Written By Brad Krause
The connection between mental health and sleep might seem obvious. After all, insomnia can make you grumpy and unfocused, which can lead to a host of other issues. However, only recently have scientists taken a serious look at how a lack of sleep might cause psychological problems, like depression, ADHD, and anxiety. Along those same lines, those issues can exacerbate insomnia. Read on as we explore these linked issues, and what you can do to take care of yourself.
The Awfulness of Insomnia
Insomnia is the inability to fall asleep and stay asleep. While many people wrestle with restlessness on occasion, insomniacs can’t get their minds or bodies to quiet down multiple nights per week. Chronic sleep deprivation can affect your memory and mood. Just as problematic, not getting enough sleep can lead to weight gain, high blood pressure, balance issues, and leave you more susceptible to illnesses; all of these can take a toll on your mental health.
What’s Your (Sleep) Style?
Thankfully, there are many ways you can beat the beast of sleeplessness, and you don’t have to resort to over-the-counter or prescription medications to make it happen.
One often overlooked reason for poor sleep is a bad mattress. If your mattress is lumpy or sagging, it can make you uncomfortable, but even if it’s relatively new, you might be sleeping on the wrong surface. There are mattresses available for each sleeping position, including combination sleepers. The key is to research before choosing a mattress, in order to make sure you’re getting the right amount of support while you sleep.
Count Threads, Not Sheep
Comfort doesn’t come solely from your sleep surface. You should also evaluate the materials that are actually touching your body overnight. For instance, if you have allergies, Cozy Earth notes silk is a great fabric selection because of its naturally hypoallergenic qualities.
If you are a hot sleeper, which many people are, look for sheets and a pillowcase that can help keep you cool and wick moisture away from your body. Also use an absorbent mattress pad if you suffer from night sweating. Contemplate what might make you more comfortable, and adjust your bedding appropriately.
Bring in Some Sleep Aids
In addition to your tactile senses, your sense of sound can also interfere with sleep. The sound of a ticking clock, barking dog, and even a snoring partner might be disturbing you. Earplugs are one option, but if you have children or are afraid you will not hear your alarm, consider listening to pink noise. Time asserts that this gentle sound can help improve overall sleep quality and boost memory retention.
If your room is too humid, it can quickly become a breeding ground for mold and dust. This can cause lung irritation which not only is unhealthy, but also can make sleeping difficult. If you bring in a dehumidifier into your bedroom, it can remove the excess moisture and improve the quality of your sleep.
Change Up Habits
Once you have eliminated environmental factors, consider your actions. If stress starts to get to you, try a few natural tension relievers like deep breathing or meditation (or combine both). You might also find that simply smiling can improve your mood and melt the stress away. Additionally, journaling is a known emotional outlet that can help you purge negative thoughts.
What you consume also plays a role in your ability to sleep. Drinking coffee after 4 or 5 PM, for example, can leave caffeine lingering in your bloodstream. A heavy dinner can bloat your stomach, and even a glass of wine, which you might drink to ease into a state of relaxation, can backfire.
Finally, if you aren’t exercising during the day, you should. Maintaining an exercise routine can help stabilize your hormones, the ever-fluctuating chemicals in the body that control everything, including sleep.
If you’re not really sure what is keeping you up at night, consider adding a sleep diary app to your smartphone. Track your habits for a while and see what correlations you notice.
When you already suffer from depression, anxiety, self-esteem issues, or other emotional problem, your inability to conk out can create chaos. Try adjusting your bedding and lifestyle to see what helps. Chronic insomnia may point to a seemingly unrelated health condition, so talk to your doctor if you need additional assistance.