World Mental Health Day is a day designated to recognising the importance of mental health. It’s held each and every year on 10 October (1). 2023’s theme (chosen by the World Foundation of Mental Health) is ‘Mental health is a universal human right’. And we couldn’t have said it better ourselves.
World Mental Health Day focuses on raising awareness of mental health with hopes of making a positive impact on the mental health of each and every person. It gives us a unique opportunity to talk about mental health too.
So, while discussing how to look after our mental health, and the importance of seeking help if you are struggling here at eve HQ, we felt it was our responsibility to dive into the links between mental health and sleep.
And our research turned up plenty of links between mental health and sleep! Read on to learn how getting a good night’s sleep could help to give you a mood boost in the mornings. And find out why bad mental health could be what’s preventing you from getting the sleep you need too. Plus, we’ll look at some tips to try out at home to help you secure a better night’s sleep.
depression and sleeping: how are they linked?
Unfortunately, issues related to sleep and depression are closely linked. Someone suffering from a sleep disorder could be at much higher risk of developing depression than someone else who manages to achieve a restful night’s sleep. And reports suggest that 75% of people suffering with depression struggle to fall and/or stay asleep (2).
But neither depression, nor sleep issues or disorders are uncommon. It’s suggested that around 1 in 6 adults in the UK are currently suffering from depression (3). And as many as 1 in 5 adults in the UK are experiencing difficulties relating to their sleep (4). So, if you’re currently suffering from either or both, know that you are not alone.
That said, given the links between mental health and sleep, it can feel like one of those “impossible to break” cycles at times. Especially for anyone who’s in the thick of it.
sleep deprivation: why can a lack of sleep impact our mental health?
Essentially, when we get the right amount of sleep, our brains work as they should. So, while you're busy catching flies, your brain is working hard preparing for the next day (5).
Many studies have given us evidence to support suggestions that a good night's sleep improves attention, creativity and problem-solving skills (6). It’s also essential for decision making. Without the right amount of sleep, we are much more prone to making snap decisions that pose risks (7).
Studies have also indicated that a lack of sleep alters the activity in some parts of our brains. So, if you’re suffering from a lack of sleep, you could find it more difficult to make decisions, solve problems, control your emotions, and deal with change (8). Sleep deficiency (or a lack of sleep) is also linked to mental health issues including depression and suicide (9).
anxiety: can a lack of sleep make it worse?
In 2020, a study in China looked at nearly 4,000 people aged 60+ (10). This particular study found that the subjects suffering from a lesser sleep quality and duration were at higher risk of suffering from anxiety.
While this study didn’t actually confirm whether it was a lack of sleep that causes anxiety, or the other way around, it did provide further evidence that the two conditions are connected.
sleep and mental health: how can a better night’s sleep have a positive impact?
Who hasn’t heard the phrase “you’ll feel better after a good night’s sleep” at least once in their life? Well, it’s true – to some extent at least. And when we’re surging on while lacking in sleep, things can be a bit foggy. And we can be downright grumpy.
Poor quality or less sleep than you need could increase negative emotional responses to life’s stressors. And so, achieving a better night’s sleep has the potential to reduce those negative vibes and give your morning mood a boost.
At present, more research is needed to fully understand the connection between our sleep and our mental health. Sleep is integral to a number of daily brain and body functions that help with processing events, as well as regulating our emotions and the way we behave (11).
But, studies seem to indicate that improved sleep can lead to improved mental health (12). So, how can we improve our quality of life to enhance our mental wellbeing? Let’s find out.
tips to help improve sleep and benefit from better mental health
Here are our top tips to help you secure a better night’s sleep and improve your mental health at the same time:
- Create a consistent sleep routine. When it comes to sleep, consistency is key. Try to go to bed at the same time each night and get out of bed at the same time each morning. This includes weekends (13).
- Address your bedroom. Your bedroom should be optimised for sleep. Ensure it’s quiet, dark, relaxing, and comfortable in temperature for sleep (14).
- Banish technology. Everyday electronic devices like TVs, laptops, and smart phones, should be kept out of the bedroom (15).
- Think about meal times. Ideally you want to avoid eating large meals, or consuming caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime. Doing so will affect digestion which could lead to sleep disturbances (16).
- Regular exercise. By engaging in exercise and physical activity during the day, you could find that you’re able to fall asleep faster at night.
- Consider a new mattress. If you’ve had your current mattress for 7+ years, or it’s showing sign of wear – either visible or invisible – it could be time for an upgrade. Explore the eve sleep mattress collection and find the right fit for your needs and budget.
If you’re reading this and thinking “that sounds like me” please don’t delay. Talk to someone. Friends, family members, and your GP are only ever a phone call away.