Insomnia or the inability to sleep properly at night is a common condition affecting nearly 33 percent Americans. Studies all over the world have proved that adults should get at least eight hours of sleep to maintain their physical and mental health.
Mental health and sleep are closely related. While disturbed sleep patterns may suggest a mental health problem, people with mental health disorders are poor sleepers. Additionally, treating sleep problems in people battling a mental disorder can help diagnose and treat mental disorders.
How sleep affects mental health
Though researchers have not been able to point out the exact relationship between mental health and sleep, studies involving neurochemistry and neuroimaging have suggested that a good night’s sleep helps build emotional and mental resilience. On the other hand, sleep deprivation leads to negative thinking and emotional vulnerability.
Insomnia or sleep disruption disturbs the duration of essential sleep cycle. It disturbs the brain by negatively influencing neurotransmitters and stress hormones weakening the ability of thinking and emotional regulation.
Sleep and different mental disorders
Depression: 65 to 90 percent patients of depression aged 18 and above and 90 percent of children affected by depression suffer from some kind of sleep problems.
Bipolar Disorder: In a manic episode, 69 to 99 percent patients report a lower need for sleep. On the other hand, during a depressive episode 23 to 78 percent patients report either hypersomnia or excessive sleeping or restless sleep.
Anxiety disorder: 50 percent patients of anxiety disorder, aged 18 and above, reported disturbed sleep patterns. The symptoms included difficulty in falling asleep and staying asleep and agitated sleep.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): 25 to 50 percent children suffering from ADHD report sleep problems like delayed sleep, restless sleep, and difficulty in staying asleep.
Other mental disorders: 50 percent of patients diagnosed with other mental disorders (panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and phobias) report disturbed sleep patterns.
Dealing with insomnia
Here are the five top tips that one can use to improve their sleep patterns.
Tip 1: Sleep and wake up at the same time: Sleeping and waking at the same time every day is important. This trains your body to follow the clock. With regular practice, one’s body will start following the clock and one would start feeling drowsy at the designated hour and wake up at a particular time.
Tip 2: Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine: Abstaining from caffeine and nicotine at all times is a good idea. However, if that cannot be achieved as of now, then avoid taking it at least two hours before bed. It may seem that alcohol helps sleep better, but it reduces the duration of sleep and dehydrates. When dehydrated, one would get up during the night to hydrate disturbing their sleep.
Tip 3: Use the bed and the bedroom to sleep: Use the bedroom and the bed only for sex and sleeping. Do not eat, read, tally books or do anything else in the bed. Also, keep the bedroom darkened and maintain a cool comfortable temperature to foster better sleep.
Tip 4: Do not sleep in the afternoon: As tempting as it may sound to take a nap in the afternoon, avoid doing it. Taking a nap allows your body to recharge disturbing your nightly sleep routine.
Tip 5: Exercise regularly and eat healthy: Exercising regularly and eating healthy promotes good sleep habits. Try to exercise at a fixed time daily allowing your body to get tired. Eating healthy and avoiding junk food saves you from deficiencies associated with sleep loss.
The road ahead
If following these tips do not improve one’s sleep patterns, then it is important that they seek professional help. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a well-known therapy that can aid sleep and help cure any mental disorder one may be suffering from.
If you or someone you know is having sleep difficulties and is battling a mental health disorder, like depression or anxiety, then contact the California Mental Health Helpline. We can assist you in connecting with a mental health specialist who can help treat and manage your mental health disorder to overcome the difficulty sleeping. Call our 24/7 helpline number 855-559-3923 or chat online with our medical representatives to know about the mental health facilities delivering holistic evidence-based intervention plans for mental health in and around California.