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How important is sleep to our mental health..

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Do you know that sleep is crucial for your health to what extent?

It is pivotal not only for physical health but also for mental health.

Just like eating and drinking are essential for life; similarly, sleeping is also necessary to charge our minds, refresh our bodies and revitalize our memories.

Sleep and health are very closely related- poor sleep increases the risk of poor health and leads a person to problems like stress, anxiety, and depression.

On the other hand healthy sleep makes a person calm, social, happy and composed.

So let’s talk about the relationship between sleep and mental health.

How is mental health related to sleep?

Brain activity fluctuates while sleeping. It is likely to increase and decrease during different sleep stages that collectively form a sleep cycle.

There are two stages of brain activity while sleeping. The first one is non-rapid eye movement while the other one is rapid eye movement.

During the first stage, the overall brain activity is slowed down while during the second stage brain activity surges up rapidly and is associated with intense dreaming.

Sufficient sleep makes it easy for your brain to process and function. Sleep helps to remember your thoughts and evaluate your memories; however, deprivation of sleep is quite harmful to the retention of your thoughts and emotional content.

That’s why a person deprived of sleep suffers from mood swings, emotional reactivity, and other mental disorders like stress, depression, and sometimes suicidal thoughts.

Which mental health problems are related to sleep?

Following neurological disorders are associated with irregular sleeping patterns.

  • Depression: Research studies reveal that over 300 million people are suffering from depression, sadness, and hopelessness worldwide. Out of them, 75% of depressed people show the symptoms of insomnia (lack of adequate sleep) while others suffer from hypersomnia (excessive sleep). Sleeping problems are often seen in those people who are suffering from depression and a sleep-deprived person suffers from more depression. Hence a feedback loop can be created in such a way- poor sleep aggravates depression and also increases the avenues for emotional problems like mood swings, suicidal thoughts, and much more.

2- Seasonal affective disorder: People suffering from the seasonal affective disorder are also likely to have sleep-related problems. It is a subtype of depression that affects people when there is reduced daylight. People living in reduced daylight areas like northern climates are most likely to suffer from this disorder, especially during fall and winter. This disorder is closely related to their biological clock and they either sleep too much or too less in response to reduced daylight.

3- Bipolar disorder: This disorder involves the two extremes of moods. The high mood is mania while the low mood is depression; however, both are likely to cause impairment in daily life routine. In bipolar disorder, sleeping patterns change depending on the emotional state of a person. A person sleeps very less during manic periods while sleeping excessively during periods of depression.

Some other neurological problems like schizophrenia, ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder), ASD (autism spectrum disorder) are also associated with sleep.

What are the consequences from sleep-related problems?

  • Sleep deprivation is highly associated with stress. If you have not taken enough sleep, you will be in a state of discomfort throughout the day. The down mood will cause anger and irritability and you will find it more difficult to cope with the daily tasks. You will find it difficult to cope with minor stress, and daily hassles and will feel more frustrated, annoyed, and short-tempered.
  • Another outcome of sleep-related problems is anxiety. People who are suffering from sleep problems are more likely to develop anxiety if sleep-related disorders are left untreated. It becomes more difficult to get rid of anxiety when you are suffering from sleeping problems. People suffering from anxiety become more sensitive, irritable, frustrated, and outraged without any reason.

How much sleep do we really need??

An average person needs a sleep of 6-8 hours to stay fit in terms of physical and mental health. Not only sleep but a healthy sleep is crucial to maintain mental health. The hours of sleep must be healthy and productive which means that you need a good environment to sleep in.

How to improve your sleep starting from today?

One common reason behind poor sleep is poor sleep hygiene. You need to cultivate those habits that are sleep conducive and can reduce your sleep disruption to a large extent. Some healthier habits for sleeping are:

  • Have a set bedtime routine according to your sleeping schedule.
  • Make the way of your sleep through some relaxation habits.
  • Refrain from tobacco, caffeine, and alcohol in mid-evening and night.
  • Dim the lights of your room and make the environment soft and sleepy.
  • Put away your electronic devices at least an hour before sleeping.
  • Ensure comfortable bedding with soft pillows and a supportive mattress.
  • Block out excessive light and sound if coming from anywhere.

In a be-all and end-all, sleeping is crucial to maintain not only your physical but also to regulate your mental health. It is likely to refresh your memories continually, boost your energy levels constantly, and revive your organ functioning gradually. Sleeping regularly makes you healthy both physically and mentally. The brain is the powerhouse of your body and will malfunction if it is not recharged properly with sleep. Its deprivation can lead a person to stress, anxiety, depression, and much more. You are advised to adopt the practices mentioned above to make an environment conducive to sleeping

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