Mental Health Awareness Week 2022: sleep and mental health
Author: Jonathan Warren
It’s a well-known fact that our sleep and mental health go hand-in-hand. Not sleeping well can have a negative impact on our mental and physical wellbeing, while poor mental health can affect our ability to nod off and sleep soundly through the night. It’s a cycle which, at times, can feel difficult to break!
But, there’s always light at the end of the tunnel. As this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week takes place between 9th-15th May, we’ve done some research into the important relationship between our sleep and mental health. Plus, we’ve rounded up some helpful tips to help you sleep better if you’re struggling.
How does sleep affect mental health?
A night of good-quality deep sleep helps to recharge our mental batteries, so we’re ready to tackle the next day head-on and process any emotional challenges which we may face. Not sleeping well during the night, or having sleep that’s heavily disrupted, can have a serious effect on our mental wellbeing.
According to mental health charity Mind, those who have problems sleeping may be more likely to feel anxious or depressed, or experience feelings of loneliness and isolation – for example, those who don’t have the energy to visit friends or see people they love. A lack of sleep may also exacerbate the symptoms of any existing mental health problems.
How does sleep affect physical health?
Not only can a lack of sleep leave you feeling tired, irritable and unable to properly concentrate, but prolonged sleep disruption can also have a knock-on effect on your physical health and wellbeing. Sleep Foundation say:
‘Sleep deficiency will not only leave you feeling tired, but can increase your risk for a wide range of diseases and health problems. These include obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke. A lack of sleep also poses a threat to your physical safety.’
Ever noticed that you seem to catch more coughs and colds during periods when you’re not sleeping well? A lack of good-quality sleep can have a significant effect on our immune systems, and how good our bodies are at fending off bugs. Sleepstation say:
‘Good sleep plays a vital role in the immune response’s ability to function, whereas a lack of sleep can reduce immunity from and increase susceptibility to infection.’
6 ways to improve your sleep and mental health
Not sleeping well at the moment? Have a read of our guide to nurturing your mental health through better sleep practices.
1. Reach out and seek help
A problem shared is a problem halved. If your sleep is affecting your mental health, or vice versa, it’s important to talk about it. Reaching out to a friend, loved one or medical professional is the first step to improving the quality of your sleep and mental health. For more guidance and advice, websites such as Mind, Mental Health Foundation, NHS and Royal College of Psychiatrists have lots of helpful resources.
2. Rethink your bedroom environment
For a night of restful slumber, it’s important for your bedroom to be a calm and inviting environment to spend time in. To transform your sleeping space into a haven of rest and relaxation, we first recommend making sure that your floor and surfaces are clear of clutter. Why not take some time to organise your underbed storage? Or make the most of your ottoman bed storage?
To create a true sleep sanctuary, you could also choose to paint your bedroom in a soothing colour palette, swap curtains for black-out blinds or invest in a sleep-promoting essential oil diffuser.
3. Create a calming evening routine
Worrying or feeling anxious before heading off to bed is not conducive to a restful night’s sleep! So creating a relaxing evening routine that helps to unwind your mind is a good way to ensure that you feel settled and calm before heading off to bed.
Rather than watching TV or scrolling on your phone, why not try enjoying a calming soak in the bath, writing in a journal, meditating or listening to a soothing sleep podcast? And, if you have a super-squishy upholstered bed or headboard, sitting up and reading in bed can be a great way to slow down and unwind before drifting off to sleep. Sticking to a regular bedtime can also help those who suffer with sleeping problems.
4. Keep screens away from the bedroom
We’re all guilty of doom-scrolling on our phones, replying to messages or watching videos when we know we should be unwinding ready for bed. But, as the blue light from our phones, tablets or laptops can increase our levels of cortisol (the stress or ‘fight or flight’ hormone) it’s important to keep evening screen-time to a minimum if you’re struggling to sleep at night.
5. Nourish your body, as well as your mind
Now, as we now know the effect that disrupted sleeping patterns and poor mental health can have on our physical well being, it’s important to ensure that we nourish our bodies in the very best ways possible. Eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, plus foods with lots of omega-3 fatty acids, is a brilliant way to boost your nutrition, lift your mood and aid a better night’s sleep.
Stimulants such as caffeine, alcohol or nicotine are also known to cause sleep disruption. For a sounder night’s sleep, why not give herbal or fruity teas a go? Those which contain soothing ingredients such as chamomile and lavender are particularly good to sip in the evenings before bed.
6. Embrace exercise and relaxation
If you’re feeling tired, anxious or low, exercise may be the last thing on your mind. However, incorporating a little light exercise into your evening routine is a brilliant way to unwind before bed and give you a burst of feel-good endorphins. Why not try a short walk in the fresh air, or some gentle pilates or yoga stretches?
Sweet dreams are made of this…
Would your bedroom benefit from a new bed? From practical ottomans and storage beds, to classic and comfy upholstered beds, take a look at our full collection of beautiful beds for inspiration! *** END ***