The Importance of Sleep in Mental Health Recovery
Everyone knows how important it is to get enough sleep. Experts recommend that adults need an average of 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night. Myriad health problems are associated with a lack of sleep, from diseases to depression. Sleep is important for everyone, and even more important for those struggling with mental health issues?
The importance of sleep in recovery cannot be stressed enough. Without good sleep, you’re increasing the risk of more severe symptoms. At the same time, many mental illnesses make it difficult to get an adequate amount of uninterrupted sleep. What are you supposed to do when your disorder inhibits the main things you need to help it?
How Mental Health Disorders Affect Sleep
Lack of sleep is already a serious concern for the general population. A significant portion of American adults doesn’t get the recommended amount of sleep each night. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 35.2 percent of adults in the United States sleep less than 7 hours per night. Additionally, an estimated 6 percent have an insomnia diagnosis.
Sleeping difficulties are even more prevalent among those with mental health problems. You aren’t alone if you toss and turn throughout the night, hoping that it’s not going to be yet another sleepless night. Research shows that 50 to 80 percent of psychiatric patients experience chronic sleep difficulties, compared to 10 to 18 percent of the general population.
People with mental illness often have a difficult time slowing their minds down enough to get the rest they need. Individuals with anxiety, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and bipolar disorder are most prone to experiencing sleep problems. These include sleep disturbances like sleep latency (the amount of time it takes to fall asleep), hypersomnia (feeling excessive sleepiness during the day), and disturbances in sleep cycles or continuity.
General Risks of Poor Sleep
Lack of sleep is associated with many types of problems, both short-term and long-term. You are at a greater risk of developing chronic diseases and other conditions if you don’t get enough sleep. Additionally, according to the National Sleep Foundation, adults who feel sleepy 5 to 7 days of the week experience things like:
- Irritability (52 percent)
- Headaches (40 percent)
- Feeling unwell (34 percent)
Poor sleep leaves you feeling groggy and disconnected from your environment. You experience limited cognitive abilities, slowed reaction time, and decreased overall mood. The longer you go without adjusting your sleeping patterns, the greater your risk of developing more serious conditions.
Some of the chronic diseases linked to poor sleep include type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Hypertension, stroke, irregular heartbeat, and coronary heart disease are more common in people with disordered sleeping patterns. Obesity and sleep apnea are two more conditions seen in those with sleep abnormalities.
The Relationship Between Lack of Sleep and Mental Illness
Insomnia and other sleep conditions are usually noted as symptoms of different mental illnesses. At the same time, sleeping problems raise the risk of developing a mental illness or exacerbating existing conditions.
Individuals in mental health recovery face even greater consequences if they aren’t able to get enough sleep. You’re not only at risk of developing the short- and long-term conditions associated with lack of sleep but you put your mental well-being at risk, too. The consistent discomfort caused by sleep loss can exacerbate your symptoms and create a bigger problem.
You’re more likely to revert into a negative mental headspace when you’re in a heightened emotional state. It’s difficult to control your thoughts when your cognitive abilities are impacted by lack of sleep. The negative effects that sleep loss has on your physical, mental, and emotional well-being may require you to seek more intensive mental health support.
Ultimately, chronic sleeping problems lead to negative thinking and leave people feeling emotionally vulnerable. On the other hand, treating poor sleep health leads to stronger mental and emotional resilience over time.
Tips for Getting Good Sleep
Your long-term mental health recovery depends on your ability to get enough sleep each night. It’s time to address your sleeping troubles if you’re not getting the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. The following tips for getting good sleep are a great place to start.
Set Up a Schedule
Schedules and routines are helpful during early recovery. Creating a schedule that includes a consistent time to wake up and go to bed is crucial when resetting your sleeping patterns. You might not be able to fall asleep at the beginning but sticking to your routine sends signals to your brain and gradually teaches your body when it’s time to go to sleep.
Create a Healthy Sleep Environment
You’re going to have a difficult time getting uninterrupted sleep if you don’t have an environment conducive to sleeping. Avoid artificial light from your phone or television when you’re in bed. Make sure your room is as dark as possible and cut out any unnecessary noise. If needed, sleep with an eye mask and earplugs to eliminate external light and sounds.
Meditation is a helpful practice that can enhance your ability to relax and fall asleep. Begin a nightly meditation practice before bed that focuses on unwinding from the stresses of the day and slowing your mind and body. Make use of guided meditation videos or one of the many phone apps available. You might find that ambient noise is beneficial for your practice.
Exercise and Nutrition
Exercise and nutrition are two vital components of getting good sleep. Exercise is a natural way to leave yourself feeling a healthy sense of tiredness. You don’t need to run miles or lift heavy weights; a daily walk or yoga flow are two great ways to get your body moving daily. Additionally, eating too much before bed can leave you feeling uncomfortable and keep you from uninterrupted sleep. Sugar or caffeine too close to bedtime can cause problems, too.
Be Wary of Sleep Aids
Be wary of the type of sleep aids you incorporate. Some medications can aggravate or intensify your symptoms of mental illness. You don’t want your attempt to lessen one symptom make your other symptoms worse. Consult with your doctor or psychiatrist before incorporating any sleep aids to keep you on the right track.
Seeking Additional Help
Sometimes taking on your sleeping difficulties while managing mental illness is too great a challenge on your own. Attending treatment offers the support you need when making significant changes in your life. Pasadena Villa is a premier treatment network that provides high-quality, individualized care to those struggling with psychiatric disorders.
If you’re experiencing heightened symptoms due to difficulties with your sleep, Pasadena Villa can help. We offer various levels of care depending on your particular needs. Whether you’re looking for the acute support of an inpatient program or the more independent aid of an outpatient program, we’re here to assist you.
Reach out to our admissions team to learn more about what we can do for you. Contact us today and let us know how we can provide the support you need!