How Sleep Can Improve Your Mood and Well-being
Getting enough restorative sleep is crucial for our mental and physical health. That’s why in this article, we’ll explore how prioritising sleep can improve your mood and overall well-being, alongside practical tips for creating a sleep-friendly environment and routine.
Ready to boost your mental health and banish your sleep woes for good? Keep reading and we’ll show you how…
Adults need about 6-9 hours of sleep each night. To maintain proper cognitive function and perform a range of other processes in the body, your brain goes through several different stages of sleep. This includes two light stages of sleep, deep sleep and REM sleep.
Symptoms of poor sleep
Whilst being able to tell whether you’ve had enough sleep or not may seem straightforward, it’s far more difficult to tell if you've had a quality night's sleep - making things like sleep disorders hard to detect and diagnose.
Those suffering from a sleep disorder such as insomnia or sleep apnea may have some tell-tale signs of sleep deprivation, such as:
Feeling sluggish, drowsy or exhausted during the day
Finding it hard to concentrate on day-to-day tasks
Falling asleep immediately after lying down
Needing an alarm clock to wake you up
Problems with short-term memory
Falling asleep during the day or needing extra naps
So whilst some people may think they get a good night’s sleep just because they slept for 8 hours, waking up feeling exhausted or struggling to concentrate during the day may suggest otherwise.
It’s worth noting, however, that many of these symptoms can cross over with mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety, and sleep and mood problems often create a vicious cycle. If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms, consult with a medical professional to rule out any other underlying causes.
How sleep can boost your mood & wellbeing
Helps prevent the poor-sleep, poor-mood cycle
If you don’t get enough good-quality sleep, it can leave you feeling drowsy and irritable. If you have a chronic issue with sleep, this, in turn, can begin to cause mental health problems like stress and depression.
We have looked at the problems not getting enough sleep can cause, from feeling irritable and stressed to struggling with day-to-day life. So, getting a good night’s sleep naturally helps to prevent those issues and boost your mood.
When your body is sleep deprived, it releases more stress hormones such as cortisol, which can lead to feelings of anxiety and irritability during the day. In order to manage stress and stop it from becoming a problem, it’s crucial to enable your body to get the rest it needs.
Good quality sleep can also better equip you to deal with day-to-day challenges more effectively and calmly, from working towards study deadlines to caring for a young family.
Improves your mood
Sleep is essential for mood regulation. Your brain performs several functions at night, such as processing information gathered during the day and sorting and storing memories. Processing this information helps you wake up the next day with a clear head and plenty of energy, which can boost your mood.
We all know the knock-on effect waking up on the wrong side of the can have, from feeling grumpy and moody to snapping at those around you. But with a good night’s kip, you’re putting your best foot forward by starting the day feeling refreshed.
Boosts cognitive function
Sleep is essential for learning and performing at work or school because your brain uses this time to process and retain information. Those who miss out on enough REM sleep may find themselves getting forgetful or finding it difficult to concentrate, which can cause havoc with cognitive function.
To improve your concentration, memory and ability to take in new information, you should make quality sleep a priority.
How to improve your sleep
We’ve discussed the downsides of not getting enough kip along with the benefits of a restful night, so let’s take a look at a few easy ways to boost your sleep.
Take time to de-stress
One of the most important things you can do for your mental health, and to increase the chance of a decent night’s sleep, is to dedicate time to wind down and relax.
Take the time to identify all the things that are causing you stress in your life - a great place to start is by jotting down the thoughts that keep you awake after your head hits the pillow.
Many find a sleep journal very useful to banish stress, as you can write down all of the thoughts and ‘to-do’s' that keep you awake, close the journal and not pay attention to them until the following day.
Improve your sleep environment
In the modern world, it’s common that bedrooms double as offices, study rooms or entertainment centres. Whilst this helps with daytime convenience, it can be detrimental when trying to get a good night's rest.
Many other environmental factors can disturb your rest, such as noise from the traffic outside, or sunlight leaking in through the curtains in the early hours. To improve your bedroom environment, you should ensure that:
Your bedroom is clean and free from dust and clutter
Bedding and soft furnishings are clean and dust-free
Your pillows are correctly supporting your head, and your pillowcases are clean and hygienic silk pillowcases can also help to regulate your temperature)
There are no blue-light emitting screens turned on (such as TVs, phones or monitors - even smart alarm clocks or photo-frame screens)
Your mattress isn’t making you uncomfortable or harbouring dirt and allergens
The bedroom room is quiet, dark, cool, calm and peaceful
- Try adding some white noise to help your brain relax
Your bedroom is your sanctuary, and it’s important that your brain recognises that this space is only for sleeping and relaxing. If you struggle to regulate your temperature at night, ensure you’re using the right bedding for the time of year, or consider a more breathable bedding material such as cotton, linen or silk.
Create a nighttime routine
Ensuring a great night's sleep starts hours before you go to bed. If you’re the sort of person that is all-go right up until they go to sleep, it’s understandable that your brain might find it difficult to lose that energetic momentum.
Take the time to plan a wind-down routine and get in the habit of practising it each night, you can dedicate anywhere from 30 minutes to half an hour, whatever fits with your schedule. Whilst 2 hours is better than half an hour, set a realistic routine that you will be able to stick to.
Choose some relaxing, soothing activities - such as drinking hot camomile tea, taking a warm bubble bath, reading a book, light stretching, meditating or listening to calming music. You could also make sleep journaling part of your nighttime routine to further aid in banishing stress.
Now you know why sleep is so vital for cognitive function, how it can improve your mood, and easy ways to get some quality shut-eye. Now - go and catch some Z’s….