Sleep is vital for maintaining good physical and mental health as it enables both body and mind to relax, rest, and heal.
Without sleep, the person may struggle with poor information processing, mood swings, and a faster heartbeat. Overall, it can wreak havoc on physical and mental well-being.
Sleep and mental health
Many Australians have trouble with their sleeping patterns even before the COVID-19 health crisis. Unfortunately, it only worsens when the pandemic brings isolation, keeping us from spending time with friends, families, and colleagues and sending shock waves to the economy.
In general, a normal adult need between seven to nine hours of sleep to function at their best. About one in 10 people in Australia have at least mild insomnia at some point in their lives.
Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that can make it difficult for a person to fall or stay asleep.
Chronic insomnia and sleep deprivation are known to adversely affect physical well-being and mental health.
Studies found that sleep is linked to a person’s mental and emotional health. It has a close connection with other mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and other conditions.
The evidence to date points out that sleep and mental health have a bidirectional relationship. The former can make it harder to sleep well, and at the same time, the latter can be a contributing factor that develops or worsens mental health problems.
Both sleep and mental illness are complex issues brought about by a multitude of factors. However, there is strong evidence proving that having healthy sleeping patterns can benefit mental health. It can also be a component of treating various psychological disorders.
Therefore, it is important to make efforts to improve or maintain good sleeping habits.
Negative Effects of Lack of Sleep
Chronic sleep deprivation can result in behavioural and physical ill-health in many possible ways.
Behavioural or mood symptoms may include anxiety, extreme irritability, erratic behaviour, low mood, psychotic episodes, and poor cognitive function and performance.
While the physical symptoms of poor sleeping patterns may include tiredness, elevation in high blood pressure, increase risk of stroke and heart attack, and a rise in stress hormones.
7 Ways to Improve Sleeping Habits
Create a healthy sleep environment
Create an oasis that feels cosy and comfortable with good pillows and beddings. Keep the bedroom cool and dark as possible.
Establish a bedtime routine
Maintain a consistent sleep schedule, even on the weekends. Set a bedtime that will get you seven to eight hours of sleep.
Do some exercise.
Studies show that engaging in regular exercise is linked with good sleep quality.
Limit the use of stimulants
Avoid consuming stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol near the set bedtime schedule.
Avoid electronic devices at night.
The bright light from electronic devices (computers, mobile phones, tablets, etc.) can be overly stimulating and keep you awake. Avoid using gadgets near bedtime.
Employ relaxation techniques.
Try different relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and body mindfulness to help decrease anxiety and keep you calm.
Talk to the doctor about medication and other remedies.
For people suffering from insomnia, it is best to consult a health care provider that can provide medications and other remedies.
Most doctors do not generally recommend taking medications for more than a few weeks for chronic insomnia. However, there are instances where medicines are needed and approved for long-term use.
Sleeping disorders can contribute to or exacerbate mental health problems and vice versa.
Addressing mental conditions through mental health first aid can resolve sleep deprivation and insomnia problems.
It is best for people struggling with falling or staying asleep to talk to a healthcare professional about treatment options. From there, they can come up with a diagnosis and recommend treatment that will address any underlying sleep disturbance.
Treating sleeping disorders is important for protecting both physical and mental well-being. Enrol in a Mental Health First Aid today to learn about early intervention and treatment.