SLEEP AND YOUR MENTAL HEALTH
Everyone needs sleep, but sometimes we have problems with it. Do you relate to any of the following concerns with sleep?
- Find it hard to fall asleep, stay asleep or wake up earlier than you'd like.
- Have concerns that disturb your sleep, such as anxiety, flashbacks, or nightmares.
- Find it hard to wake up or get out of bed each day.
- Often feel tired or overly sleepy.
- Sleep too much.
If you're having problems sleeping, you might:
- Be more likely to feel stressed, anxious, or depressed.
- Make already existing mental health or physical symptoms worse.
- Feel lonely or isolated. For example, you don't have the energy to be social.
- Struggle to concentrate or make plans and decisions.
- Feel irritable or do not have the energy to do things.
- Have difficulty with day-to-day life.
What are some causes of problems with sleep?
- Stresses or worries.
- Concerns with where you sleep, new environment, roommates, noise, comfort.
- Health conditions relating to sleep.
- Certain medications. Please consult with your medical doctor.
- Recreational drugs and alcohol.
- Staying up late to study/work on projects.
- Current or past trauma.
- Various other mental and physical health concerns.
Depending on what’s been causing your sleep disturbance, you might consider one or more of the following:
- Acknowledge your need for sleep. Allow yourself enough time to sleep.
- Avoid screentime at bedtime. Our screens emit a blue light which negatively impacts melatonin.
- Establish a regular sleep schedule.
- Establish a regular nighttime routine.
- Avoid caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant.
- Avoid alcohol. Though sedating, alcohol can have a “rebound effect,” keeping you awake.
- Engage in regular physical activity but avoid physical exertion too close to bedtime. Your mind and body need time to settle down before sleep.
- Avoid worrying or dwelling on problems too close to bedtime. Your mind needs time to settle down before sleep.
- Make your sleep environment as comfortable as you can.
- Learn and use relaxation or meditation techniques. These techniques can help ease your tension and lower your frustration as well as help you sleep. Apps such as Headspace and Calm are suggested to be helpful.
- Directly address ongoing issues causing you stress or anxiety. You might find that discussing your concerns during the day with someone you can trust is surprisingly helpful at bedtime.
HOW TO GET HELP
Free, confidential counseling is available at the University Counseling Center, 206 Health Services Building, 610-519-4050.