Why is Sleep So Important For Your Mental Health?

We all love a good night’s sleep! Nothing is better, right? But everyone’s sleeping habits/patterns are different. Some of us are night-owls and stay up super late and some go to bed early and rise at the crack of dawn. Also some people can survive on 4 hours sleep, whereas some of us need a good 12 hours! The odd bad night’s sleep isn’t too detrimental to our mental health (just a coffee-fuelled next day) but how does repeated bad sleep affect our mental health? 

There are many reasons and situations that can affect our sleep. These include:

  • Worry or stress over certain issues- e.g. money, housing, work, etc.
  • Difficulties with where you sleep- e.g. you sleep somewhere uncomfortable and you’re disturbed a lot
  • Certain health conditions relating to sleep- e.g. insomnia and other sleeping disorders
  • Being a parent or carer (thinking of you Mums’)
  • Medication can affect sleep
  • Drugs and alcohol
  • Night shifts/working at night
  • Trauma
  • Jetlag
  • Mental health and physical health problems can affect your sleep

We all will experience a few bad nights’ sleep in our lifetime. But what happens if it’s persistent? What happens if we struggle to sleep or sleep too much compared to normal?

You might find yourself:

  • Feeling more anxious, depressed or suicidal
  • More likely to have psychotic episodes- poor sleep has been known to trigger mania, psychosis or paranoia (making existing symptoms worse)
  • Feeling lonely or isolated- E.g. you might not want to go out and socialise or see people
  • Difficulty concentrating, making decisions or plans will be a struggle
  • Irritable 
  • No energy
  • Problems with day-to-day life- e.g. work, family, friends, etc.

However, there are things you can do to improve your sleep for better mental health:

  • Get a routine- fall asleep and wake up at the same time everyday 
  • Make sure your bed and bedroom is comfortable- this includes noise, light, temperature all to make you as comfortable as possible
  • Limit caffeine, nicotine and alcohol before bed time
  • Avoid drinking lots of liquids in the evening- you don’t want to keep going to the toilet throughout the night
  • Don’t go to bed if you don’t feel tired- most people who suffer from insomnia spend more time in bed lying awake rather than actually sleeping
  • Exercise regularly- but not late at night
  • Avoid phones/laptops/tablets at night- the bright light can be overly stimulating and keep you awake

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