One of the MOST overlooked mental health habits...

...is getting enough sleep at night.

Skimping on your Zzzz’s can leave you feeling emotionally vulnerable and opens the door to negative thinking. Insomnia messes with our brain, making it difficult for us to regulate our emotions and think clearly. A good night’s rest on the other hand, builds emotional and mental resilience.

Clinicians now view sleep deprivation as a factor leading to poor mental health, rather than just a symptom of it. Not getting enough sleep can put you at risk for things like anxiety and depression (1) - two mental health concerns that are on the rise.  

The effects of inadequate sleep can be felt by all ages – children, the middle-aged, seniors, etc. According to the American Journal Pediatrics, “Adolescents who get less sleep than they need are at higher risk for depression, suicide, substance abuse and car crashes. Evidence also links short sleep duration with obesity and a weakened immune system." (2)

Other ways sleep affects our well-being are (3):

With this research in mind, here are a couple of ways you can protect your sleep and get a good night’s rest:

  • Establish a “tech curfew”. Turn off all electronic devices and avoid looking at any light-emitting devices (e.g. TVs, iPads, cell phones) 1 hour before bedtime.
  • Be consistent. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day…yes, even on weekends. This way your body will know what to expect and get into a routine of falling asleep at night.
  • Create your own bedtime ritual. A bedtime ritual is like a warm-up – it is preparing you, your mind, and body for going to sleep. It is something you do every night and includes activities like: brushing your teeth, pulling out clothes and/or your bag for the next day, meditating, listening to calming music, not eating, reading a relaxing book, etc.

With these tips in hand, you can improve the quantity and quality of your sleep at night.

Take your sleep seriously. Your mental health depends on it.

 

References:

  1. https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/sleep-and-mental-health. Pulled 2/26/19.
  2. Karen Wintraub, “Young and Sleep Deprived,” Monitor on Psychology 47, no. 2 (2016): 46 citing Katherine M. Keyes et al., “The Great Sleep Recession: Changes in Sleep Duration Among US Adolescents, 1991-2012,” Pediatrics 135, no. 3 (2015): 460-68.
  3. Source: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/healthy-sleep/health-risks/the-effects-of-sleep-deprivation. Pulled 2/26/19.

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