How does sleep quality affect our mental health?
You’ve probably noticed how significantly mood changes when you don’t get a good night’s sleep – usually, we become irritable, impulsive and find it harder to get along with others. There is a reason why the expression “got out of bed on the wrong side” is used to describe a bad mood – there is some truth to it, as sleep and mental and emotional health are closely linked. And when sleep disturbances are experienced over a prolonged period, they can not only harm mood but can also lead to a variety of diseases. Research has shown that poor sleep quality is directly linked to conditions such as depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. So what are the most common causes of sleep problems, what are their symptoms and what can we do to get a good night’s sleep?
Sleep problems can be caused by many reasons
Occasional sleep deprivation is a common experience for everyone, but when the lack of quality sleep persists over extended periods, it can lead to more significant issues. Sleep problems are not just about insomnia – difficulty falling asleep and waking up, frequent nightmares, fatigue and drowsiness in the mornings, and even sleeping for too long are all symptoms of sleep disorders.
These and other sleep disorders can be caused by stress and anxiety during the day, an uncomfortable mattress or a room temperature that is not suitable for sleeping (either too cold or too hot), certain medications, alcohol, shift work, injuries, poor physical health, and mental health problems. Research shows that the relationship between sleep and mental health is reciprocal – mental health problems make it difficult to get a good night’s sleep, and inadequate sleep can contribute to the onset or worsening of mental health issues.
An analysis of several different studies found that people with insomnia are twice as likely to develop depression than those without sleep problems.
Consequences of poor sleep
Sleep deprivation not only leads to a lack of energy and productivity but can also have other negative consequences that interfere with daily activities. One of these is the feeling of confusion and inability to concentrate, also known as ‘brain fog’. If you haven’t had enough sleep, you may feel dizzy and it can be more difficult to find the right words to say.
Also, sleep disturbances can make you feel more irritable, angry, depressed, and lonely. This is because the brain cannot function normally when you are sleep deprived, which means that it cannot suppress the reactivity of the emotional center of the brain. Sleep deprivation also makes us less resilient to stress and can make it difficult to cope with even minor stressful situations.
Changes in your mood can be accompanied by changes in your behavior. Sleep deprivation can lead to increased impulsivity, hyperactivity, emotional outbursts, difficulties in planning and decision-making, and difficulties in communicating with other people. Sleep deprivation can also lead to illness – research has shown that it is linked to heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Tips to improve sleep quality
- Stick to your sleep schedule. Whenever possible, go to bed and get up at the same time every day and get at least 7 hours of sleep. It is also important not to oversleep – more than 8 hours of sleep can also harm your health.
- Do not engage in any intense activity before going to bed. Relax. For example, read a book, listen to soft music, take a warm bath, or meditate. After a while, you will feel tired and it will be easier to fall asleep.
- Avoid alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine in the evening. The stimulating effects of nicotine and caffeine wear off within a few hours and can disturb sleep, while alcohol can only temporarily make you feel drowsy – it can also disturb sleep later.
- Pay attention to what you eat and drink. It is not recommended to go to bed hungry or overate. Avoid heavy, sugary foods and drinks, as well as fatty and spicy foods at least a few hours before going to bed – they are harder to digest and can cause discomfort and prevent you from falling asleep.
- Take nutritional supplements to help improve sleep quality. You can try Alver’s “Golden Zen”, a microalgae supplement for calm and sleep. Fermented, dried microalgae – Golden Chlorella – reduces the effects of stress, symptoms of depression, and anxiety. “Golden Zen” supplements contain saffron (Crocus sativus) extract to help maintain normal mental health, relaxation, and a positive mood, while Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus) root extract helps maintain normal sleep. It is also supplemented with vitamins B6 and B12, which help to reduce feelings of tiredness and fatigue and maintain normal psychological function.
Golden Chlorella is also rich in carotenoids, which are substances found in vegetables and fruits that are beneficial to health. The carotenoids lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene, which are abundant in golden chlorella, have been scientifically proven to reduce symptoms of depression and improve mood and sleep. Carotenoids also have a neuroprotective effect, increasing the resistance of cells to various negative factors and stimulating the process of neurogenesis, which is the formation of new neurons in the brain, responsible for the longevity of the body.
- Don’t use electronic devices and dim the lights for at least an hour before bedtime. Turning on the lights at night sends a signal to our brains that it’s still daytime. This leads to a decrease in the production of hormones such as melatonin, which helps us relax and fall into a deep sleep. One of the most damaging is blue light from smartphones, computers, and other devices.
- Spend time outdoors during the day and get some exercise. Your body needs to get natural daylight, and regular exercise will make you feel tired, which will help you fall asleep more easily and get a better quality night’s sleep.
- Choose a comfortable mattress. When choosing a mattress, it’s important to consider your body weight – the heavier your body weight, the firmer should be the mattress. It’s also important to consider your health when choosing a mattress – allergies, pain in the lumbar region, excessive sweating, joint and bone pain, and other health problems.
- Create a calm sleeping environment. Avoid bright lights and sounds that disturb the peace, and pay attention to the temperature of the bedroom – the optimum temperature for this space should be around 20 degrees Celsius.