10 Jan Good Sleep Habits Improve Mood, Energy, and Mental Health
Josephine S. Minardo, Psy.D. Licensed Clinical Psychologist
We’ve all been there. A bad night’s sleep, a rough morning, dragging throughout the day, feeling sluggish and unmotivated, maybe even irritable. And it can get worse. Affecting eating patterns, impacting our sleep the next night and the next, and sometimes it can throw off the entire week. Pretty soon those around us are noticing we aren’t quite ourselves.
Humans have their own built-in “body clock,” what we refer to as a “circadian rhythm,” which is a 24-hour cycle that tells our bodies when to sleep and when to wake. Our circadian rhythms are very sensitive and can be easily thrown off by variable work schedules, inconsistent bedtimes, and environmental cues. There is an abundance of research showing the connection between sleep and health, in general, such as the adverse health effects of poor sleep on our cardiovascular and metabolic systems and the higher risk of obesity. More specifically, poor sleep has been linked with higher incidence of mood disorders, like depression and bipolar disorder. So if you always thought a couple of bad nights of sleep wasn’t a big deal, think again!
When we don’t get enough sleep, or our sleep is poor, or interrupted, it can significantly affect how we feel. It can make us moody, irritable, or even feel down and depressed. We can start to skip healthy routines, like having a good breakfast, going to the gym, or even arriving to work on time. We can start snapping at loved ones or co-workers, feel foggy or inattentive, lose our concentration and become less productive. If we have busy lives, at work or at home, or we’re trying to balance both, life can become that much more challenging.
When our sleep is off, our mood is off, and while one of the symptoms of depression is poor sleep (too much or too little), even when we are not depressed, having a bad night, or consecutive bad nights of sleep, can lead to low or depressed mood. We just don’t feel like ourselves. Our thoughts are more negative; we may become more self-defeating or self-sabotaging; we can begin to cope in more maladaptive ways; we can even start to turn to very unhealthy activities in order to “pick us up,” like overeating, consuming too much caffeine, smoking, drinking, or even substance use, just to feel better.
We are hard-wired to need approximately 7 hours of sound uninterrupted sleep in order to function effectively, so it follows that if we don’t get the right amount, or the best quality of sleep, our body, and our mind (read:mood) will let us know it. So how do we stop this negative cycle, and even more importantly, prevent this from happening in the first place? Following these simple steps will help.
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