What To Know About Sleep And Mental Health
It is no secret that sleep and health have both direct and indirect effects on one another.
Sleep health, be it good or bad, can lead to measurable changes within the general wellbeing of an individual. It is for this very reason why disorders such as insomnia can wreak havoc on those who suffer from them. Recent research has shown that a lack of quality sleep can devastate the mental health of an otherwise healthy individual. Sleep and mental health go hand in hand, with one often leading to issues with the other. These two concepts push and pull. They can often rely heavily on one another and when there is a problem with one, you will see a resulting problem within the other.
But how does sleep and mental health relate to one another? How does our sleep health, so to speak, affect our overall health?
In this article, we will discuss some of the key health benefits of sleep, and what sleep really does for our bodies. What does having a sound sleep health do for us from a physical and mental standpoint? How do sleep and mental health truly correlate? All of these questions will be answered.
But before we can go over sleep health benefits, it is crucial that we first define what sleep health really looks like.
Sound Sleep Health: What Is It?
The relationship between sleep and health has been studied for generations. It is common knowledge that regular sleep is necessary in order to lead a happy and healthy life.
But what is sleep health? What does sleep health truly look like?
The common belief is that people need an average of eight hours of sleep a night in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle. For some individuals, however, the amount of sleep needed to maintain a healthy life could be ten hours or more! This can vary from person to person and relies on such factors as age, lifestyle choices, level of activity, and the general health and wellbeing of said individual. It is for this reason that sound sleep health is defined based on the circumstances of the individual. One thing is for certain, however: There is no substitute for sleep. No amount of sugar or caffeine is going to replace your body’s need to get real, genuine shuteye. Unfortunately, with a world in which time is of the essence and people live lives packed full of work, chores, hobbies, events, and other activities, it is often sleep that we choose to cut out of our busy schedule in hopes of getting more done with our time.
But it isn’t only our sleep that takes the backseat to our schedules. Our health can also be put on the backburner in place of something that we perceive to be more important. Yes, when our sound sleep health is given up, we are also choosing to give up our physical and mental health. The health benefits of sleep are numerous, and a lack of sleep can lead to several extreme issues.
Let’s go over a few of the many health benefits of sleep:
Health Benefits of Sleep
As previously stated, sound sleep health is a crucial part of our overall health.
But what are some of the specific relations between sleep and health?
Here are a few of the most common health benefits of sleep:
- Boosts Immune System. Research has indicated a direct correlation between the susceptibility for an individual to get sick and the amount of sleep that they get. It is believed that a lack of sleep can increase the chance of your body developing an illness after being exposed to it. It is also believed that a lack of sleep can also determine the length of time that one will feel under the weather when sick. Those who have a quality and regular sleep schedule will generally get sick less, and for a shorter length of time than others.
- Better Focus. Someone who is well rested will be able to focus much better than someone who is sleep deprived. Exhaustion can make focusing on even the simplest of tasks nearly impossible. Students who have healthier sleep schedules, for example, tend to perform better than those who do not. Sleep provides us with the energy necessary to focus and take part in life. Without regular sleep, individuals can have a hard time focusing or even staying awake. This can, of course, lead to not only frustration, but poor decision making and critical thinking.
- Improves Your Mood. A healthy sleep schedule can improve your general mood, as a lack of sleep can often lead to feelings of anxiety, stress, frustration, and general irritability. Sleeping regularly allows you to better manage your emotions and general feeling, as well as allowing your brain to actively work on existing problems that may have arisen while you rest. Getting adequate sleep can also allow you to take some time off from dwelling on problems or circumstances, which can in fact lead to a better overall mood during the day.
- Prevents Weight Gain. Believe it or not, sleeping regularly can help to maintain your current weight. When you are sleep deprived, your body produces a hormone called ghrelin, which stimulates appetite and can lead to overeating. Sleep deprivation can also lower the levels of leptin, which is a hormone that helps to let the body know when we are full. This combination can lead to extreme weight gain in some cases. Sleeping regularly won’t force you to lose weight, but not sleeping may cause you to gain it!
These four health benefits of sleep all bring us to the main focus of this article: sleep and mental health.
Your sleep health can have drastic effects on your mental health. But it is important to know just how sleep affects mental health. Sleep deprivation can wreak havoc on your overall mental state and mood. Anger, anxiety, and irritability are not at all uncommon emotions that one can experience when suffering from sleep deprivation. Those who have suffered from such disorders as insomnia may find that even the most insignificant setbacks can lead to them feeling flustered. This inability to regulate emotions can cause sufferers to feel depressed over time. Some researchers have suggested that insomnia and depression can have a correlative relationship with one another, each sort of feeding off of one another. Sleep deprivation can lead to depression, which, in turn, can lead to further troubles with falling asleep and staying asleep. Yet another mode of how sleep affects mental health would be the ensuing anxiety that can result from disorders like insomnia. Like the relationship with depression and sleep deprivation, it appears that anxiety and sleep deprivation push and pull one another. An individual suffering from anxiety may stay up all night worrying. On the other end, someone suffering from sleep deprivation may feel anxious about the lack of sleep and other resulting issues. The sleep mental health relationship is tight knit, and symbiotic.
On the contrary, however, sound sleep health can have a profoundly positive effect on the mood and general mental state of an individual as well. Getting sick less often and for a shorter length of time can in turn allow an individual to not have to deal with the feeling of being ill, missing work, and staying in bed all day. When factoring in the fact that less sleep can lead to weight gain, this can also prove to be mentally taxing on an individual that is needing sleep and gaining weight because of it. And, as previously stated, an inability to stay focused can lead to a plethora of mental issues.
So what are some natural sleep health solutions?
- CBD has shown great promise in allowing individuals to relax enough to not only fall asleep, but stay asleep. This non psychoactive cannabinoid has been heralded by many for its ability to quell anxious thoughts and racing minds, two common issues that can lead to sleep deprivation. It can also help to alleviate aches and pains that can prevent one from getting a good night’s rest.
- CBN is yet another cannabinoid that may be able to allow users to gain some level of relief from such disorders as insomnia. Like CBD, CBN is non psychoactive and does not pose a risk for dependence like sleeping pills often possess.
- Regular exercise can allow an individual to work off some of the stress, frustration, and energy of the day, so that they are able to drift off to sleep without the frustrating incidents of the day plaguing their minds. Exercise releases endorphins that can boost your mood, and leave you feeling better leaving the gym than when you arrived.
- Melatonin is one of the most commonly used sleep aids. A small dose before bedtime has been shown to assist with falling asleep quicker and staying asleep longer. Unlike sleeping pills, melatonin is safe, natural, and has a very low risk of dependence with little to no known withdrawal effects.
If you are having trouble with falling asleep and staying asleep, these four sleep health solutions may prove to be just what you need. Before making the decision to try one or all of these solutions, consult with your doctor to determine whether or not they might be right for you.
Make sleep a priority, your mental health will thank you!