The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that one in five Americans have some sort of mental illness. The severity and duration can vary widely, and it is a much smaller percentage that is under medical treatment. Sleep disorders are potential symptoms of almost every psychiatric illness. About 40% of patients who seek medical help for sleeping problems have a psychiatric condition. Meanwhile, to have a mental health disorder without sleep problems is quite rare: fewer than 20% of mental health patients don’t have sleep problems. To an extent, sleep quality can be a barometer of mental health. For this reason, psychiatrists always inquire about sleep behavior when making a diagnosis. Sleep disorders often coexist with anxiety and panic disorders, depression, ADHD, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. Problematically, the sleep issues associated with these mental health disorders make it more challenging to manage symptoms and experience the benefits of treatment.
Mental Illness and Sleep Disorders
If you are struggling with mental health issues, you may also suffer from sleep disruptions. Issues such as anxiety and depression can have a serious impact on the quality of your sleep, including reducing the actual number of hours you get each night. The worst part is that once you start missing out on sleep, it will only exacerbate any mental illness symptoms you may be experiencing. If you want to improve your mental health and how you feel, use the following tips for better sleep to get a headstart.
Better Mattress, Better Sleep
There’s no hard and fast rule about when you should replace your mattress. For hygienic reasons, you really shouldn’t hold on to a nightly crash pad for more than 10 years. However, if you are experiencing sleep problems, you may want to upgrade to something more conducive to your needs. For instance, mattresses made from memory foam, gel foam, or a latex mattress will have optimal back and pressure-point support while still feeling soft and comfortable.
It’s All Routine
Having a nightly routine or ritual that you do to get ready for bed helps shift your mind and body into sleep mode for the night. Your nightly routine is personal and should reflect what comforts you and what facilitates a restful night’s sleep. However, just about everybody can benefit from a routine where they put away work and responsibilities for the day, dim the lights, and make themselves comfortable after hours of being up and moving around. Getting into a routine can be difficult, but with perseverance, it will eventually become second nature.
Sleepy Tea Time
If you have a hard time falling asleep, it may be tempting to look into medicines that can knock you out at night. However, sleeping pills come with a variety of risks that make them not worth taking unless a doctor specifically advises you to do so. A safer alternative is herbal tea. Sipping on a hot mug of calming tea at night may not knock you out, but it will help your mind and body relax. Grocery stores carry boxes upon boxes of tea that claim to help lull you to sleep, but for those who would rather skip the bag, certain loose leaf teas and herbal blends can work.
Mental illness can cause sleep issues and vice versa. To help protect your mental health, it’s important to be proactive when it comes to getting enough rest at night. Even if your mattress is less than a decade old, it may need a replacement. Consider a model made of memory foam, gel foam, or a latex mattress for the best back and pressure point support. A nightly routine before bed helps shift the mind and body into sleep mode when you do it. The routine should be personal and enjoyable enough that you stick with it until it becomes a habit. Those struggling with insomnia may be tempted to take prescription medicine as a remedy, but sleeping pills have some pretty big risks. Before going to the doctor, try calming the nerves with a hot cup of herbal tea that may reduce anxiety and improve sleep.