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How Sleep Impacts Mental Health: 10 Tips for Better Sleep

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Recent awareness of mental health concerns has made leaps and bounds in the last few years, but have you ever stopped to think about how your sleep can affect your mental health and vice versa? 

In India, around twelve percent of the population experiences insomnia yearly, and insomnia is a widespread sleep issue globally. Even more intriguing is the data from the Longitudinal Ageing Study in India (LASI) 2017-18, about 15 percent of older adults in India experience sleep problems. 

At some point in our lives, we all experience trouble sleeping. Isn’t it something many of us can relate to right? Who hasn’t had a night where we could not fall asleep because we were mulling over work, family stuff, or perhaps the excitement of an upcoming event? 

When those sleepless nights become a regular occurrence, it can start taking a toll on us. It is like a domino effect. Poor sleep can impact our mood, ability to concentrate, and even metabolism. Sleep is not just about recharging our bodies; it plays an important role in shaping our mental wellbeing. 

Emerging research has established a direct and intricate connection between poor sleep quality and mental health issues. Have you ever had a night of tossing and turning, and the next day, you are physically drained and emotionally fragile? Here’s an exploration of this relationship and some valuable advice from Samvedna Care on achieving better sleep. 

What Is the Relationship Between Sleep and Mental Health?

Sleep and mental health are closely related. Sleep helps the brain process information. We have accumulated during the day, which can improve our mental well-being. Sleep disturbances can adversely affect health and result in psychological and physical fatigue.

Within the Indian context, it’s noteworthy that sleep problems are not uncommon. Statistics indicate that approximately 13% of adults in India contend with insomnia, emphasizing the prevalence of sleep-related issues within the population. This is an important reminder that monitoring and addressing sleep patterns is essential to overall health.

It is also crucial to recognize that the stages of sleep, including both rapid eye movement (REM) and non-REM sleep, have distinct impacts on our mental health and cognitive functioning. REM sleep, for instance, is associated with emotional processing and memory consolidation, while non-REM sleep plays a role in physical restoration and maintaining mood stability. Disruptions in these sleep stages can further underscore the need for comprehensive sleep management as part of mental health care. 

Here is some additional insight into the relationship between sleep and mental health:

  • Sleep plays a crucial role in managing our emotions. During the rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep phase, where we often dream, specific brain parts responsible for thinking, memory, and emotions remain active. Consistent, good-quality sleep enables us to effectively process emotional experiences, promoting better mental and emotional well-being.
  • Inadequate sleep can lead to mental exhaustion. Sleep quality significantly influences our mood, stress levels, and cognitive functions, affecting how we perceive, comprehend, and remember information. Extensive research indicates that prolonged sleep disturbances can exacerbate various mental health conditions, including anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
  • Mental health conditions can disrupt our sleep patterns. Conditions such as depression, ADHD, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia can disturb our sleep, causing frequent awakenings or sleep fragmentation, which disrupt our natural circadian rhythms. 
  • Inadequate sleep can influence one’s mood. Sleep deprivation happens when you consistently fail to attain sufficient hours of sleep. This shortage of sleep can result in disturbances in daily functioning, ranging from feeling sluggish and having delayed reflexes to experiencing mood fluctuations and heightened daytime fatigue.

10 Tips for Getting Better Sleep

A good night’s sleep can often seem elusive in our hectic lives, yet it is crucial for our overall well-being. Healthy sleep habits can make a difference in how you feel during the day. By making a few simple adjustments to your routine, you can take significant steps toward improving the quality of your sleep and, subsequently, your quality of life.

  1. Establish a regular sleep schedule and stick to it as much as possible, even on weekends. This will help to regulate your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle.
  2. Create a relaxing bedtime routine. This could include taking a warm bath, reading a book, or listening to calming music. Avoid watching TV or using electronic devices the hour before bed, as the blue light emitted from these devices can interfere with sleep.
  3. Make sure your bedroom is dark, quiet, and cool. Darkness helps to promote the production of melatonin, a hormone that helps to regulate sleep. Noise and light can disrupt sleep, so ensure your bedroom is as dark and quiet as possible. A cool temperature is also ideal for sleep.
  4. Understand that the bed is meant for sleeping. Do not read, eat, watch TV, talk on the phone, or play board games in bed.
  5. Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed. Caffeine and alcohol can both interfere with sleep. Caffeine can make it difficult to fall asleep, while alcohol can disrupt sleep later at night.
  6. Get regular exercise, but not too close to bedtime. Exercise can help improve sleep quality, but avoid exercising too close to bedtime, making it difficult to fall asleep.
  7. Seek professional support if you have chronic sleep problems or mental health problems. There may be an underlying medical condition that is causing your sleep problems. Mental health professionals can also help you develop a sleep plan for you.
  8. If you lie awake for more than 20 minutes, get out of bed and do something relaxing until you feel tired. This will help to prevent you from associating your bed with frustration and wakefulness.
  9. Try relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation if you have trouble falling asleep. These techniques can help to calm your mind and body and make it easier to fall asleep.
  10. If you wake up in the middle of the night, avoid turning on the lights or checking your phone. This will only make it harder to fall back asleep. Instead, relax and focus on breathing until you feel tired again.

The link between mental health and sleep is profound, and prioritizing better sleep practices is essential for managing mental health. Samvedna Care recommends these strategies to promote improved sleep quality and overall well-being. You can also begin monitoring your sleep routine with the help of Samvedna MAP.

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