The Single Most Important Factor for your Mental Health

July 5, 2013

sleep and mental health

by Mark Kislich

What is it? Good, healthy, deep sleep. If you’re looking for a magic solution to improve your life…well: this is it!

Sleep is grossly underestimated in it’s importance for a productive, happy life and for a sound, balanced mind.

The statement “You can sleep when you’re dead.” is typical, and complete nonsense. It’s more like “If you don’t sleep properly, you’ll not live properly.”

Think I exaggerate? Look at a small child. What happens when they’re tired? They get cranky, they cry. Well, the same goes for adults. They might not cry (or they might), but given a lack of sleep, even the most positive people will eventually get sour. A tired person is a frustrated person, then -if the sleep deprivation continues- depression can set in.

This is not just an opinion: serotonin is an important neurotransmitter tied to sleep and mood. So it looks like good sleep and good mood are intimately related. Well what’s new.

“When you’re tired, you get wired” Sleep problems often result in a nervous, jittery kind of behavior, especially when the tiredness is temporarily offset by caffeine.

People who can’t stop talking and pacing around are likely very tired and running on coffee. This is also the time when anxiety sets in. “Why did they look at me like that?”, or: “They didn’t have to say it like THAT!”…

If you ever found yourself feeling like this -overly sensitive to others and your surroundings, taking everything very personally- you’ve probably been sleep deprived.

As if all the above was not bad enough, clumsiness and reduced reflexes increase the risk for accidents and injury.

Positive thinking and motivation are seriously hampered by lack of quality sleep.

OK enough of the bad stuff, here’s the good news: you can do a whole lot to fix this and ensure a perfect slumber every time. Following are a few tried and proven tips that will help you do just that.

Always Wake Up at the Same Time
Regularity is important: even when you had a late night (which should be avoided wherever possible), try and get up when the bell rings anyway. In the long run this is better than over sleeping and ruining your circadian rhythm for it.

In that Vein: Go to Bed at the Same Time

After a while your internal clock will be so fine tuned, you fall asleep on cue and wake up without an alarm clock.

Try to avoid Daylight and Artificial Light during Sleeping Hours

In Scandinavia, the midnight sun can cause problems. Other places, the TV and electric lights do about the same: Your body’s sleeping patterns get disturbed by it, melatonin production is reduced (an important hormone related to sleep).

Keep It Quiet

There should be no noise at all whatsoever, total silence is what you want. If that’s not an option, a good pair of ear plugs can come to the rescue.

Wind Down towards the Evenings

Exercising too close to bed time can jack up cortisol and ruin your night. Do something relaxing instead: a nice walk in the evening, some Yoga, a massage, a hot bath.

Here’s some herbals that can help you relax:  Fever few, Reishi, Wild Lettuce.

Get into Physical Training

Having said that you shouldn’t train too close to bed, doing some exercise during the day can sure help get rid of steam, get in shape and you’ll be nice and tired at the end of the day.

Take some Magnesium

Magnesium is an important mineral that many are deficient in. It’s involved hundreds of biological functions and also helps muscles -and you- to relax. Best taken in the evening.

Meditate

Like I said above, it helps to wind down at nights. Meditation can calm your mind, so that brain won’t keep you thinking and worrying through those valuable sleeping hours.

Don’t Drink Coffee too Late in the Day

Coffee can stay in the blood for around 12 hours, so that’s a good time frame to shoot for: if you go to bed at midnight, have the last cup of coffee at lunch.

 

Remember the last time you woke up in the morning, all by your self -no need for an alarm clock- and you were totally refreshed and recuperated, ready to take on a new day?

The world looks a better place when we’re well rested. A positive mindset and a positive outlook on life – require one thing, more than anything else: good, deep, beautiful sleep. Don’t let anybody ever tell you otherwise!

P.S.

This is not about being selfish, and most definitely not about being lazy. If you’re cranky, you and those around you only suffer. That’s a lose-lose.

So do yourself and your family and friends and coworkers a great, huge, great big favor…and sleep well.

 

Author Bio: Mark Kislich is an Olympic Performance Coach and Fitness and Health Blogger. He helps people find appropriate solutions for their fitness and health issues.

Image Credit: Mark Sebastian