Most have experienced days where they feel physically and mentally sluggish, grumpy, or simply down in the dumps. These and other symptoms are often the result of a lack of sleep or poor sleep quality.
Sleep plays an important role in the regulation of important bodily functions including mood regulation, energy level, and mental wellness. Because of this, those who do not get adequate rest are likely to suffer from mental dysfunction and mood disorders such as depression. However, by making quality sleep a priority, you may be able to combat depression, alleviate a variety of symptoms, and improve overall wellness.
The Importance of Sleep
Sleep is the body’s primary means of restoration. While we sleep, various activities occur in the brain and elsewhere that regenerate, reset, and rebalance many essential elements of health. Because of its powerful restorative effects, getting adequate sleep is a critical component of wellness.
Sleep is composed of five distinct stages. The deepest stage of sleep known as REM (rapid eye movement), which supports improved learning, memory, and better mental and emotional health. REM sleep is acquired only through extended and uninterrupted rest. Because of this, even minor interruptions or slightly reduced sleep duration can diminish sleep quality and negatively impact overall health. Disrupted or poor-quality sleep has a particularly strong effect on mood and mental health.
The Influence of Sleep of Mood
It is common for those who do not get the recommended amount of sleep (seven to nine hours a night) to experience symptoms such as moodiness, poor cognitive function, and malaise. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania conducted a study showing that participants who only slept for 4.5 hours a night for a seven-day period experienced greater amounts of stress, anger, sadness, and mental fatigue. Symptoms such as these can significantly impede daily life and contribute to more serious conditions. This is exemplified in a study composed of 10,000 adults, which showed that individuals with insomnia are five times more likely to develop depression.
In contrast to the effects of sleep on mood, studies suggest that patients with mood disorders such as anxiety, bipolar disorder, ADHD, and depression or more likely to experience significant sleep issues like insomnia, apnea, and restless leg syndrome. This is further evidenced through the approximated 50 to 80 percent of patients in psychiatric care who suffer from chronic sleep problems. The destructive relationship between mood and sleep disorders is problematic. As depression, anxiety, stress, and other mental issues worsen, so too does sleep quality, which further exacerbates these conditions thereby creating a cycle of declining health. Fortunately, it may be possible to break the pattern of degradation by adopting healthy lifestyle changes.
Improving Sleep Through Lifestyle Change
Patients who have difficulty getting adequate rest may find that making certain lifestyle changes and seeking proper care provides impressive benefits regarding their overall health. Even if there is no diagnosed sleep disorder, better sleep quality and duration can significantly improve overall wellness. The following suggestions may help improve sleep and alleviate symptoms of mood disorders such as depression and anxiety.
Eliminate Sleep-disrupting Substances
Alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine all contribute to insomnia and subsequent depression. Even though alcohol initially acts as a relaxant, the effects wear off after several hours and prompt disruption. Nicotine and caffeine are stimulants that increase heart rate and brain activity. Both can inhibit your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. The effects of these three substances contributes to inconsistent and interrupted sleep. Ideally, patients completely eliminate consumption of alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine but reducing intake may also be beneficial.
Engage in Healthy Exercise
Studies show that those who engage in healthy physical activity spend more time in deep sleep and are less likely to experiences interruptions of their sleep cycle. This is associated with greater refreshment and mental wellness. Other types of sleep-supporting physical activities include meditation, yoga, and stretching. Each of these practices help relax the mind and body. Taking part in activities focused on mindfulness and stretching are particularly beneficial for those who suffer from sleep-disrupting movement disorders such as restless leg syndrome.
Improve Your Sleep Environment
Identifying sleep disruptors and removing them from your environment can significantly improve sleep quality. Temperature, light, and sound all influence your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. Before going to bed, be sure that the room is maintained at a consistent and comfortable temperature throughout the night. Significant changes in temperature can reduce sleep quality or even interrupt sleep. Also, turn off any and all electronics that may emit unnecessary light or noise during the night. This includes tablets, computers, phones, and TVs. Turning off devices eliminates multiple sources of disruption that may interrupt sleep.
Try Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
It is common for those with depression, anxiety, or stress to have difficulty falling asleep. Individuals who have difficulty falling asleep for an extended period of time frequently develop a negative association with sleep itself. This can make the thought of sleep a source of anxiety for the patient that exacerbates the issue. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) aims to eliminate or alter negative associations to sleep. A major component of CBT is cognitive restructuring which helps participants take focus away from depressive thoughts and feelings that trigger their sleep inhibiting behaviors. Because of the strong link between sleep and mental health, CBT is often used to treat sleep and mood disorders at the same time.
Implement an All-Natural Sleep Aid
If you are regularly experiencing disrupted sleep, insomnia, or simply aren’t getting enough sleep, consider using a sleep aid. As with any supplement or sleep aid, be sure to speak with your doctor about dosage and any possible interactions before taking a new supplement or beginning a new treatment. We recommend HoltraCeuticals’ Sleep Tight. This supplement is an excellent sleep aid to manage common sleep inhibitors. Chamomile flower, one of the main ingredients, is a powerful herb frequently used to alleviate insomnia, restore the natural sleep cycle, and promote sensations of well-being. Part of the reason chamomile is such a strong relaxant is because it contains the compound apigenin. Research shows that this substance helps reduce locomotor activity while at rest. This is beneficial for those who frequently find themselves feeling fidgety and restless when trying to fall asleep. Chamomile also contains flavonoids, mucilage, and coumarins, which support relaxation, mental calmness, and promote better sleep.
Solving the Problem with Sleep
Mood, energy level, memory, and a myriad of other important bodily functions rely on quality sleep to work as intended. Sadly, many individuals suffer from interrupted and inconsistent sleep that contributes to the development of various symptoms and disorders. Resolving mood disorders and sleep issues may take some time. However, seeking the appropriate care and implementing healthy lifestyle changes such as those mentioned above, can provide notable benefits. Remember, prioritizing high quality sleep and getting an adequate amount every night is an important part of resolving mood disorders and improving overall wellness.
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