Discover more about the effects of bad sleep habits on mental health below, and with some top tips for getting enough clean sleep at night.
The connection between sleep deprivation and mental health
Research shows that some mental disorders and sleep disturbances are strongly connected. Whether you’re a bit of a workaholic or you find it hard to switch off, pushing yourself too hard can affect the way you sleep at night. And for those who might often suffer with mental health problems like depression and anxiety, not getting enough sleep can lead to heightened symptoms, like irritability, low mood and lack of motivation. But on the other hand, disorders like insomnia can also lead to the risk of feeling depressed and anxious – it can become a self-fulfilling cycle. So don’t just think of sleep as a break from your everyday routine. Think of it as a necessary part of staying healthy, allowing your body to heal and recover before the next day.
The effects of lack of sleep on mental health
Most people who live with mental health problems find that sleep is hard to come by. Others find that lack of sleep increases their risk of worsening symptoms. Sleep and mental health is undoubtedly linked and it plays havoc with your everyday routine. While not getting enough sleep can leave you feeling tired and drained, there are also mental and cognitive effects that can result from bad sleep habits.
After a good night’s sleep, your brain is almost “reset” and “charged” so that you can prepare for the emotional challenges that may face you throughout the following day. Think of your body as a mobile phone or laptop – every day it needs recharging. So, what is the connection between sleep and mental health? Some of the psychological effects of lack of sleep include:
- Low mood
- Low cognitive function and performance – including alertness and concentration.
- Erratic behaviour
- If you’re tired, your judgement may also be compromised, so making important decisions can be more difficult and can influence your ability to cope with stress.
Discover more about the effects that not getting enough sleep can have on your overall health in our blog: “How does lack of sleep affect health?”.
Tips for reducing the mental effects of sleep deprivation
Now that you understand the link between sleep and mental health, it’s important to know how you can get enough sleep at night to minimise the consequences. If you’re struggling to sleep on a regular basis, speaking to your doctor may offer you some direction. But here are some actions that you can take to improve your quality of sleep and, in turn, support your mental health:
- Get into a routine. If you go to bed and get up at the same time each day, your body will begin to train itself. Your body and mind will soon settle into this new rhythm and in turn you’ll begin to get a better night’s sleep.
- Add a new podcast, book or music to your evening routine. This will help to improve your overall mood and reduce the stress of not being able to sleep, while helping you to switch off and get better quality rest each night.
- Turn off your screens. Looking at your phone or tablet right before you fall asleep can stimulate the brain. Some screens emit a blue light that can restrain the production of melatonin which controls your sleep cycle. This can throw off your natural body clock, keeping you awake for longer than you’d like.
- Write a list. There are a few different lists you can write to clear your mind of worries and thoughts before going to sleep. These include:
-Your worries of the day. Getting them out of your head and onto paper will help to clear your mind.
-Today’s achievements. So you can reflect on them in the future and remember those accomplishments. No matter how trivial it may seem, write it down.
-A gratitude list. Make a note of what you’re grateful for, instead of focusing on the negative.
All of these lists should offer a chance for you to create some empty space in your mind and get rid of any worries that may be stopping you from getting to sleep.
- Get plenty of exercise. Getting active at least 3 times a week for around 30 minutes will help to clear your mind and will have a positive effect on your sleep and your mind. Exercising also releases endorphins and serotonin that help to improve your mood – so it’s a win-win situation.
- Avoid caffeine before bed. This one’s simple. Caffeine can keep you alert and awake so try decaffeinated coffee or herbal tea instead. That way you’re less likely to be kept awake all night and will have less time to worry about what’s on your mind.
- Pick up an adult colouring book. Adult colouring books are a therapeutic tool, designed to help you relax. So picking up your pens and completing a page of your book can also help to clear your mind before bed.
- Make your bedroom a place that you want to sleep in. One of the best ways to get a healthier night’s sleep in a natural way is to create your very own sleep sanctuary. Messy bedrooms mean messy minds, so clear up the clutter and invest in a comfortable, supportive wool mattress and luxurious wool bedding. Getting your hands on some quality bedding made of natural materials will allow you to create an allergy-free, cosy environment to get all the shut-eye you need.
Whether you’re tired of not getting enough sleep, or suffer from anxiety and struggle to get enough shut-eye, getting a better understanding of the causes and solutions can help. So start by putting together your very own sleep sanctuary and leave those worries behind your bedroom door. Whether that’s by downloading a calming sounds app, purchasing a sleep spray for your pillow, or investing in an added layer of comfort and support for your bed. Discover the top 10 health benefits of getting enough sleep and start on your journey to a better night’s sleep today.