By: Dr. Andrew I. J. Allshouse, N.D. –Revibe Men’s Health –Seattle
A good night’s sleep—some of us have it easy, and for others, not so much. We always hear that getting sleep is crucial to well-being, so let’s uncover the benefits of getting enough sleep and share solutions for those who struggle to fall asleep and stay asleep. As it turns out, your mental health is dependent on sleep. Your mental state has been shown to affect how you sleep and vice versa. Poor sleep has been linked to depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and other conditions. 1 What’s more, chronic sleep problems affect 50% to 80% of patients in a typical psychiatric practice, compared with 10% to 18% of adults in the general US population. The CDC recommends 7 or more hours of sleep a night for adults aged between 18-60. 2 If that’s easier said than done, you may see an impact on your physical health, as well. For instance, without enough sleep, the more at risk you are for chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
There are plenty of factors that can impact your sleep. While some are complex and out of your control, there are some that you can control! Here are some tips that can improve your sleep:
All of us have an internal clock that helps our bodies identify when it is time to rest. Going to bed at the same time every night can help your internal clock function better.
Prepare your Sleeping Environment
A good sleeping environment can help you fall asleep and stay asleep. You should be in a quiet, dark room. You should feel relaxed, so make sure that the room is at a comfortable temperature and your electronics are out of sight(more on that below!)
Ditch the Electronics
The bright screen in a dark room, especially the blue light, can prevent your brain from recognizing that it is time to sleep. Ditch the bright screen for a book and a soothing reading light.
Avoid large meals before bed. Your body will have to work hard to digest a meal while you are laying down, so avoid that midnight craving along with caffeine and alcohol.
Exercising during the day, or simply being physically active, can help you feel more tired and fall asleep easier at night.
The relationship between your mental health and sleep is complex and should not be taken lightly. It’s important to practice good sleep habits, but if your sleep problems continue or if they interfere with how you feel or function during the day, you should talk to your doctor. Before visiting your doctor, keep a diary of your sleep habits for about ten days to discuss at the visit.
If you’re thinking about suicide, are worried about a friend or loved one, or would like emotional support, the Suicide Prevention Lifeline network is free, confidential, and available 24/7 across the United States. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number is 1-800-273-8255.
*This blog marks the last of three in a series of articles related to mental health.