Have you ever had to wake up for school or work after spending the entire night tossing and turning? If so, you’re not alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a third of adults report that they aren’t getting the recommended amount of sleep.
Given the increasing amount of mental health issues today, it’s important to understand the initial causes and try to find ways we can prevent the issues in the first place. Here are four ways that sleep can impact your mental health and what you can do about it.
1. Reaction to stress
When you aren’t fully rested, it can be difficult to handle the stressors that life throws at you. Small stressors can feel unbearable because a lack of sleep makes you prone to irritability. Constantly feeling like all of the little issues are the end of the world can poorly impact your relationships and completely drain your energy.
It’s essential to be aware of the stressors throughout our day so that we can intentionally handle them in a positive way. Regardless of how much sleep you got the night before, learning about simple solutions to stress can help prevent you from falling victim to your own drama. This may involve getting in shape or taking a step back from our stress and finding ways to ease the burden.
2. Decreased mindfulness
Whether it’s giving your best insight in a meeting or finishing great work in the midst of a tight deadline, being fully present throughout your day can be beneficial. With that being said, your ability to focus and be mindful can be diminished with a lack of sleep.
A Harvard study found that practicing even 20 minutes of mindfulness meditation can help fight insomnia and improve sleep. The practice involves focusing on your breathing and keeping your attention on the present moment. Making time for this practice throughout your day will help you learn how to bring a sense of relaxation to your mind and body. If you make a habit out of mindfulness meditation, it can help you maintain calm and mindful throughout the day.
3. Constant forgetfulness
Forgetfulness can be problematic in both small and large ways. A lack of sleep can cause you to experience extreme memory problems. If you have trouble sleeping, it may be wise to look into what you can do to prevent memory loss. Although you may not be able to go home for a nap during the day, you can try to create healthy habits that can keep your mind as fresh as it can be.
This could mean that you start an exercise plan or make sure that you’re getting the right amount of nutrients in your diet. Another way to counteract forgetfulness is by only doing one thing at a time. If you’re tired and try to multitask, you’re most likely forgetting little important details and would be better off slowing down and doing one task at a time.
4. Increased likelihood of mental health disorders
Researchers have found that people with mental health disorders, such as depression or anxiety, often times also experience issues with sleep. Whether you’re a light sleeper or suffer from a sleeping disorder, the simple fact is that if you have a hard time getting a full night’s rest, you’re also more prone to develop a mood disorder.
If you’re in the category of people who struggle with sleep, you should do everything you can to ensure that you’ve taken the necessary steps to create an environment that’s supportive of your mental health and sleep schedule. Try decluttering, turning off overhead lights a few hours before you go to bed, and fixing loud or broken appliances that could wake you up in the middle of the night. If you’re constantly stressing out about your air conditioning unit making a bunch of weird noises, that additional stress is probably part of the reason why you’re having trouble sleeping.