Mental health is said to be comprised of three main areas. Those three areas include our emotional well-being, social well-being, and our psychological well-being. Sleep impacts our health in a number of ways, and the level of influence sleep has on your own emotional, social, and psychological well-being might surprise you. Of course, most people know that it’s not good to lack sleep, but few know just how much missing even a few hours of shuteye can affect someone.
What Happens When You Don’t Get Enough Sleep?
When you don’t get enough sleep, you may experience any of the following:
- Decreased alertness. This is among one of the scariest effects of a lack of sleep. Abundant research shows that driver drowsiness increases the risk of getting into a car accident, and it’s indicated that being even 1-2 hours short of sleep doubles the likelihood that you’ll get in a crash.
- Alongside other mood changes, irritability, agitation, and anger are correlated with a lack of sleep.
- Research indicates that poor sleep can lead to loneliness and make a person less sociable. This is unfortunate, as social relationships are an incredibly important part of our mental and physical well-being. Alongside the irritability that can come with a lack of sleep, not getting enough sleep can have a real impact on your social life and interpersonal relationships.
- Changes in mood. Research shows that a lack of sleep can lead to various changes in mood and is correlated with anxiety and depression. Trouble sleeping is also a potential symptom of both anxiety and depression. This can be an unfortunate cycle, but it’s not at all an uncommon one to be in.
Long-term, a lack of sleep can have even more detriments. These include but aren’t limited to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke. What is so normalized in our culture, which asks us to perform even if it means sacrificing ourselves and even congratulates exhaustion at the hands of overworking, can actually be deadly. With this information in mind, you may be wondering, “What can I do?” If you’re struggling with sleep right now, it doesn’t have to continue.
Put Sleep Hygiene Into Practice
There are ways to improve your sleep, and one of the most important things to do above all else is to prioritize it. Make getting enough sleep your priority, and consider using the following sleep hygiene tips to help yourself get quality sleep:
- Sleep in a cool, darkroom. Make sure that the room you sleep in is at a comfortable temperature, and turn off or cover any light sources that have the potential to disrupt your sleep.
- De-stress before bed. Whether this means reading, listening to a guided meditation, or something else, it can be advantageous for a lot of people to make sure you are less stressed before bed.
- Avoid caffeine before bed. If you’re a coffee drinker, keep it to a cup or two in the morning.
- Avoid blue light before bed. This means setting aside electronics like your phone and laptop before bed.
- Have a routine. Going to bed around the same time each night and waking up around the same time each morning can help you stick to a schedule, as can having regular nighttime routines that help you relax before bed.
If you try standard tips for sleep hygiene and find that you are still struggling to fall asleep, stay asleep, or if anything else is impacting your sleep, make sure to reach out to a medical professional. There are a number of different conditions and life circumstances that can affect sleep, and if nothing seems to work, there may be an underlying cause.
Finding Mental Health Support
If you’re struggling with mood, sleep, or anything else that’s going on in your life, consider seeing a mental health professional who can help. A mental health provider such as a counselor or therapist is there to offer a non-judgemental ear and work with you to find ways to navigate your concerns healthily and effectively while improving your quality of life overall.
You can find a therapist by searching the web, contacting your insurance company or visiting their website to see who they cover, asking for a referral, or by signing up for an online therapy website such as MyTherapist. MyTherapist makes it easy to sign up and start seeing a provider that suits your unique concerns from the privacy of your own home or anywhere else with a reliable internet connection, and you won’t face barriers that can come with traditional therapy such as long commutes or waiting lists. Whether you see a therapist or counselor in person or online, you deserve to get the support you need, so don’t hesitate to take the first step.