It’s no secret that getting a good night’s sleep makes us feel better. And there is now powerful evidence that sleep is important for our mental health as well as our physical health. Research shows that lack of sleep or not getting enough sleep may make people feel even worse when they are stressed.
Even though more research is needed to figure out how sleep and mental health are linked, we already know that sleep is important for several brain and body functions beyond increasing our mental health.
Sleep helps keep cognitive skills like attention, learning, and memory in good shape, allowing us to handle everyday stressors. It also helps us regulate our emotions and maintain a healthy weight. Operating with sleep deprivation can increase your risk for a variety of conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and a decreased immune system. Since sleep is when your body gets the chance to reset, you want to make sure you give it the best opportunity to do so.
You might wonder how much sleep is enough? The National Sleep Foundation states this is determined by age. Infants need as much as 14 to 17 hours, while adults between the ages of 26 to 64 need 7-9 hours.
Where and how you get your sleep is also important. Sleep in a comfortable room, free from distractions. Some people enjoy listening to a sound machine while they sleep, while others need the room to be dark. Whatever steps you need to get your best sleep, strive to work towards it each night.
There may be reasons you don’t hit your target of sleep hours each night but strive to be consistent. Staying up late all week to sleep in on the weekend doesn’t counterbalance the effects of not sleeping enough. Set a realistic schedule and try to stick with it most nights. After a few nights of good sleep, you will find you are in a better mood and have more energy. Pay attention to these effects as they roll over to other positive benefits.