Another great guest-post by Jennifer Scott
Nothing is better than feeling refreshed after a good night’s sleep.
Unfortunately, many of us are quite familiar with sleep deprivation and its harmful effects. The Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School states sleep is crucial to our health, but it’s still widely misunderstood.
What happens if you don’t get enough quality sleep? In addition to feeling groggy and grumpy, you may experience effects on both your physical and mental health. Let’s talk about the importance of sleep, and some steps you can take to make sure you get enough of it.
Your Mattress vs. Your Sleep Quality
Know that you’re not alone if you deal with mental health issues that are exacerbated by poor sleep or sleep issues that negatively impact your mental health. These issues are serious and require medical assistance, but there are things you can do that are under your control.
Other causes of bad sleep are practical, such as dealing with physical pain or owning a bad mattress. In these cases, shopping for a new mattress may pay off immediately. The AARP explains that a new mattress won’t fix all your physical or mental health-related issues; however sleeping on an old mattress can worsen back problems, for example.
Even if you don’t notice any physical health issues right now, it’s a good idea to shop around for a new mattress if you’ve had yours for a decade or longer. Buying a new mattress is a big investment, and there are many types of mattresses to choose from nowadays. Beyond soft vs. firm, you can choose from traditional springs or even memory foam.
Visiting a mattress store can feel intimidating, but a bed-in-a-box might be a good option for the timid. For starters, you can buy these types of mattresses online and they’re made out of materials such as memory foam or adjustable air. Retailers who sell a bed-in-a-box also tend to offer certain perks, such as long tryout periods and free shipping.
Companies like Purple, for example, specialize in bed-in-a-box mattresses known to improve airflow. This is a great option for people who are sensitive to heat and whose body temperature disturbs their sleep.
Sleep and Mental Health
According to Functional Medical Institute, healthy sleep consists of 90-minute cycles consisting of deep sleep and rapid eye movement (REM) — or dreams. Poor sleep quality can worsen mental health conditions such as psychosis, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, depression, and anxiety disorders. Mental health issues can also cause disturbances in your sleep patterns. Sleep and mental health appear to have a codependent relationship.
Insomnia is a common sleep condition that shows how mental health and sleep are connected. About half of all people with insomnia are dealing with an underlying condition such as depression, anxiety disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. This means that insomnia is often a symptom, and finding its cause is imperative to getting better sleep and help.
Sleep and Physical Health
Lack of sleep can also cause other health issues such as poor balance, memory problems, difficulty concentrating, moodiness, decreased immune system function, and high blood pressure. Sleep helps your body regulate various hormones, including hunger hormones that let you know when you’re hungry and have had enough to eat. Not sleeping enough may cause you to gain weight because your hunger hormones will be unbalanced.
Scientists are also researching possible connections between sleep loss and inflammation. Though it can benefit you at times, inflammation can eventually lead to swelling, redness as some parts of your body have more blood than needed, pain, and cause problems with mobility.
We tend to take sleep for granted, but science is slowly teaching us that it’s a vital component of good mental and physical health. Finding the right help is crucial to ensuring you’re getting enough rest, but it’s also empowering to take small actions that are within your control.