How to fix your sleep and mental health during difficult times?
With the coronavirus pandemic, we´re facing challenges that we´ve never imagined before. Suddenly, restrictive measures had to be taken all over the world to stop the virus from spreading.
We´ve lost our liberty to do the things we love and to spend time with our family and friends. This, together with the fear of getting the disease, of losing someone close, and concerns about the economic consequences of the pandemic, is a full plate for anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues.
If you identify with this scenario, you´ll agree that having so much on your mind can be unfavorable for a good night of sleep. Conversely, sleep loss can also affect your mental health. So how will you get out of this endless loop?
How does the loss of sleep affect your mental health?
Sleeping less than necessary can significantly impair your physical and mental health. Loss of sleep decreases your energy levels, it makes you moody, depressed, and demotivated.
The relation between sleep and mood is well known by researchers worldwide. People who suffer from insomnia are more likely to develop mood disorders. Besides that, people who suffer from sleep apnea (sleep disturbance which causes frequent awakenings during the night), has 5 times more chances of developing depression.
You may have noticed that sleep restriction affects your mood, but did you know that the contrary is also true? Altered sleep patterns are associated with several mental illnesses. For this reason, it is very important to seek medical advice when you notice that something unusual is happening with your sleep.
Relationship between sleep and mood disorders
People who tend to revolve around problems and negative thoughts in bed are more likely to develop insomnia. Depression leads to sleep fragmentation, making you extremely tired, even if you have spent the whole day in bed.
This is why it´s very important to try to disconnect from the problems, negative thoughts, and fears, especially near bedtime. It´s not that easy, but it´s worth trying.
How can you improve your sleep quality during difficult times?
Treating depression and anxiety symptoms will definitely help. Practicing sleep hygiene is a great way to go either. You can follow this guide below (Absono):
- Go to bed and wake up at regular times
- Go to bed only when you´re feeling sleepy
- Don’t use your bed to eat, read or watch TV (Use the bed only for sleeping).
- Avoid being in bed without sleeping. If necessary, do a quiet activity, and try it again.
- Establish a calming ritual before going to sleep, such as meditating, taking a hot shower, or dimming the room lights.
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine at least 6 hours before bed
- Do not eat near bedtime.
- Avoid taking naps during the day.
- Try being busy during the day
- Exercise regularly and avoid heavy exercise at the end of the day. Prefer light exercise, such as walking at least 4 hours before bed.
Remember: sleep disorders are a serious problem, and can affect your overall health. Always seek specialized medical counseling before starting any treatment.