Paula Gonzalez MA, LPC

Did you know that sleep impacts not only your physical health but your mental health as well? Most of us have experienced the symptoms of lack sleep, such as red burning eyes, headaches, feeling sluggish, reduction of coordinated, increased clumsiness and poor balance. But the lack of quality sleep on mental health are of interest and the focus of this blog.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, the amount of sleep the average adult needs to function at a peak level mentally and physically vary from person to person. The amount of quality sleep we need depends on our lifestyle. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7-9 hours of sleep for adults age 18-64. This is nothing new, we’ve all heard this before. Yet many of us will reduce the number of hours we sleep to get more work done, or we get drawn into watching TV, or going from page to page on social media. Whatever the reason, most of us could use more sleep. 

Here’s why.

Lack of Sleep and Mental Health

Lack of sleep increases the potential of exacerbating symptoms of depression, anxiety, bi-polar and attention deficient disorder. Theses symptoms include fluctuation of mood, irritability, poor focus and concentrate, fatigue and reduced response time. So getting adequate quality sleep regularly can reduce many of your symptoms and help you feel and function better. 

Benefits

You may notice you have more energy, a better mood so you’re more pleasant to be around. It improves your physical and mental response time. Adequate quality sleep reduces your susceptibility to stress.

Small Changes Can Help Improve Your Sleep 

There are small changes you can make to improve your sleep quality. Using one or more of the following can make a difference ultimately with your mental health.

Change Your Routine

Make getting quality sleep your priority. Focus on the foods you eat throughout the day to help set you up for better sleep. Tweak your diet daily, add foods rich in vitamins, minerals, nutrients and healthy fats. The world is full of a delicious variety of foods and 

cuisines there is plenty to choose from. Avoid alcohol and most foods several hours before you go to bed.

Get Active

Aerobic activity reduces stress and tension. Find one or more aerobic exercises you enjoy and incorporate a minimum of 30 minutes daily. Examples of aerobic exercises are dancing, sex, walking, jogging, biking, stairs, swimming, jumping rope, jumping jacks. Sleep Hygiene

Go to bed at a time that allows you to get adequate sleep so you can function at your highest capacity and stick with it every day. Remove or turning off electronic devices in your bedroom at least 30 minutes before bedtime. Make sure the temperature in your bedroom is cool enough to maintain sleep throughout the night. Reduce the amount of light in your room by using a sleep mask or blackout curtains. 

Relaxation

Create a peaceful cozy environment at home for relaxation. Hot baths, showers, meditation, yoga and deep breathing promote sleep. Use sound machines or apps to  block out noise if needed. 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy helps you learn new coping skills and helps reduce maladaptive thoughts and racing thoughts that could inhibit sleep.

Conclusion

Getting adequate amounts of quality sleep increases your potential to improve your mental health. Making small changes throughout your day can improve the quality of sleep you get tonight.

Do you need help finding new coping skills to improve your life? Symmetry Counseling provides individual, couples and family therapy. To schedule and appointment with a counselor, call (312)578-9990.