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What You Need to Know About Sleep and Mental Health

Just about everyone has experienced the difference in how they feel after a full night’s rest as opposed to a night that they spent tossing and turning, and hardly getting any sleep. After all, there’s a reason the saying “woke up on the wrong side of the bed” exists!

While it isn’t unusual to feel fatigued and irritable after a poor night’s sleep, what many people fail to realize is just how much their sleep can affect their mental and emotional well being if this becomes an ongoing trend.

Whether the result of poor sleep hygiene or a sleep disorder such as insomnia or sleep apnea, if you are frequently unable to get enough rest at night, your mental health will suffer. Here’s what you should know.

How Poor Sleep Can Affect Your Mental Health

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During a healthy night of sleep, your body goes through several sleep stages. This includes NREM (non rapid eye movement sleep), and REM (rapid eye movement sleep), when most dreaming occurs. It generally takes at least an hour and a half to go through a full sleep cycle, after which, the body goes through these stages again.

Getting through each stage of sleep helps your brain process thoughts and memories. REM sleep, in particular, is believed to be when the brain evaluates and consolidates positive emotional content. If the brain isn’t able to go through all of these sleep stages, it has a direct negative influence on your mental and emotional health. Some studies have even linked suicidal thoughts with declining mental health tied to a lack of sleep.

The longer someone experiences disrupted sleep (and the worse the disruptions are), the greater the consequences to their mental and emotional well-being. Identifying and addressing the reasons behind poor sleep is vital for improving mental health.

How Mental Health Challenges Can Affect Your Sleep Quality

person looking out through window

A unique aspect regarding sleep and mental health is that they have what is considered a “bidirectional relationship.” Poor sleep can contribute to mental health challenges. However, specific mental health problems can also make it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep.

For example, 75 percent of individuals with depression experience insomnia, while others suffer from hypersomnia or daytime sleepiness. This poor sleep further worsens depression, which in turn leads to additional sleep interruptions. Anxiety can have a similar impact, with worry and racing thoughts keeping individuals from being able to fall asleep at night. Some even develop anxiety about going to sleep.

Other specific mental health conditions, such as PTSD, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder, can also contribute to insomnia and other forms of sleep disruption. While therapy or medication may be needed to address the disorder, understanding the role poor sleep has on an individual’s condition — or how their condition is affecting their sleep — is also important for improving overall well-being.

What Can You Do?

person wearing lavatory gown with green stethoscope on neck using phone while standing

The relationship between sleep and mental health challenges is complex. But this doesn’t mean it is impossible to address. Your first step should be to meet with a qualified healthcare professional to discuss your symptoms — both your trouble sleeping, as well as any mental or emotional challenges you’re dealing with.

As part of this process, your physician may recommend that you undergo a sleep study. During a sleep study, you spend the night at a facility where specialists can monitor your brainwaves, breathing pattern, heart rate, and other vital signs while you are asleep. This gives them vital insights into whether a sleep disorder such as obstructive sleep apnea is contributing to your unhealthy sleep patterns. This information can be used to prescribe specific treatments or therapy, such as using a CPAP machine to treat sleep apnea.

Taking steps to improve your sleep hygiene can also make a big difference. Basic practices such as having a set bedtime each night, keeping your bedroom dark and quiet, and avoiding electronics before bedtime can make it much easier to fall asleep.

Relaxing activities such as taking a warm shower, meditating, writing in a journal, or practicing yoga, can help you destress and help you feel ready for sleep.

Of course, if you are diagnosed with a mental health disorder, you should also follow any specific treatment recommendations for your condition. This could include cognitive behavioral therapy (also known as “talk therapy”), or a prescription for medication. Follow these guidelines as you strive to establish healthier sleep habits. Continue to check in with your doctor to report your progress — especially if you aren’t sleeping better or feeling better.

Need Sleep Equipment? No Insurance Medical Supplies Can Help

If your poor sleep and declining mental health are attributed to a sleep disorder such as obstructive sleep apnea, getting appropriate medical equipment to manage the condition should be a top priority. While a CPAP machine can go a long way in mitigating the harmful effects of sleep apnea, there is no denying that the cost of the equipment and accessories can be a financial burden, particularly for those without health insurance.

This is where No Insurance Medical Supplies comes in. We offer a wide range of CPAP supplies, from CPAP machines to replacement filters and sanitizing equipment. Many of these products are available at significant discounts off MSRP, and financing is available for purchases of $500 or more to make payments more manageable.

With quality CPAP equipment, you can control sleep apnea and get the quality rest you need to feel your best — physically, mentally, and emotionally — each day.


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