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  • Writer's pictureHeather Steele

Get Some Sleep! How Sleeping Habits and Mental Health are Related.

Sleep plays a crucial role in maintaining overall physical and mental health. It is a time for the body to repair and rejuvenate itself, and for the brain to process the events of the day and consolidate memories. However, many people struggle with insomnia, sleep apnea, or other sleep disorders that can lead to poor sleep quality and daytime fatigue.

Inadequate or poor quality sleep can have serious consequences for mental health. Studies have shown that people who suffer from insomnia or other sleep disorders are more likely to experience anxiety and depression.(1) Lack of sleep can also lead to irritability, mood swings, and difficulty concentrating, which can make it harder to cope with stress and other daily challenges.

In one major study of 10,000 adults, people with insomnia were five times more likely to develop depression. Lack of sleep can be an even greater risk factor for anxiety. In the same study, people with insomnia were 20 times more likely to develop panic disorder (a type of anxiety disorder). (1)

Chronic sleep deprivation is also associated with an increased risk of developing conditions such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and even Alzheimer's disease. This is likely because sleep plays a crucial role in regulating mood and cognitive function.

It's not just the quantity of sleep that matters, but also the quality. The most important stages of sleep for mental health are the deep non-REM sleep stages, and these are the stages that are most disrupted in insomnia.

To maintain good sleep hygiene, it's important to have a regular sleep schedule, avoid caffeine and heavy meals close to bedtime, and create a comfortable sleep environment that is dark, quiet, and cool. It's also important to avoid electronic devices for at least an hour before bed, as the blue light emitted by screens can suppress the production of melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle.

Physical exercise is also beneficial for sleep. Regular exercise can help to regulate the sleep-wake cycle, as well as reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. However, it's important to avoid vigorous exercise too close to bedtime, as this can actually make it harder to fall asleep.

Stress and anxiety can also have a major impact on sleep. Stress activates the body's "fight or flight" response, which can make it difficult to relax and fall asleep. Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, yoga, and meditation can help to reduce stress and promote relaxation, which in turn can improve sleep quality. If you are struggling with stress, let's chat and see if any of our counselors and therapists are a good fit for you.

If you are having trouble sleeping, it's important to see a doctor or sleep specialist to rule out any underlying medical conditions that may be causing insomnia or other sleep disorders. They will be able to recommend appropriate treatment, which may include medication, behavioral therapy, or lifestyle changes.

In conclusion, sleep and mental health are closely linked. A regular sleep schedule, good sleep hygiene, exercise, stress management and adequate time before sleep are necessary to maintain good mental health. If your insomnia or other sleep disorders persist, talk to a doctor, they can help you figure out and address the underlying causes.

If grief or the loss of a loved one is affecting your sleep, find out more about grief here.


  1. Sleep and Mood - Dr. Lawrence J. Epstein -

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