Insomnia and Mental Health—The Link


Insomnia and Mental Health—The Link


There have always been talks about whether poor quality sleep leads to mental health problems or if the reverse is always the case.

Many researchers have tried to answer the question for years, but their methods often have limitations.

Fortunately, a new study has thrown more light on the topic.

The link between poor quality sleep and mental illness is bidirectional.


The bidirectional link between insomnia and mental illness

According to the study, which is the largest of its kind, people living with a mental disorder are more likely to have insomnia than the general population.

The research was led by Dr. Michael Wainberg of the Krembil Centre for Neuroinformatics.

"The relationship between sleep and mental health is bi-directional," said Wainberg. "Poor sleep contributes to poor mental health, and poor mental health contributes to poor quality sleep."

The researchers discovered that poor quality sleep patterns were a feature of all mental disorders they studied regardless of the type.

For instance, someone with a mental illness may wake up more often and have trouble going back to sleep.

At the same time, if you're sleep-deprived, you're more likely to feel stressed, anxious, and even suicidal. Poor quality sleep can also trigger mania, psychosis, paranoia, and worsen existing symptoms.

The link is thus: When you get less sleep, you may feel mentally drained, frustrated, and anxious. These issues can make you lose even more sleep. And the more sleep you lose, the more the stress, depression, or mania worsens. It goes on and on, like a cyclic chain.

But in the midst of it all, making conscious choices to improve your sleep quality can help.


Ways to get better sleep

1.      Make your space more relaxing and sleep-inducing

The condition of your bedroom can influence how easy it is for you to fall asleep. Ensure your mattress and beddings are comfortable. It's also helpful to use dim, ambient lighting rather than accent light in your bedroom. Red lights promote sleep better than blue lights, so they're more suited for bedrooms.


2.      Have a bedtime routine

One effective way to promote better sleep is to have a bedtime routine and respect it. For example, you may go to bed every 10:30 pm.

Your body naturally works like clockwork (the circadian rhythm). The same way you feel hungry at about the same time daily is how you'll feel sleepy at a regular time when your body adjusts to that routine.


3.      Try mindfulness meditation

Many studies suggest that mindfulness meditation can alleviate chronic insomnia and improve sleep quality. It also helps in stress relief, reducing anxiety, improving cognition, and increasing body satisfaction. Practicing mindfulness meditation is one way to go if you're looking to improve sleep quality while battling mental issues.


4.      Avoid caffeine at night

Caffeine found in many beverages tends to prevent sleep until they wear off. So it's advisable to avoid taking coffee or tea a few hours before bedtime.


Get medical help

If you've tried all you could and it seems nothing works, it's time to see a doctor. They can offer you prescription pills or suggest psychotherapy to discover the underlying issues that prevent you from sleeping better.

Satu H. Woodland, PMHCNS-BC, APRN Satu H. Woodland, PMHCNS-BC, APRN Satu Woodland is owner and clinician of Hope Mental Health, an integrative mental health practice located at Bown Crossing in Boise, Idaho. She sees children, adolescents, and adults.  Ms. Woodland with her background in nursing, prefers a holistic and integrative approach to mental health care that addresses the mind and body together. While Ms. Woodland provides medication management services in all her patients, she believes in long-lasting solutions that include a number of psychotherapies, namely cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure and response prevention therapy, attention to lifestyle, evidenced based alternative psychiatric care and spirituality. If you’d like to gain control over your mental health issues, call Hope Mental Health at 208-918-0958, or use the online scheduling tool to set up an initial consultation.

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