Trouble sleeping can be both a cause and symptom of common mental health conditions. As part of National Sleep Awareness Month, Shanette Smith, a licensed marriage and family therapist at Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital, shares three important facts about the close relationship between sleep and mental well-being.
1. People with insomnia are at greater risk for developing serious mental health conditions.
In comparison to those who sleep well, people experiencing a variety of sleep issues — including insomnia, hypersomnia (excessive sleepiness) and even nightmares — have an increased risk of depression, suicidal ideations and death by suicide.
"Lack of quality sleep over time can greatly impair cognitive functioning," says Smith. "In fact, insomnia and daytime sleepiness are among the most debilitating symptoms people with depression experience."
2. Trouble sleeping is a common symptom of many mental health disorders.
Individuals with generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), panic disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) often report sleep issues as one of the symptoms that most impacts their life.
3. Symptoms of sleep disorders and mental health conditions often overlap.
"Sleep issues are associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in both children and adults," says Smith. "However, ADHD symptoms often overlap with sleep problems, making it sometimes difficult to differentiate the root cause of behavioral issues. This correlation is also true for depression and symptoms of sleep disorders."
While there is an increased risk between sleep disorders and mental health conditions, there are practices you can put into place to encourage more successful and restorative sleep. Smith recommends following these healthy habits to promote sleep:
- Go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day — a consistent schedule is key for setting your internal clock.
- Avoid nicotine, caffeine, alcohol and heavy meals prior to bedtime.
- Exercise daily — vigorous or light exercise can promote better sleep.
- Create a sleep-friendly bedroom environment — minimize noise, keep the room dark and at a comfortable temperature, and avoid screen time before bed.
Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital provides comprehensive services for people of all ages experiencing serious behavioral and emotional problems, including anxiety, depression and thoughts of suicide. Call 858-836-8434 to learn more.