Sleep is essential to mental health. Research shows that there is a bi-directional relationship between the amount and quality of sleep a person gets and their mental health. For example, mental health disorders tend to make it harder to sleep well, and poor sleep can contribute to worsening mental health problems. While both sleep and mental health are complex, there are many related factors, and research points to a close association between good quality sleep and mental health. Sleep can be an important component of care plans.
While sleeping the body is able to restore, repair, and rejuvenate. Sleep restores the cells in the body, and toxins are washed away from the day. During sleep, the brain goes into repair mode, and neuronal connections are activated. When a person doesn’t get adequate sleep, the overall blood flow to the brain is decreased, which disrupts memory, concentration, and the ability to think clearly. In addition, poor sleep has been associated with Type 2 Diabetes, Depression, Anxiety, ADD, Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, Stroke, Psychosis, weight gain, and poor lifestyle choices (Amen, D., 2017).
Having trouble falling asleep, experiencing frequent sleep disruptions, and feeling fatigue throughout the day are all signs of poor sleep hygiene. Poor sleep hygiene is fueled by our daily habits. The basic habits of good sleep include:
✔ Getting enough sleep: Adult 18+ need 7-9 hours of sleep.
✔ Getting good quality sleep: Getting uninterrupted sleep is important for sleep health. During the night our body goes through distinct sleep cycles. There are four sleep stages in each sleep cycle, and each sleep cycle lasts approximately 90 minutes. Successfully completing each stage is important to the restorative process of sleep. It is ideal to get 5 -6 sleep cycles per night (Suni, E., & Dimitriu, A., 2020). For more in-depth information on sleep cycles and sleep stages, visit the National Sleep Foundation.
✔ Practicing good sleep hygiene: Sleep hygiene begins the moment a person wakes up, and is comprised of several health behaviors throughout the day.
✔ Addressing stress: Increased stress has been associated with poor sleep. Practicing stress-management techniques during times of stress can help a person sleep better.
✔ Addressing underlying conditions: Poor sleep can be attributed to underlying health conditions. If experiencing poor sleep, talk to a provider who can help (i.e., sleep specialist)
The National Sleep Foundation recently published their annual poll to understand how many Americans are engaging in health behaviors that are associated with poor sleep. Here’s what they found (National Sleep Foundation, 2022):