How Much Sleep Do You Need for Good Mental Health?

Sleep is one of the few things that most animals have in common.  It recharges everything―our muscles, our organs, our brains. Sometimes as adults, the thought of going home and climbing into a warm, cozy bed is what gets us through a tough day.  Can you even conceive of a time when you were a kid and you complained when your mom made you take a nap?

Despite knowing its importance, it’s rare that any of us get the recommended amount of sleep.  Lack of sleep affects us both physically and mentally and can cause auto accidents, workplace accidents, medical problems and can lead to mental issues like depression and anxiety.

What Happens When We Sleep

Sleep happens in two stages.  The first is quiet sleep is a progressively deepening sleep.  Your muscles relax and your heart rate slows. It’s a restorative sleep that helps your body repair itself and it boosts the immune system.  

The second stage is REM, or Rapid Eye Movement sleep when you dream.  This brings your heart rate and your breathing back to normal. REM sleep improves memory and is beneficial to your emotional health.  

What Happens When We Have Poor Sleep Cycles

When we have problems with our sleep cycles, our thinking is impaired and our emotions are all over the place.  We’re fatigued, have a lack of motivation, are moody, have difficulty concentrating, it prematurely ages the skin, and it drags down the immune system. 

 The most common sleep disorders are insomnia, sleep apnea, and narcolepsy.  Sleep disorders can be a symptom of another disorder or it can be the cause of it.  People with insomnia will often get depression and people who have depression will often develop insomnia.  People with anxiety disorders may develop bouts of insomnia or insomnia may lead to anxiety. Many people with bipolar disorder also suffer from sleep problems but often it is insomnia during the manic phase and hypersomnia (excessive sleeping) during the depressive phase.

How Much Sleep Is Enough

Most people lead busy lives and there’s always something to do other than get to bed early.  But getting even an hour less than the amount of sleep your body and mind need to restore themselves can affect your thinking as well as your cardiovascular health and your immune system.  

The National Sleep Foundation says that adults from 18-years-old on require at least 7-9 hours of sleep for our bodies to function properly.  Newborn babies need 14-17 hours and up to age 13, your child should be getting 9-11 hours of sleep each night.  

How You Can Get Better Sleep to Improve Your Mental Health

  • Give up caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol.  Nicotine and caffeine are both stimulants and although alcohol may be a depressant, when its effects wear off, you wake up.  
  • Get regular exercise.  Regular exercise during the day helps you fall asleep fast and remain in deep sleep longer.
  • No screen time before bed.  Staring at your phone before bed suppresses your melatonin, decreases REM sleep, and throws off your body’s circadian rhythm (internal clock).  Relax before bed with a good book instead.
  • Try relaxation techniques.  Meditation and deep breathing exercises before bed can help calm your overactive mind.

 

Better sleep habits are a vital part of improving your physical and mental health.  Often, improving symptoms of depression requires more than that including psychotherapy and or medications.  If a medication can’t be found that can make a difference, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation therapy may help.  By using magnet fields to stimulate the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain where depression originates, patients can regain function in that area and see a significant reduction, or even a complete remission, from depression.

At Gateway TMS, our caring staff guides patients through the process, from initial consultation to treatment, answering any questions and providing treatment in a relaxed and calming atmosphere.  TMS can finally give you relief from your symptoms of depression. Call Gateway TMS today at (314) 909-8487 and let us show you how we can help.