What’s the Connection Between Sleep and Mental Health?

You know that when you don’t get a good night’s sleep, you feel completely off the next day. You feel sluggish, out of it, and probably pretty cranky. It’s more than just a minor thing, however. There is a strong connection between mental illness and a bad night’s sleep. Here’s why sleep is so important to your mental health.

Sleep and the Brain

Your brain needs sleep because it gives your brain a chance to rest, recover, and repair. Memories are stories and processed, toxins are flushed out, and your brain takes the opportunity to heal from the day’s demands. Most of this occurs during deep, non-REM sleep. That’s why a full night’s sleep leaves you feeling recharged and ready to face the day, whereas a poor night’s sleep has you feeling like you’re walking around in a haze.

Your Mental and Physical Health Can Affect Sleep

While the connection between a lack of sleep and mental illness is well-documented, the unfortunate truth is that there is a vicious spiral here. Your mood can negatively affect your sleep. Insomnia occurs for many reasons, but health concerns, including emotional ones, can absolutely damage your sleep. Saatva points out that when you cannot get to sleep, stress and anxiety play a role because your mind cannot shut down, and it often wastes time replaying the day’s events. At the same time, physical pain can keep you lying awake for hours, preventing a good night’s sleep and the healing that would occur.

A Full Night’s Rest is Key to Mental Health

Studies are clear: People who sleep well feel better, have more positive moods, and are better able to cope with stress and pain. Keep in mind that there is more to a good night’s sleep than just mental health. For example, Black Hills ENT explains that if you’re waking up still feeling drowsy, there is a good chance you have sleep apnea. In many ways, it’s the opposite of insomnia. While sleeping, your nasal area relaxes and blocks air flow. This causes you to wake up gasping, and then you fall back asleep. Also, make sure to monitor the sleeping temperature of your bedroom. The ideal sleeping temperature for most people is between 60-67 degrees.

How do you deal with a lack of sleep and poor mental health? You have to deal with both at the same time. The simple truth is that your mental health can damage your sleeping, but the reverse is true as well, and the only way you can address one problem is by also addressing the other.

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