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The Role of Sleep in Maintaining Optimal Mental Health

Did you know we spend approximately a third of our lives asleep? 

You may not think sleep plays a role in your mental health, but sleeping is vital to repair and restore our brains. Sleep allows the brain to process information, consolidate memories, and undergo maintenance to help us function during the day.

A woman asleep in a gray bed.

Why Does Sleep Matter to Your Health?

Sleep is just as essential as eating, drinking, and breathing. Some health benefits of getting a good night’s sleep include better mood, improved energy levels, and stronger immunity against diseases. Poor sleep can lead to poor health, and poor health can make it harder to sleep. 

The Emerging Connection Between Sleep and Mental Health

A 2021 study found that improving sleep quality leads to better mental health, casually suggesting that sleep can relate to mental health difficulties. Multiple studies and scientists agree that more research needs to be conducted to understand the total relationship between sleep and mental health. 

Anxiety and depression are sometimes at the root of sleep problems. In such cases, a treatment for the mental health problem and sleep problem alongside each other produces the best effect.

For more information on the connection between sleep and mental health, read this article titled “Mental Health and Sleep” from The Sleep Foundation, which explores the impact of sleep on specific mental health disorders, such as anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, and more.

The Truth About Sleep Disorders

According to the Sleep Foundation, 10-15% of adults experience chronic insomnia. Insomnia, narcolepsy, and sleep apnea are just a few common sleep disorders. Sleep disorders cause problems with quality, timing, and amount of sleep at night. As a result, you may experience daytime irritability, distress, and poor cognitive function. Sleep-wake disorders are associated with medical or mental health conditions. 

A man sleeping with a heart monitor wristwatch.

What Can I Do To Improve My Sleeping Habits?

Simply getting the right amount of sleep is not enough. While some people need more sleep than others, depending on age, gender, and other factors, the quality of sleep is a key component. Stage 3 NREM sleep, or “deep sleep” is considered the most critical stage of sleep to regenerate the body and brain. This type of sleep lessens as we age.

Developing a sleep pattern (i.e., sleep hygiene) can help regulate sleeping habits, and establishing a routine (i.e., bedtime routine) around sleep leads to an easier and better overall sleep experience. Experiment with going to sleep at different times and use sleep tracking technology to monitor hours, quality, and additional metrics to customize a sleep schedule that works for you.

How Counseling Can Help You Sleep Better

Fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer with professional counseling. According to Columbia Psychiatry, “poor or insufficient sleep has been found to increase negative emotional responses to stressors and to decrease positive emotions.” 

Common issues such as anxiety and depression are often found at the root of sleep-related issues. Various cognitive approaches can help you uncover and replace unhealthy sleep-related thoughts, behaviors, and patterns with healthier attitudes and associations for an overall better outcome and sleep experience.

Learn More About Mental Health with Dr. Scott Lipp

Dr. Scott Lipp is a mental health counselor, educator, researcher, and leader based in Boca Raton, Florida. His strong clinical background and diverse skill set allow him to bring creative, successful solutions to the therapeutic environment. Learn more about his mental health research & scholarship.

Dr. Scott Lipp also owns and operates his own therapy practice, Atlantic Counseling for Empowerment, PLLC (ACE). Start sleeping better tonight with solution-focused therapy from a licensed mental health counselor!



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