Surprisingly, sleep is often overlooked as the root cause of health problems. If we’re feeling down, have an upset stomach, a runny nose or a persistent cough, a lack of sleep is the last on a long list of a doctor’s suspicions of what is causing the sickness. However, not getting enough shuteye can have a direct impact on one’s immune system, suppressing the body’s ability to respond to colds and other foreign bacteria effectively, ultimately resulting in sickness. As well as physical health, there’s a growing body of evidence to support the theory that a lack of sleep could also be to blame for mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.
What is mental health exactly?
Mental health refers to our psychological, social and emotional well-being. It has to do with all the factors that have an effect on how we think, feel and act, and helps determine the ways in which we handle stress, deal with other people and make choices throughout our lives. Just as you would go to a doctor for an annual physical check up to determine if your blood pressure and body fat percentage are within a healthy range, visiting a psychiatrist to evaluate your mental health is a good habit to get into. Poor mental health can often affect our lives in highly detrimental ways, altering your thinking, mood and relationships severely.
What are the factors involved with poor mental health?
Mental illness takes a number of different forms and in turn is caused by a combination of biological, psychological and environmental factors. In terms of biological factors, some people may be predisposed to mental illness because of the irregular functioning of nerve pathways that connect certain regions of the brain or because of genetic and hereditary reasons. Psychological factors such as severe psychological trauma, sexual, physical, or emotional abuse can also be a causal factor in the development of a mental illness. Furthermore, environmental factors such as the death of a loved one, divorce, a large change such as moving or a dysfunctional family life can trigger a mental illness in someone who was already predisposed to it. In fact, even your day to day habits could be affecting your mental well-being.
The link between sleep and mental illness
Sleep problems affect a vast amount of the population, but research has shown that they’re particularly common in people with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder and ADHD. Furthermore, sleep problems may actually increase the likelihood of developing particular mental illnesses. Therefore, it makes sense that tackling insomnia, fitfulness and other sleeping disorders may help significantly improve the symptoms of the mental health problem in question.
How to get better sleep
When it comes to getting a good night’s sleep, it’s not just about the length of time you’re going to be sleeping, but the quality of sleep that counts. There are a number of factors that can affect the quality of your sleep including room temperature and light levels, but the very first thing you should take into consideration should be your mattress. An ideal mattress should support your body without being too hard, regulate your body temperature and be breathable.
The technology utilized by mattress companies has come a long way in recent years. In addition to new fabrics and materials being developed, the accessibility of acquiring a mattress has progressed too. It’s now possible to order directly from online mattress sellers like Eve and have it delivered directly to your house. This can help lighten the burden of creating an optimal sleeping environment; instead of testing a mattress in a busy store, you can simply try it at home and send it back if it’s not to your liking.
You should also ensure that your bedroom is just that – a room for your bed. It might be tempting to take your laptop to bed with you to watch some Netflix or do some work, but your bedroom should be precisely for two things – sleeping and sex. Any other activities should ideally be undertaken in other parts of your house. This separation of your bed from everything else will trick your brain into falling asleep easier as it will be conditioned to associate your bedroom with sleep. You’ll also be free of distractions, allowing you to drift off to sleep more easily.