Getting enough sleep is important for your mind and body…
7-9 hours of sleep a night is recommended to ensure our mind and bodies are getting sufficiently recharged at the end of every day. But, many of us are struggling to meet this target, and it is negatively impacting our lives.
What causes difficulty sleeping?
People can experience problems sleeping for a number of physical or mental reasons. One of the biggest and most common mental health related causes of sleeping difficulties is stress. Anxiety, stress, depression and worry can severely impact our ability to unwind and achieve a sufficient amount and quality of sleep.
When we’re stressed, our nervous system goes into an automatic protective mode called fight or flight; our in-built acute stress response. When our fight or flight mode is (subconsciously) activated, our body is filled with hormones and adrenaline, to enable us to either flee or fight a perceived threat. The stress induced release of hormones and other chemical reactions within our bodies can severely impact our ability to sleep.
Other factors that may contribute to a lack of sleep can include:
- Over-stimulation mentally, from things like technology, racing thoughts, exercising too late or excitement
- Too much caffeine throughout the day or too close to bed
- Poor diet (including sugary food and drinks too close to bedtime)
- Side-effects from prescription medication, illegal drugs or alcohol
- Lack of routine or consistent sleep schedule
- A sleep disorder or physical health condition
What are the effects of insufficient sleep?
Sleep allows our mind and body to rest and recharge, so a lack of sleep can have negative effects both physically and mentally. When we don’t get enough sleep, it can be difficult to function at full capacity, and this can have a negative impact on mental and physical health, effecting our family, work and personal lives.
What can I do about it?
Try to understand what might be causing your sleeping difficulties – is it mental or physical? If your sleeping problems are related to a physical health condition, it is important you consult your doctor and address the problem.
If you’re unable to sleep because of your mental health or mindset, you need to self-assess your mental health to know the most appropriate course of action. If you’re not coping and feeling extremely anxious, stressed, overwhelmed or depressed, please seek psychological assistance. Our Clinical Psychologist Renn Cheah has an interest in treating insomnia.
If you’re confident that your symptoms are minimal-mild and you can manage them with self-care, then try:
- Regular mindfulness (during stressful periods and even whilst at rest)
- Create routines for sleeping, eating, exercising, etc
- Cut back on caffeine intake and avoid it at least 4 hours before bed time
- Be conscious of your diet and decrease your sugar intake (particularly after dinner snacking)
- Avoid technology or too much mental stimulation before bed
Good luck and may you find sleep success!
Written by Lorraine Sindel