Why Healthy Sleep Leads to Greater Mental Health

Sleep is an essential aspect of our overall health and well-being, yet many of us struggle to get the recommended amount of sleep on a regular basis. According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults need between 7-9 hours of sleep per night to function at their best, yet nearly one-third of adults in the United States get less than that.

So, what are the mental health benefits of sleep, and how can we improve our sleep?

One of the primary mental health benefits of sleep is the role it plays in regulating our emotions and mood. Lack of sleep can lead to irritability, difficulty concentrating, and a negative outlook, while sufficient sleep can help us feel more energized, focused, and positive.

Sleep also plays a critical role in memory and learning. During sleep, ourbrains consolidate and process information from the day, which can help us retain new information and improve our problem-solving skills.

In addition, sleep is essential for maintaining physical health, as it helps to repair and restore the body and mind. Lack of sleep has been linked to a number of physical health problems, including an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.

So, how can we improve our sleep? Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Establish a regular sleep schedule: Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on the weekends.
  • Create a sleep-friendly environment: Keep your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet, and invest in a comfortable mattress and pillows.
  • Limit screen time before bed: The blue light emitted by screens can interfere with our body’s natural sleep-wake cycle. Try to avoid screens for at least an hour before bed.
  • Practice relaxation techniques: Try activities such as meditation, deep breathing, or progressive muscle relaxation to help you relax and fall asleep. There is evidence that “478 breathing” where a person takes an inhale for a 4 count, holds breath for a 7 count, and has a slow exhale for an 8 count can help calm the central nervous system and make it easier to sleep.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol: Both caffeine and alcohol can interfere with sleep, so try to limit your intake, especially in the hours before bed.

Sleep is an essential aspect of our mental and physical health, and there are many steps we can take to improve our sleep and get the rest we need. By establishing a regular sleep schedule, creating a sleep-friendly environment, limiting screen time, practicing relaxation techniques, and avoiding caffeine and alcohol, we can set ourselves up for a better night’s sleep and improved overall well-being.

Many of the therapists at Southeast Psych Nashville use cognitive-behavioral strategies to help people improve their sleep. If we can help you with this, give us a call at 615-373-9955 and we’ll match you to the right professional.

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