Sleep is restorative, increases happiness and performance, and most of all, it’s free – yet over 70 million Americans suffer from a sleep disorder. Most of these sleep problems are caused by stress and poor mental health. The ironic part of it all is that good, quality sleep is a powerful antidote to these problems.
1 in 3 people don’t get enough sleep, this NPR article explains. As the stress of technology and the pressures of productivity rise, so does this number. On the contrary, thinking that less sleep means you’ll have more time to be productive is a flawed idea.
Just one night of bad sleep won’t kill you, but it can increase anxiety and affect your mood. If you have a busy schedule, one night can easily turn into a week, and so on. This is how poor sleep habits are developed.
Poor sleep habits compound over time and pose a significant risk to your mental and physical health. The longer these problems get ignored, the harder the recovery process becomes.
If you want to maintain a busy schedule, sleep should be a vital part of your life. Everything starts and ends with how well you sleep. Below are just a few ways bad sleep can affect your life:
On the other hand, good sleep provides all kinds of health benefits. If you prioritize your sleep, these are just a few ways that your life will improve:
Anxiety and depression play a role in the quality of your sleep. If you already struggle with your mental health, then sleep is probably something you already battle with.
Tossing, turning, and struggling to turn your mind off is frustrating. It can begin to feel hopeless, especially if it lasts for weeks or months.
Don’t panic, though. While changing your sleep habits can be a challenge, there are simple strategies you can implement to improve your sleep. It would be a lie to say that changing habits is easy, but persistence is key here.
Let’s explore a few ways you can get better sleep at night.
Do you start imagining all the things you need to do the next day right before you go to sleep? If you’re particularly busy, this mental preparation you do before bed can be stressing and turn into a mental spiral, keeping you tense and awake throughout the night.
Making a to-do list is a simple and effective way to unload your mind. A to-do list also gives you a chance to have a positive start at the beginning of the next day. Next time you’re panicking before bed, write out your plans so you can focus on your sleep.
If you’re someone who’s anxious, there’s a good chance you naturally hold more tension in your body. Holding onto tension makes it harder to fall asleep at night and even harder to stay asleep. Stretching or doing a body-scanning exercise are both ways to release tension and help your body relax into a deeper sleep.
Is scrolling before bed your guilty pleasure? You wouldn’t be the only one. Bedtime and the addictive aspect of social media is a powerful combination. As powerful as it may be, habits like these play a significant role in the quality of your sleep.
Breaking these habits aren’t easy, but they can be beat with a solid nighttime routine and persistence. Try trading a bad habit for a healthy one that sounds enjoyable to you. Instead of:
Try these instead:
Unfortunately, sleep is undervalued and overlooked as the key pillar of health that it is, and we should strive to do better. Making your sleep schedule a priority is the is one of the most important factors to getting quality sleep.
Treat your sleep schedule the same way you would treat an appointment or meeting. Create a bedtime routine that you look forward to, so you’re more likely to do it. Make your bedroom a cozy and inviting place to be. Make your sleep an important part of your life – because it is.
Poor sleep and mental health go hand in hand. Chronic sleep problems shouldn’t be ignored and often need the help of a professional. If you’re suffering from this cycle of mental health and sleep deprivation, don’t delay getting support. As a mental health provider, we can help you address the underlying problems that are affecting your sleep.
Here at Dr. Messina and Associates, our compassionate team of professionals are qualified to help you at our Flower Mound, Texas, and Southlake, Texas, offices. Our Psychologists, Psychiatrists, and Counselors specialize in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), psychological testing, and medication management for a variety of emotional and behavioral health needs. All services are available in-person and online (telehealth). If you or a loved one are seeking help with mental health, we are here to help.