Sleep & Mental Health


Chronic sleep problems affect 10-18% of adults in the general U.S. population. With those who suffer from mental illness, that number rises to 50-80%. Sleeping problems are extremely prevalent in the lives of people who struggle with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and ADHD. Now, traditionally insomnia has been viewed as a symptom of mental illness. However, studies suggest that sleep problems may raise risk for and contribute to the development of some of these disorders. Therefore, treating the sleeping problem may be the key to treating the mental health concerns in some cases. 

In a normal sleep cycle, a person progresses through four stages of increasingly deep sleep. During the deepest phase of sleep, physiological changes occur that help boost the way your immune system functions.  REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, the stage of sleep in which people dream, enhances learning and memory, which contributes to emotional health. When not sleeping properly prevents us from reaching this phase of sleep cycle, it can impair thinking and emotional regulation during waking hours. This is why it is so crucial to try maximize your quality of sleep. 

Changes You Can Make To Sleep Better. 

Through a combination of lifestyle changes, behavioral strategies and talk therapy, you can work towards treating your sleeping problem to maximize your mental wellbeing. 

Lifestyle changes. 

Substances like caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine can contribute to sleeplessness. Giving up the use of these substances can not only help you fall asleep more easily, but also improve your quality of sleep.  

Physical activity. 

Regularly exercising will tire your body out and help you fall asleep faster, spend more time in deep sleep, and wake up less often during the night. 

Implement sleep tactics. 

Did you know that you can learn how to sleep better? You can try to only use the bedroom when it is time to sleep, or keeping the bedroom dark and free of distractions like the computer or TV. 

Relaxation techniques. 

Youtube is full of free videos that offer free guided sleep meditation and deep breathing exercises you can use to help you fall asleep faster and counteract racing thoughts or anxiety. 

Work with a talk therapist. 

Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia is a structured program that helps you identify and replace thoughts and behaviors that cause or worsen sleep problems with habits that promote sound sleep. Unlike sleeping pills, cognitive behavioral therapy helps you overcome the underlying causes of your sleep problems. 

Click here to be paired with a therapist who can help!