How Sleep Impacts your Mental Health

Young woman holding head in hands, suffering from poor mental health
We all know how important sleep is for our physical health, but many people don’t realize how sleep affects mental health. Getting enough sleep is vital for your brain health. Scott Fitzgerald had it right when he said, “the worst thing in the world is to try to sleep and not to.” 


The Mental Health-Sleep Connection

As you sleep, you go through four different stages. While many people focus on REM sleep, the other stages of sleep are part of the cycle. During the first three stages of sleep, your body slows down and relaxes. In Stage 4, when REM sleep occurs, you dream.  Stage 3 and 4 are the deepest stages of sleep, when cells heal themselves, your body releases hormones that boost muscle and bone growth, and your immune system is strengthened.  Your brain uses this time to put information into memory. When you don’t get enough deep sleep, it can make it difficult for you to be creative and to solve problems. You can become irritable. A lack of sleep makes it difficult to control your emotions.


Chronic Sleep Problems

According to Harvard Health Publishing, chronic sleep problems impact up to 18% of Americans. If you have depression, bipolar disorder, or ADHD, you’re even more likely to have sleep problems. Sleep and mental health are directly related to each other. Sleep deprivation makes mental health issues even worse. Mental health problems can make it more difficult to sleep. Once your body isn’t getting enough sleep, your mental health issues can seem even worse.


Why Don’t We Sleep?

Interrupted sleep can occur for many reasons. As you get older, you may find that you wake up more often in the night. Many people deal with chronic pain or mental health problems, such as anxiety. Sleep disorders are a common problem. Sleep apnea can even affect teenagers and children, when their jaws aren’t fully developed. Your lifestyle can even impact your sleep schedule, such as too much caffeine or alcohol, smoking, or a lack of exercise.


Sleep Hygiene Tips

The CDC recommends these habits to get a good night’s sleep.

  • Keep to a sleep routine, even on the weekends.
  • Create a quiet, dark, and relaxing atmosphere in your bedroom.
  • Remove electronic devices from your bedroom. Put down your devices about 30 minutes before bed.
  • Avoid large meals, caffeine, and alcohol before bedtime.
  • Exercise daily. Physical activity can help your body fall asleep.
If you still have problems feeling fully rested after changing your habits, you may have sleep disordered breathing. Colorado Springs sleep doctors can help you find solutions so you can wake up refreshed and ready to face the day. Contact our office to learn more about breathing and sleep disorders that might be keeping you from getting enough sleep.

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