September 27, 2021
Each year, Mental Health Awareness Week calls for us to check in on what boosts our feelings of well-being – and do more of it!
During the 27th September to 3rd October, we’re encouraged to shake our tough exteriors, open up and make time to kōrero with loved ones. By creating meaningful connections through conversation, we better understand each other and build invaluable communities.
While emotional connection is necessary for optimised health, what can often be overlooked is the foundation for mental balance; good and restful sleep.
Sleep is a proven cornerstone for good health and often, there are a few simple changes you can make to improve your snooze, which optimise overall health and wellbeing. The relationship between sleep and mental health is more intimate than some may think, and as part of our mission to lead the nation to sleep, we asked a specialist to weigh in.
To better understand the connection between our mental health and nightly kip, we share some pillow talk with Dan Ford, Sleep Psychologist at The Better Sleep Clinic.
When it comes to good mental health, preventative action is the best medicine, according to Ford. The prescription being a good 7-9 hour dose of quality sleep every night. Keep in mind quality over quantity, as extending your time in bed can be problematic if you’re not actually asleep. Studies show that sleep issues are a risk factor for developing mental health disorders; those experiencing insomnia are over eight times more likely to develop anxiety or depression, and over 17 times more likely to develop both anxiety and depression together. There’s also evidence that sleep problems increase the chance of developing other mental health disorders, and the severity to which they’re experienced.
But what if you simply can’t sleep?
If you’re struggling to get your 7-9 hours, firstly assess your sleep hygiene. Do a systems check on your body clock, daily physical activities and how you wind down each night. It’s also important to check out your sleep space; is it quiet, dark and a cool, comfortable temperature? If you’re beginning to feel like you’ve exhausted all options and sleep still doesn’t come naturally, a more serious sleep issue might be at hand, such as insomnia.
Once chronic insomnia develops, good sleep habits alone will no longer be sufficient; specialist treatment is required. The recommended course, according to Ford, is cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia—a drug-free approach, praised for how quickly and effectively it can treat insomnia. It’s also important to note that insomnia requires its own treatment. Once a mental health disorder has been treated, insomnia is unlikely to resolve on its own and raises the risk of relapse in such disorders.
When you’re waking up on the right side of the bed, it’s hard to deny the positive effects sleep can have on our health and wellbeing. Ford says, the research shows mounting evidence of sleep’s ability to boost our brain, heart and metabolic health, while also improving our intellectual and physical performance. Sleep is a key factor in many of our successes, however it can typically be the first thing to go when we find ourselves stressed, anxious or short on time. It’s a need that too many of us think of as a luxury.
At BedsRus, while we advocate for the difference a quality bed can make to your sleep, we also understand the impact of sleep issues on mental health, and the importance of escalating larger sleep concerns to medical professionals. The Better Sleep Clinic has many tools you can access from the comfort of your own home, including an online insomnia test and informative FAQs. This can help those concerned with their sleep habits recognise if professional treatment is the correct and right next step; The Better Sleep Clinic can help here too.
Sleep is the often undervalued, least acknowledged and lesser known member of the golden trio of health; nutrition, exercise and sleep. When it comes to optimized health, it’s as important as what fuels your body and how you look after it. We’ve been helping kiwis dream big for over 30 years, and big dreams start with better sleep so let us help you, be your best self, below the shoulders, and above.
Sleep should be a snooze fest and if it isn’t, it could be worthwhile seeking expert advice; It’s time to wake up to mental health.