How Sleep Affects Your Mental Health (+ Take Our Sleep Quiz)

Most of us know that sleep is extremely important to our health – both physical and mental. Yet many Americans report they struggle with getting enough quality sleep! In fact, some studies have found that 40-60 million American adults struggle with sleep issues and disorders (1) and over 60% of American children have difficulty sleeping at least one night each week (2). In this blog, we’ll take a look at why getting enough quality sleep is so important for our mental health, how much sleep is recommended, and advice for improving your sleep quality.

First, why is getting enough sleep important for our mental health?

Our stress levels and our ability to cope with stress have been directly linked to getting adequate amounts of sleep. The reason for that is that when we don’t get enough sleep, our bodies actually produce more stress hormones. So not only do we wake up tired – we’re more likely to experience additional stress and our ability to cope with the stress has been lowered! (3)

Lack of sleep also affects the part of the brain that manages our emotions. This means that when we’re experiencing sleep deprivation, our brains aren’t able to properly regulate our emotions and we experience more negative feelings. We’re also more likely to have stronger and more impulsive reactions to situations throughout the day! It has also been found that a lack of sleep causes us to focus on negative thoughts and makes us less able to turn our minds away from those thoughts. (4)

Other effects sleep deprivation has on our mental health includes increased risk of depression and anxiety (5) and an inability to think clearly and remember things (1).

Now, how much sleep is recommended?

We’ve seen why sleep is important for our health, now let’s take a look at how much sleep is recommended.

The amount of sleep a person needs depends on their age. Below are the recommendations given by the National Sleep Foundation for each age group (6):

  • Newborns (0-3 Months): 14 to 17 Hours
  • Infants (4-11 Months): 12 to 15 Hours
  • Toddlers (1-2 Years): 11 to 14 Hours
  • Preschoolers (3-5 Years): 10 to 13 Hours
  • School-Aged Children (6-13 Years): 9 to 11 Hours
  • Teenagers (14-17 Years): 8 to 10 Hours
  • Young Adults/Adults (18-25 Years/26-64 Years): 7 to 9 Hours
  • Older Adults (65+ Years): 7 to 8 Hours

Finally, what steps can you take to ensure you are getting enough quality sleep?

Now that we’ve seen why sleep is important and how much sleep we need, you may be thinking “How can I make sure I’m getting enough quality sleep?”

First, it’s important to note that anytime you feel you aren’t able to get enough quality sleep, you should contact a healthcare professional.  

Re-evaluate your lifestyle and make routines that are conducive to quality rest. Setting a regular bedtime, cutting off the caffeine at least six hours before your set bedtime, exercising regularly, and taking time to relax before bed (taking a bath, meditating, etc.) are changes to your lifestyle that will help improve your sleep quality.

Stress can be one of the biggest reasons we don’t get enough sleep. While low levels of stress are a normal part of everyday life, high levels of stress (especially over long periods of time) can be bad for our health and detrimental to our sleep.

Our staff at Garrett Counseling is always here to help you cope with sleep problems and to help you work toward getting the quality sleep you desire. Contact us for more information about our process.

Bonus Content: Take Our Quiz To Find Out If You’re Getting Enough Quality Sleep

  1. Do you find yourself feeling tired frequently? Yes – No – Sometimes
  2. Do you rely on caffeine to get through the day? Yes – No – Sometimes
  3. Do you frequently find yourself feeling irritable or experiencing extreme emotions? Yes – No – Sometimes
  4. Are you using alcohol or nicotine to cope with your sleep deprivation symptoms? Yes – No – Sometimes
  5. Do you have difficulty making decisions? Yes – No – Sometimes

***If you answered all or mostly “yes” – You are not getting enough quality sleep. It is important that you talk to a medical professional immediately and take steps to improve your sleep quality. Our counselors at Garrett Counseling would be honored to help you, contact us today !

***If you answered all or mostly “no” – You are most likely getting enough quality sleep. However, it is important to be aware of sleep deprivation symptoms and take steps to improve sleep quality anytime you experience those symptoms.

***If you answered all or mostly “sometimes” or you answered evenly between “yes” and “no,” you may not be getting enough quality sleep. Take steps now to improve your sleep quality and talk to your healthcare professional. If we can help you, please contact us today.

Resources:

    1. 10 Facts You Might Not Know About Sleep and Mental Health, Neurocore Brain Performance Centers
    2. Why sleep is important, American Psychological Association
    3. Sleep and Stress, National Sleep Foundation
    4. How Sleep Deprivation Hurts Your Emotional Health, The Sleep Doctor
    5. Get Enough Sleep, Mental Health America

 

 

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