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  • Writer's pictureK.C. Dreisbach, LMFT

Why Sleep is So Important



Why Sleep Matters


Sleep is a vitally important part of daily living, but so many of us take the power of sleep for granted. When you sleep, your body is getting the opportunity to recharge. If you don’t get enough of it, you’re never going to feel powered-up, refreshed, and energized.


Take a moment and imagine an RC car (remote-controlled car). When an RC car has completed charging, it runs optimally. It’s fast, “perky,” and responds to the controls on the remote well. When the battery starts to drain, however, the RC car starts to “act funky.” It’s more sluggish, doesn’t go as fast, doesn’t respond to the controller as well, and eventually, just gives out altogether.


In many ways, your body is like an RC car. Every time you get a full night’s rest, you are charging your battery. When your battery is fully charged, you feel refreshed, rested, and energized. But, if you only charge your battery half-way, you might feel tired, slow, or cranky. If your battery runs out of juice, then you find yourself struggling to complete even the simplest tasks, constantly yawning, and feeling incredibly fatigued.


Without enough sleep, your body (just like an RC car) can’t run right. What’s worse, without enough sleep, you’ll find yourself getting sick, having difficulty concentrating, feeling irritable, and having trouble processing memories. Moreover, chronic lack of sleep has been linked to medical problems such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, AND poor mental health!


How Sleep Affects Mental Health


According to Harvard Health Publishing (2021), "Sleep deprivation affects your psychological state and mental health. And those with mental health problems are more likely to have insomnia or other sleep disorders."


Individuals who suffer from ADHD, bipolar disorder, depression, and anxiety more commonly suffer from sleep problems, illustrating the deep connection between sleep and mental health issues. Recent research has suggested that poor sleep may even have a hand in developing and maintaining some mental health problems.


Chronic sleep issues can contribute to a worsening of depressive symptoms, anxiety, increased stress, and can even trigger a psychotic episode! It's easy to see how interconnected sleep and mental health are, and why making your sleep a priority is a key ingredient to emotional wellness.


How to Sleep Better


Once you understand why sleep is important to your physical health and emotional wellness, the next step is learning how to sleep better. The answer: SLEEP HYGIENE.


Sleep hygiene is a term used to describe good sleep habits. If you want to reduce your stress, improve your mental health, and live a healthier lifestyle, then good sleep hygiene has to be part of the prescription! It’s amazing what good sleep can do.


There are several good sleep habits you can develop, and just incorporating ONE can make a world of difference to the quality of your sleep!


Here are 3 sleep habits you can begin practicing today to help give yourself better, more restful sleep.


1. Have a Sleep Routine – Remember how we talked about the brain loving routine? Here it is again! When you have a bedtime routine, you train your brain to associate specific activities with sleep. Have you ever seen a mother use a bedtime routine to help her children get sleepy? There’s a reason why… because it works! But sleep routines aren’t just for kids. They work wonders for adults too! Consider creating your own sleep ritual to train your brain to fall asleep.


2. Take a Hot Bath – Consider taking a hot bath or shower 1-2 hours before going to bed. Research shows that sleepiness is connected to a drop in your body temperature. As such, taking a hot bath (which elevates your body’s temperature) can help induce sleepiness as your body’s temperature slowly drops again following the scrub in the tub.


3. Nighttime Journaling – This tip is particularly helpful for the worriers! Have you ever tried to fall asleep, but your brain just keeps on worrying and worrying and worrying about EVERYTHING! This keeps many people up at night, tossing and turning. Consider getting a journal, notebook, or sheet of paper, and write down all those worries. Get them out of your head and onto paper. There’s something therapeutic about writing out all your concerns and problems. When you do this, something shifts in the brain. Part of the reason your brain floods you with thoughts before bed is because it doesn’t want you to forget. When you write it all down, your brain knows that all of those worries are on paper now, allowing it to relax because it knows you won’t forget. Journaling is also a great tool to release stress, process the day, and reflect on positive moments.


Want more ideas on healthy sleep habits and how to improve your sleep hygiene? I've got you covered! Download my FREE Sleep Hygiene Guide which provides 12 different sleep habits that can improve your quality sleep and help you fall asleep faster.


I hope you found this article useful. Sleep is a key factor to good mental health, but we all take it for granted. Make today the day that you choose to make sleep a priority in your sleep!


P.S. Are you struggling to fall asleep? Is anxiety or stress keeping you awake at night? Is stressful thinking keeping you from feeling rested and rejuvenated in the morning? I can help! Check out the Anti-Anxiety Workshop, a 6-week course designed to help you reduce your stress and eliminate anxiety. Join the workshop now, and discover the life you've been missing out on! Click here to learn more.

 

References


Cherry, K. (2020, February 24). How Does Sleep Affect Mental Health? Retrieved from Very Well Mind:


Harvard Health Publishing. (2021, August 17). Sleep Deprivation Can Affect Your Mental Health. Retrieved from Harvard

Health Publishing: Harvard Medical School: https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/sleep-and-mental-health

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Krystal Dreisbach is a licensed therapist, mindset coach, adjunct professor of counseling, and published author.  Her specialties include depression treatment, anxiety counseling, stress management support, and mindset coaching.  Learn more about Krystal and see how she can help you live a better life.

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