Getting a full, quality night of sleep can boost your mood and help you face the next day with energy and focus. Sleep has a direct correlation with our mental health. Those who do not get adequate sleep each night are 10 times as likely to develop major depression than those who sleep through the night. This can create a cycle that is hard to break, because depression also has a negative effect on sleep patterns. It has been estimated that 90% with depression complain about sleep quality.
In addition to sleep affecting our mental health, it affects our physical health. Even a small loss of sleep has been shown to impair immune function. Sleep is actually the time when your body gets busy restoring and repairing different functions. According to Mayo Clinic, people who do not sleep enough each night get less protection from the flu vaccines and are more likely to catch the common cold. Your immune system relies on sleep to be able to fight harmful bacteria and viruses. During sleep, your body produces more white blood cells that attack these bacteria and viruses that can hinder the healing process. When you do not get enough sleep, your immune system is not able to properly protect the body from infection.
Another consequence of poor sleep habits is inflammation. While inflammation be present for numerous reasons, including many autoimmune diseases, sleep loss is known to activate undesirable markers of inflammation and cell damage. During sleep, the body releases hormones that can slow breathing and relax other muscles in the body. This process can reduce inflammation and assist with healing.
Now that we’ve talked about some of the reasons why sleep is important, let’s figure out how to get a quality night’s sleep. Healthy sleep habits start long before bedtime. During the day, especially as bedtime nears, limiting blue light exposure can help you relax and get better sleep. Blue light is the light that electronic devices like smartphones and computers emit in large amounts. This kind of light tricks your brain into thinking it is still daytime, which reduces hormones like melatonin that aid sleep. To avoid blue light you can wear blue light blocking glasses which are available for inexpensive online, install blue light blocking apps on your electronic devices, and/or stop using electronic devices two hours before heading to bed.
As bedtime approaches, begin your relaxation routine. Making your room dark, quiet, and a cool temperature can help you to relax and fall asleep quicker. Essential oils like lavender, vanilla, and jasmine can also aid in relaxation. It is important to go to sleep and wake up at consistent times, even during the weekends. Studies have shown that irregular sleep patterns can alter your circadian rhythm and levels of melatonin, which signals your brain to sleep.
Contributing Writer: Madison Skipper, Daybreaker Solutions