Be honest – how many hours of sleep do you get per night?
Experts recommend you get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep every night. Do your regular sleeping habits land you anywhere near that number? Plenty of people believe they get that much sleep but scrolling through your phone while lying in bed doesn’t count towards your sleeping hours.
35.2 percent of American adults sleep less than 7 hours per night. Most people don’t see sacrificing sleep as a big concern, but research proves otherwise. Lack of sleep is a serious problem that can lead to a range of physical and mental health problems. Many people insist they operate just fine on 4, 5, or 6 hours of sleep, but studies show they’re likely less functional than they realize.
Poor sleep makes it harder to live a healthy, productive life. And while sleep is vital for the population in general, it’s especially important for people who live with mental illness. Sleep deprivation makes symptoms of mental illness worse, including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and more.
However, many mental illnesses make it challenging to get the recommended amount of sleep. This causes difficulties for anyone trying to manage their mental health. How does a lack of sleep affect your mental well-being? What can you do to ensure you receive as much sleep as possible and you can keep your mental health in check?
Effects of Sleep Deprivation
Almost everyone has a bad night of sleep from time to time. Maybe you ate a bit too much at dinner, had one too many drinks while out with friends, or feel consumed by stress at work or home. It’s normal to have a poor night of sleep now and then, but problems arise when your sleeping troubles become consistent.
Lack of sleep causes a range of unpleasant effects, such as:
- Mood swings
- Trouble concentrating
- Memory problems
- Learning difficulties
- Frequent infections or illnesses
- Blurred vision
- Changes in appetite
These effects are detrimental to anyone’s wellbeing. Most people experience at least a few of the effects but do not correlate them with their lack of sleep. Too many have accepted sleeplessness as the new way of life. Some even wear their limited hours of sleep as a badge of honor.
The truth is, the unpleasant effects above are only the start of the problem. If you continue skipping out on sleep, they can quickly progress into more serious health concerns. Hypertension, stroke, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and coronary heart disease are only some of the many chronic diseases associated with poor sleep.
The Relationship Between Sleeplessness and Mental Health
Lack of sleep is harmful for the general population, but the problems are magnified when you live with mental illness. At the same time, restlessness and insomnia are two common symptoms of poor mental health. Sleep is crucial when you struggle with a mental health disorder, but your symptoms may often keep you from getting the very sleep you need.
Trying to manage mental illness on limited sleep is a serious concern. The effects of sleep deprivation tend to intensify other symptoms of mental illness. Increased lack of sleep can cause more stress and anxiety around sleeping, creating a cycle that worsens with time. Sleep disturbances among people with mental illness include:
- Disturbances in sleep cycles or sleep continuity
- Sleep latency (how much time it takes to fall asleep)
- Hypersomnia (excessive sleepiness during the day)
Research shows that 50 to 80 percent of psychiatric patients suffer from chronic sleep problems. This far surpasses the rates of 10 to 18 percent of the general population of adults in the U.S. Difficulties sleeping are often seen in individuals with conditions like anxiety, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and bipolar disorder.
Learn more below from our Medical Director, Dr. Daniel Bober, as he discusses what you can do for your mental health: “The Big Three: Sleep, Exercise, and Diet”:
Tips to Manage Sleep in Mental Health Recovery
The solution to sleeplessness begins with mental health treatment. Trying to manage your sleeping while leaving your mental health untreated doesn’t consider the entirety of the problem. Once you’re treating your mental illness, though, then the following tips for getting better sleep in mental health recovery can help.
1. Set a daily schedule
Setting a routine is a foundational way to both manage mental health and ensure consistent sleep. Try to get in bed and out of bed at the same time each day so your body learns when it’s time to go to sleep and wake up.
2. Set up a proper sleep environment
Try to keep your bedroom set up for sleeping only. Eliminate bright lights, noisy electronics, and flashing chargers. Make your room as dark and quiet as possible when it’s time for bed. If you can’t keep it dark, consider investing in a sleep mask.
3. Get some exercise
Exercise is a natural way to release stress and sufficiently tire yourself out. It doesn’t need to be heavy, strenuous exercise, either. Go for a walk, swim some laps, practice yoga, or take a hike.
4. Don’t neglect nutrition
Eating too close to bedtime or consuming foods that are difficult to digest can make for sleeping problems. Limit large meals to earlier in the day and consider how your food selections may affect your sleep.
5. Practice meditation
Meditation is a great practice for managing any stress or anxiety you experience during the day so you can release it in the evening. Consider incorporating a pre-bedtime meditation practice.
6. Forego the sleep aids
Sleep aids may seem like a helpful tool but they only make it harder to get unassisted sleep over time. You may develop dependence, either physically or psychologically, and aiming for natural sleep is the best approach.
7. Maintain your mental health treatment
Don’t forget that managing your mental health lies at the core of your sleep wellness. Continue with any mental health treatment programs you’re in and don’t neglect any aftercare or ongoing support that is offered.
Mental Health Treatment at Lifeskills South Florida
At Lifeskills South Florida, we understand that sleeping difficulties are a common experience. Living with mental illness is not easy and struggling to sleep only makes it more challenging. If you’re having a hard time managing your mental illness due to problems with sleeping, we’re here to help.
Since 1991, we’ve developed customized treatment programs tailor-made for individuals suffering from mental health and substance use disorders. Our Florida-based facility places you in a warm, comfortable climate where you can focus solely on managing your mental health and maintaining recovery.
It doesn’t matter whether this is your first time seeking treatment, or you’ve been to a facility before. We know that healing is not a linear process, and we want to support you at whatever step of the journey you’re on. You shouldn’t have to live in silence and struggle alone; we’re here to help.
Reach out to us to learn more about our therapy programs and how we can help you. Our knowledgeable admissions team is awaiting your confidential call to answer your questions or connect you with the program that’s right for you. Give us a call or submit a form so we can be in touch and ensure you receive the help you need today!