Higher levels of self-esteem
- Increased creativity and passion
- A more positive outlook on your daily life and future
- Decreased symptoms of depression and anxiety
- Better physical health and weight loss
The results of getting the right amount of sleep are so astounding, it can seem like one of the best-kept secrets in health and fitness. There really is no better way to get healthy while you lay still!
Getting Started Down The Path To Good Sleep With Novus Mindful Life
While the tips and insights in this article can help you get a better night’s rest, some individuals find that they need professional help to break through the barriers that keep them from resting.
At Novus Mindful Life, we work with individuals every day who suffer from the impacts of mental health issues on their sleep. The good news is that there is hope for those who struggle to get enough sleep due to their suffering.
Our team of counselors can work with you to help overcome any challenges that may be keeping you from getting the sleep your body needs. With one-on-one counseling and therapy sessions, we will break down the various factors contributing to poor sleep habits in a safe and caring environment.
Want to learn more? Contact us today to talk to a team member about how to get started down the path to hope and healing with proven methods and techniques. At Novus Mindful Life, we are here to walk with you every step of the way in your journey to better health.
Do you know someone in your life who has a sleep disorder? Share this blog post with them!
Does talking to someone about your mental health issues make you uncomfortable? You’re not alone, and it’s important that we talk openly and transparently about any difficult issues you may be having. Contact Novus Mindful Life today to learn more about setting up a safe and confidential conversation.