Poor sleep has a larger effect on your health than you may think
Sleep is an essential ingredient to overall health. Yet too many Americans don’t get enough of it. According to a recent study conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, adults need seven to nine hours of sleep each night. However, 35 percent of adults in the U.S. average less than the recommended seven hours of sleep, according to a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
It can be easy to sacrifice sufficient snoozing for leisure activities, such as late-night Netflix binges or scrolling on our phones. Jason Addison, MD, who serves as the Service Chief of Sheppard Pratt’s Young Adult Unit, says: “Today, the 24/7 availability of entertainment options are easier to find than they used to be, making us more prone to stay awake. We like to carve out time for ourselves. Yet we are really just borrowing from ourselves for the next day.”
For some, it can also be tempting to “burn the midnight oil” to catch up on work deadlines or household chores left undone during a busy day. Further, sleep disorders can also impact adequate sleep. We may want to sleep, but a variety of factors prevents us from getting the shut-eye our mind and body crave.
Unfortunately, poor sleep can be a contributing factor to the beginning or worsening of mental health problems.
The first symptom of chronic sleep deprivation is exhaustion, both physical and mental. Without sleep, our brains don’t function optimally, and we can have trouble concentrating or learning. It can also impact our emotions. Fatigue also makes us more likely to be irritable or depressed. Improving sleep, on the other hand, can have a beneficial impact on our mental health.
Dr. Addison explains that there is an increased recognition that we sleep for a reason. “We have realized the powerful impact that rest has on our overall health. In rest, our bodies repair, our brain processes things, and, ultimately, we are able to be more productive and healthy.”
Get the Zs Your Body Needs!
Here are a few tips for getting a good night’s sleep:
- Create a designated spot to sleep that is free of distractions.
- Establish a relaxing bedtime routine and go to bed at the same time each night.
- Limit screen time before bed and silence all notifications.
- Make sure your daytime activities don’t impact your nighttime rest. Limit meals before bed, caffeine or alcohol during the day, and eliminate substance use.
- Process your anxieties throughout the day through mindfulness exercises rather than pushing them aside. Too often, the emotions we fail to process during the day revisit us at night as we try to fall asleep. Some individuals may benefit from professional therapy and medication.
For more tips to improve your wellbeing, check out our Mindful Minutes series on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube!