18-24th May marks Mental Health Awareness Day, an event which aims to get people chatting and opening up about mental health.
Today we’re opening up the conversation of mental health issues and poor sleep, looking into why they are linked, and what can be done to prevent them from intertwining.
How mental heath affects sleep.
There is an extremely strong link between mental health and poor sleep.
Excess worry, anxious thoughts and depression can all cause a cycle of negative thoughts when heading to bed, which tend to keep people who experience these emotions from the sleep they really do need.
Here’s a quick run down of factors which could be causing poor sleep.
–Anxiety. Anxious thoughts tend to manifest themselves and often intensify when we are lying within our own heads in the moments before we fall to sleep.
Thoughts can feel like they are racing through our minds, which can cause poor sleep.
–Depression can cause either over sleeping or under sleeping. People in depressive states tend to head to bed throughout the day in order to try to switch off their brains
–Paranoia can also be a main cause of sleep disturbance. Experiencing night terrors can affect our sleep patterns massively, along with feelings of fear and confusion.
Running into the same theme, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD – can also affect sleep, as people can sometimes experience flash backs and nightmares, causing intermittent sleep disruptions.
Tips for Change
So, what can be done to combat the causes of poor sleep?
Realise that everybody is different.
Like with many aspects of life, no one is the same, and what works for you, might not work for someone else.
It’s important to first identify what might be keeping you up, whether it’s anxious thoughts or feelings of fear – and then go from there.
Don’t worry if not everything on this list works for you, find the thing that does, and stick with it.
Turn off electronic devices.
Opting to turn off electronic devices one hour before bed is a great way to help your mind to relax.
If you like, try listening to soothing music or a meditation podcast to help to relax you. There are plenty of apps which specialise in calming, mental exercises.
Exercise is a great way to clear your mind, boost endorphins and ultimately help you to sleep better.
It doesn’t have to be strenuous, maybe just a walk out in the park with a friend to chat about the sleep issues you have been having lately could be a great way to encourage a good rest come evening.
Reach out – try to resolve the cause of stress
If your sleep disturbance is stress or anxiety related, then reach out to get help and advice for solving the cause of this. Chatting a family member or friend can be a wonderful way to ease tension and lift whatever weight has been leaning on your shoulders.
Chatting and opening up about your struggles is the first step to solving them.
It can be hard tossing and turning, unable to sleep due to thoughts, if you’re also in a super uncomfortable setting. Make your bedroom environment comfortable, get the right bedding for you and pick a cool temperature, as our bodies drop in heat as we fall asleep.
The cool temperature can also help to reduce night sweats, which are often associated with stress and nightmares.
Write everything down
It’s important to remember to write everything down and to journal your experiences with sleep when you’re struggling to get enough of it.
Write down your mood before bed and your mood waking up each morning, and try to paint a picture of what could be causing your poor sleep.
Writing down our inner most thoughts can also be a super calming activity, and, just like reading a book, can also induce sleep come the evening time.
One final tip is to try out some calming exercises, incorporating them into your evening routine. Try out some simple breathing exercises, listen to calming music or run yourself a hot bath to relax your mind and body before sleep.
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