March 14-20 is recognized as Sleep Awareness Week. The World Sleep Society’s theme for this year is “Regular Sleep, Healthy Future.” putting emphasis on the benefits of regular sleep on overall health and well-being, including mental health.
Studies have found that bedtime and rise times are associated with better sleep quality for all ages. Regular sleepers have better moods, psychomotor performance, and academic achievement.
10-18% of adults in the US experience chronic sleep problems and those problems are common in those with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and ADHD.
When we sleep, we go through a sleep cycle. Our body temperature drops, muscles relax, and our breathing and heart-rate slow down. Getting to the deepest stage of sleep produces changes that help our immune systems. REM Sleep allows us to dream. In this case, our body temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing increase. REM Sleep enhances learning and memory skills.
Disruptions in sleep affect levels of neurotransmitters and stress hormones, wreaking havoc on the brain, impairing thinking and emotional regulation. These disruptions can amplify the effects of psychiatric disorders and vice versa.
There are steps you can take to help your sleep hygiene. The World Sleep Society recommends the following 10 steps to help improve your quality of sleep.