If we take a good look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, it’s clear to see that satisfying our physiological needs (Food, water, warmth and rest) is the foundation to everything else that happens in our life. Without these basic needs being met, it’s impossible to stay healthy both psychically and mentally. So it should come as no surprise that having disrupted sleep can cause huge problems for our mental wellbeing.

On average, we spend about a third of our lives sleeping and sleep disturbances can often be one of the first signs that something is not right with our health. Common health problems such as anxiety and depressions can often underpin sleep problems. 

Sleep deprivation or disruption is particularly common in shift-based work, safety critical industries such as the railway and especially for new parents and although these situations are inevitable in many cases, it’s important to find a way to create a sleep routine that allows you to rest and recover from both mental and physical exertion. 

Sleep is closely related to mental and emotional health and has demonstrated links to depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and other conditions. While the ongoing research tries to better understand the link between mental health and sleep, the current evidence points towards a bidirectional relationship. Those who have mental health disorders tend to have more disrupted sleep but equally, poor sleep, can be a contributing factor to the initiation and worsening of mental health problems. Therefore, it’s essential that although we lead such busy lifestyles, we must make allowing time to rest a priority in our day to day lives.

So what steps can you take to improve your sleep habits?

The most common cause of sleep problems arise from having poor sleep hygiene. Creating a sleep environment that is optimal for getting a good night’s sleep is crucial and should not be overlooked.

  • Try and go to bed at the same time each night. By doing so, in the time leading up to this hour, your body will learn that it’s nearly time for bed and will naturally release melatonin, a hormone which aids sleep.
  • Practice an activity or routine that allows you to wind down. Whether this be turning off all devices one hour before bed, reading or doing some form of meditation, anything that notifies your body that it’s nearly time to sleep will improve your quality of sleep.
  • Avoid alcohol, tabacco and caffeine in the evening.
  • Block out as much blue light as possible before bedtime.
  • Make sure you get outside during the day. Our body clocks understand the world in day and night, so making sure you spend time outside is important for your body to understand when the day is over. 
  • Find a mattress and pillow that is right for you. If you are uncomfortable in bed, this can contribute to a disturbed night’s sleep.

These are just a few ideas that you can implement when trying to get a better night’s sleep but it really is practice makes perfect. Once you get into a good sleep habit, you will find that you sleep for longer, feel more rested when you wake up and you may even see improvements in your mood, emotional wellbeing and energy levels.

If you are experiencing problems with your sleep, we have some great workshops available with our sleep specialist Dan White. Click here to learn more