Anyone who struggles with their mental health knows that their trouble with their brain impact every aspect of their lives, from their appetite to their sleep. However, they might not know that getting a poor night’s sleep can exacerbate the problems that they are already struggle with. It can also make some new ones for you to deal with.
When insomnia is commonplace, you are at a much higher risk for depression and suicide. People with depression are also at a higher risk for developing insomnia. When you combine the two, you can have a vicious cycle of problems that worsen each other.
How Sleep Deprivation Hurts Mental Health
Not getting enough sleep can lead to mental, physical and emotional exhaustion, all of which contribute to making it harder to deal with your existing mental health issues. Going without sleep makes it harder to make decisions, modulate your mood and emotional state, and to deal with the stressors in your life. If you also suffer from an injury or chronic pain, you’ll find that your pain will feel more intense than usual when you’ve slept badly, which is frankly just rude.
This can also lead you to feel like you lack the energy to do anything, including the activities that make you feel like yourself. This can impact your social life, making you feel isolated and lonely despite having friends around you. You might also find yourself struggling with your mood and patience levels when you do find the energy to hang out with your friends.
How Mental Health Struggles Hurt Sleep
Depression, anxiety and any other mental illness can make it harder for you to fall asleep at night and stay asleep for the length of time you need to feel rested.
For example, anxiety can make it harder for you to turn your brain off when it’s time for bed, which will make it harder for you to fall asleep. It can also make you wake up in the middle of the night panicking about something that could definitely
Depression can make it difficult for you to feel rested even when you sleep for long periods of time. However, depression also makes it harder for you to stay asleep for long enough to get REM sleep. It can also lead to hypersomnia, where you get too much sleep but don’t feel rested.
How to Support Better Sleep Habits and Better Mental Health
Luckily, there are a lot of things you can do to make your sleep habits and your mental health better with small adjustments to your life, particularly in the evenings. Remember that not all of these tips will necessarily work for you, but none of them will if you don’t give them a try.
Make Time For Sleep
You should set yourself a set time to go to sleep and wake up in the morning and stick to it whenever humanly possible. Adjust your schedule accordingly in order to have eight or more hours where you have no responsibilities other than getting a good night’s sleep.
Make your Sleep Space Comfortable
No one wants to go to bed somewhere where it isn’t comfortable, so make sure that your mattress is suited for you and your other physical health needs. If you sleep on your back or on your side, you’ll need a mattress and pillows that’s suitable for the way you sleep.
You should also make sure that your bedroom is dark, cool and has good airflow. It’s been found that people sleep best between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit. You should also try to make sure there is as little light in the room as possible. Luckily, it’s easy to do both of those things in your space without much of an additional expense. Adding blackout curtains and turning the temperature down in your bedroom will do a lot to help you fall asleep and stay asleep.
If you find yourself waking up at simple sounds, try adding a white noise machine to your bedroom to help drown those sounds out. A fan can help with this, as well as creating air flow that will help to keep you cool at night.
Maintain Healthy Sleep Habits
Routines are great for both your sleep habits and your mental health. Building healthy sleep habits is a great way to create a routine that will not only make your brain wind down at night, but also help your body to do the same. Keeping this routine no matter what’s going on in your life will help you to actually get to sleep.
Some Things to Add To Your Routine:
- Brush Your Teeth
- Take a Warm (Not Hot) Bath
- Read Something Relaxing
Some Things to Avoid In Your Routine:
- Using Your Phone
- Heavy Exercise
- Watching TV
- Drinking Alcohol
Work to Manage Anxiety at Night
Use some of those healthy sleep habits, and the skills you learn in therapy to manage your anxiety as much as possible. Focus on your own self care. If you find yourself struggling with anxious thoughts, try writing them down so that you can wait to deal with them until the morning. This can short circuit the anxious thoughts and let you get to sleep easier.
Get Professional Help with Your Sleep and Mental Health Disorders
While changing up your sleep and eating habits can do a lot of good, they aren’t a cure for any of your mental illnesses or sleep disorders. Talk to a professional about medication, sleep tests or getting counseling if your sleep issues persist or your mental health worsens. This is the most important advice that I can give you.
If you take medication for your mental illnesses, try taking them in the morning instead of at night, in order to help you get to sleep without the side effects affecting your sleep. A doctor will be able to help you to figure out how to avoid those side effects whenever possible or to adjust your medication to have fewer side effects overall.