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Get your Snooze On!


 

March is National Sleep Awareness Month.  Let’s talk about the importance of a good night’s sleep for mental health. 

 

“A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book.” Irish Proverb

 

 

Let’s face it—getting a good night’s sleep feels… well… good!  Waking up well rested and ready to tackle the day puts a spring in your step and sets you up for a successful day ahead.  But did you know that both the quality and quantity of our sleep also impacts our mental health?  March is National Sleep Awareness Month, so it’s an important time to highlight the crucial role that our sleep has on our overall well-being. 

 

The impact that sleep has on our mental health cannot be overstated—in fact, it is a fundamental aspect of a healthy lifestyle.  Many of us take care of our general health by eating healthy, exercise, and taking our daily vitamins, but part of our self-care should involve healthy sleep habits too.  Below are some key points that emphasize the role sleep has on healthy mental health.

 

1.     Restoration and Recovery--Sleep provides our body with time to restore and recover from the day.  During sleep, the brain is awake and undergoing essential processes, such as memory consolidation, emotional processing, and neural rejuvenation.  Getting enough sleep allows these to take place in order to maintain cognitive functioning and emotional balance.

2.     Stress Regulation—Lack of sleep can impact our stress levels and make it harder to

manage daily challenges.  Quality sleep helps us regulate our stress hormones,

manage our emotional well-being, and reduce the risk of mental health complications.

3.     Emotional Resilience—when our emotions remain in a heightened state, we become

less resilient.  Individuals who consistently experience insufficient sleep may find it

harder to regulate their emotions, leading to greater sensitivity to stressors, mood

swings, irritability, poor concentration, and relationship difficulties.

4.     Cognitive Function—without optimal sleep, our cognitive functions decrease, leading

to problems with attention, concentration, problem-solving, and decision-making. 

Inadequate sleep can impact us like medication that makes us drowsy, which can

impair our cognitive performance, affecting daily activity and productivity.

5.     Mood Disorders—Sleep plays a major role in the development and management of

mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety.  Insufficient sleep is associated with

an increased risk of developing these conditions, and adequate sleep is often an

integral part of their treatment.

6.     Psychiatric Disorders—sleep disturbances also are common in many other psychiatric conditions, such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and ADHD.  Addressing sleep

issues are often a component in the comprehensive treatment of these disorders. 

7.     Brain Health—long-term sleep deprivation has been shown to be linked to an

increased risk of neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s Disease.  Good

sleep is essential for promoting overall brain health and reducing your risk of cognitive

decline.

8.     Hormonal Balance—sleep plays a vital role in regulating hormones that influence mood

and stress, such as cortisol and serotonin.  Disruptions in sleep can lead to a reduction

in these hormones, affecting physical and emotional well-being.

9.     Daytime Functioning—Adequate sleep is necessary for maintaining daily optional

functioning.  Lack of sleep can lead to decreased alertness, fatigue, and impaired

performance in work or school tasks.  It can also negatively impact both the physical

and mental aspects of well-being.

10.  Preventative Measures—Creating a consistent sleep schedule, prioritizing good sleep

hygiene, avoiding exposure to blue light through nighttime scrolling on your phone,

and practicing relaxation techniques all contribute to better sleep quality.  These

preventative measures can positively impact mental health and overall quality of life. 

 

So, shut off the t.v., stop scrolling on your cell phone, and turn off the lights a little earlier each night and see how a few extra minutes (or hours) of good zzz’s does for you in the morning.  Chances are, you will feel better and your monthly Starbucks bill will be significantly reduced.  Here’s to better sleep!

 

 

 

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