Mental wellness and sleep are intricately connected. Disruptions in sleep hygiene can wreak havoc on your psychological health. Conversely, those with mental health disorders are more likely to develop sleep problems, such as insomnia.
What Exactly is Mental Wellness?
Mental wellness is defined as “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community” by the World Health Organization.1
Americans are renowned for their poor sleep habits as is, but those with added mental health conditions – such as anxiety, depression, and attention deficit disorder (ADHD) – are far more likely to suffer from chronic sleep problems. In fact, 50% to 80% of patients in a typical psychiatric practice suffer from sleep issues in comparison with only 10% to 18% of the general population.2
There is undoubtedly a correlation between long-term stress and mental wellness, but what role does stress play in your ability to get a good night’s rest?
The Relationship Between Stress and Sleep
Unchecked stress levels have many adverse effects on the body, and your sleep hygiene is no exception. Stress and sleep work in a cycle, affecting one another bidirectionally.
When sleep deprived, levels of irritability, overwhelm, and disinterest rise, and motivation and patience begin to plummet. Certain habits that aid in inducing sleep, such as frequent exercise, also fall to the wayside.
In turn, when dealing with elevated stress levels, you may struggle to fall asleep thanks to a barrage of racing thoughts.
For more information on how stress and sleep interact, delve into our previous blog post.
The Cost of Poor Sleep and Neglected Mental Wellness
Approximately 700,000 people commit suicide every year, and despite this, less than 2% of the global median health budget is allocated to mental wellness. In addition, insufficient sleep has an estimated economic impact of over $411 billion each year in the United States alone.3
Due to this complex dynamic between sleep and mental well-being, taking a comprehensive approach is vital. Get started today by utilizing our tips below.
Tips for Improving Sleep Quality:
- See What Benefits Your Employer Offers
Sleep plays a momentous role in your overall health, mentally and physically. Check with your employer to see what benefits they offer, such as comprehensive sleep testing. When it comes to your health, staying proactive is a must.
- Implement Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Practices
CBT is all about challenging the way we think and do things. This technique will encourage you to question your ideas about sleep and lead to a close examination of your current sleep habits.
- Use Relaxation Techniques
If you have trouble winding down before bedtime, consider adding some relaxation techniques to your routine. Meditation, deep breathing, yoga, and playlists are great tools for calming the nervous system and preparing for sleep.
- Put Away Bright Devices
As tempting as it is to scroll through your phone late into the night, the light from your screen can hamper your sleep ability. This specific type of light – known as blue light – is beneficial during the day thanks to its attention and mood-boosting qualities. However, too much exposure can disrupt our circadian rhythms. If unable to bring yourself to put down the phone, consider purchasing blue-light-blocking eyewear or checking whether your device offers a blue-light filter to lessen harmful effects.
- Cultivate a Nightly Routine
Having a nightly routine can make a big difference in sleep efficiency. Start by picking a bedtime and sticking to it. Leading up to this chosen time, perhaps add in a warm bath or one of the relaxation techniques mentioned above. Consistency is key!
- Turn Your Bed into a Sleep Oasis
One of the best ways to fall asleep quickly is to begin associating your bed with sleep and sleep alone. Avoid using your bed for work activities. This will cue your brain to view your bedroom solely as a place of rest.
Tips for Improving Mental Wellness:
- Seek Help
There is absolutely zero shame in reaching out for help from a professional. Sometimes it may be easier to talk to someone unbiased who can see you and your situation clearly. If you feel speaking with someone might benefit you, do not hesitate to look for help.
- Practice Gratitude
Learning to focus on the positive is a skill just like anything else. A great way to nurture this ability is to take a few minutes each day to write what you are thankful for. You might be surprised by just how many things you can come up with.
- Connect with Others
Humans are social creatures for a reason. Though not a cure, it never hurts to find people who can relate to what you are experiencing. The world truly does become less daunting when we share our struggles with others. Consider reaching out to a good friend or seeking a community to join.
- Tend to Your Physical Health
Dealing with mental illness is draining. One of the best ways to equip yourself for the battle is by eating nutritious foods and participating in a form of exercise you enjoy. If you are not sure where to begin on the exercise front, consider trying out a sport that has proven emotional regulatory effects like rock climbing.
- Develop Your Coping Skills
Negative emotions are difficult to respond to so it is no surprise humans have found several less-than-ideal ways to cope. The next time you are overcome with emotion, consider implementing the P.A.U.S.E method or other thought-stopping techniques.
- Take Up Journaling
Studies have shown that taking the time to write out feelings about stressful events, known as expressive writing, results in a reduction in anxiety levels. However, it is important to note that this approach is contraindicated for individuals uncomfortable with expressing emotion.4
- Bring the Outdoors to You
While spending time outside is a proven mood booster, studies have also shown that simply viewing depictions of nature is enough to calm body responses.5 If fitting a hike in your day is not realistic, try changing your desktop background to your favorite nature scene.
The intimate relationship between sleep and mental wellness is a difficult landscape to navigate so it is important to have a diverse set of tools at your disposal. Somnology offers a comprehensive perspective to sleep monitoring and care, with the SLaaS® (Sleep Lab as a Service) platform, SomnoRing®, and our mobile app. We have streamlined a typical sleep diagnosis experience by delivering the technology and medical insight of a sleep lab directly to users. To learn more about SLaaS® and the effects of sleep, continue reading our blog or subscribe to our newsletter.