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Like gas for your car, sleep is the fuel your brain needs to function well.
A good night’s rest can make a big difference after a long day, but did you know that your sleep patterns also can affect your broader mental health? There is a strong link between the two. Research shows that 50 to 80% of people with mental health concerns also have sleep difficulties.
“Good sleep and mental health are closely related,” says Marlene E Dietrich, MD, medical director of PeaceHealth’s Sleep Center in Vancouver, Washington. “Poor sleep can greatly impact our mental health, and depression, anxiety and other conditions can lead to difficulty sleeping.”
To develop better sleep habits, you may want to consider making a few changes. These could include adjusting the light or setup of your bedroom, doing relaxation exercises, sticking to a schedule and avoiding certain foods.
Sleep is your mind’s time to rest and recharge. Just like a car needs gas to run, your brain needs sleep to work at its full potential. Poor sleep quality tends to make you feel more sad, irritable, stressed and angry. It’s also related to mental health issues, including the risk of suicidal ideas or behaviors. Untreated sleep apnea can also negatively affect mood and memory and is linked to an increased risk of dementia.
When we sleep, our brain activity goes through several stages that are essential in allowing different parts of the brain to rest. The brain evaluates and stores your thoughts and memories, and a lack of sleep harms this process. REM (rapid eye movement) sleep helps your brain process emotional information. It’s essential for functions like memory, learning and creativity. Delta sleep (deep sleep) is also important for brain function and memory, as well as for regulating your metabolism, which can make you less tired.
The average adult needs seven or more hours of sleep to support good health. Nearly 40% of Americans get less than that, though. How do your sleep habits compare? Take our sleep quiz for a deeper look at your patterns. If you’re concerned about your results, reach out to your primary care provider or make an appointment at one of PeaceHealth’s Sleep Centers.
“Take a look at your sleeping habits and patterns,” says Dr. Dietrich. “Stress reduction or mindfulness exercises like deep breathing, stretching or yoga can help relax your body and decrease anxiety, allowing you to fall and stay asleep.”
Consider what you can do to have better sleep habits. The following tips can help you reduce sleep disruptions.
There is a close tie between depression and insomnia. People who have trouble sleeping have a higher chance of developing depression. And 75% of people who have depression also have difficulty sleeping.
If you are concerned about either of these issues, PeaceHealth offers many resources to help. Talk to your primary care provider to see if our sleep studies, counseling or behavioral health services are right for you.