June 19, 2024

While we spend roughly a third of our lives asleep, it’s often the first thing sacrificed in our busy schedules.

However, prioritising sleep isn’t a luxury – it’s a necessity for a healthy mind and body. Look at any other mammal you can think of, they all prioritise their sleep, something we as humans, with our busy lives, tend not to do.

The relationship between sleep and mental health is a two-way street. Poor sleep can exacerbate mental health conditions like anxiety and depression, while pre-existing mental health issues can often lead to sleep disturbances.

Studies have shown that people with insomnia are three times more likely to develop depression. On the other hand, getting enough quality sleep can significantly improve your mood, emotional regulation, and cognitive function.

During sleep, your brain isn’t just resting – it’s actively consolidating memories and processing emotions. This is particularly true during REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep.

Imagine your brain as a filing cabinet. During waking hours, we accumulate experiences, both positive and negative.

REM sleep is like the filing clerk, sorting through these experiences and filing away the important ones, while discarding the emotional baggage associated with less important events.

Without adequate REM sleep, these emotions can linger, potentially leading to increased vulnerability to mental health problems.

Tips for a Good Night’s Sleep (and a Healthy Mind)

• Establish a Regular Sleep Schedule: Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, even at weekends. This helps regulate your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle (circadian rhythm).

• Create a Relaxing Bedtime Routine: Wind down for 30-60 minutes before bed with calming activities like reading, taking a warm bath, or light stretching.

• Avoid screens for at least an hour before sleep, as the blue light emitted can disrupt melatonin production, a hormone that regulates sleep.

• Optimise Your Sleep Environment: Make sure your bedroom is dark, quiet, cool, and clutter-free. Invest in a comfortable mattress and pillows.

• Caffeine and Alcohol: While caffeine can give you a temporary energy boost, it can interfere with sleep later in the day. Similarly, while alcohol may make you feel drowsy initially, it disrupts sleep quality later in the night.

• Regular Exercise: Regular physical activity can improve sleep quality, but avoid strenuous workouts close to bedtime.

• Manage Stress: Chronic stress can wreak havoc on your sleep. Practice relaxation techniques like meditation or deep breathing before bed.


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