Sleep and Mental Health

Posted on August 18, 2020

There’s no question about it, lack of sleep or insomnia sends many people to the edge and even the thought of going to bed is almost a Shakespearean tragedy. Speaking of which, in one of Shakespeare’s epics “King Lear”, insomnia forms part of a vicious cycle in which Lear finds himself; his madness and distress have caused his sleeplessness, and the lack of repose has in turn worsened his condition. Now that situation does beckon the need for some serious help because as we know, King Lear managed to make quite a meal of his kingdom.

We don’t recommend reading this wonderful artistic masterpiece however; it remains testament to the fact that even Kings are struck down hard by the lack of a few good zzzzz’s.

Sleep plays an enormous role in our mental health wellbeing in fact, around 40% of Australians are affected by lack of sleep or sleeplessness. A recent study by the Australian Sleep Foundation identified that over a 3 month observation period of people complaining of sleep problems that 1 in 6 made significant errors at their place of work.

You know the routine, time approaches when you feel the urge to wrestle with your duvet, fluff up the $300.00 special orthopedic pillow, set alight that amazing candle called “Journey to Slumberville” and finally play tantric music guaranteed to bring on sleep. Sadly, with all of this preparation and routine, it doesn’t seem to play out the way you’d like.  Either you can’t get to sleep or within minutes of falling asleep you awaken.

Many things contribute to sleeplessness and these can almost be captured in 3 simple examples (we will exclude things like taking stimulants such as caffeine or alcohol before bed);

  • Increased responsibilities
  • Experiencing a period of change
  • Going through life’s ups and downs

People who are ‘good sleepers’ also suffer from bouts of sleep deprivation which makes them feel tired, run down and sometimes grumpy. Thankfully, sleep returns when the troublesome periods disappear.

We know from medical studies that poor sleep can contribute to mental issues such as depression and anxiety. By addressing these issues head on, there is a strong association with positive impact on both mental and physical health.

You’ve possibly done a lot of browsing on how to overcome your sleep problem including getting advice from professionals and that is a great idea. Here are a few other gems that you can incorporate into your daily routine to improve your sleep patterns.

  1. Stick to a regular time for going to bed and wake time
  2. Hold off on any stimulants such as caffeine or alcohol
  3. Get a bit of exercise during the day
  4. Try to avoid daytime naps
  5. If you go to bed with worries, you’ll wake up with them. Develop some positive strategies to deal with worries or anxiety

A few handy ideas to improve sleep and by all means if it’s not getting any better or worsening, please speak to your healthcare provider

Be safe and stay healthy