While most of us know that not getting enough sleep can be detrimental to our physical health, leading to increased fatigue and putting us at risk of several medical conditions, lack of rest also affects our mental health significantly. This, of course, doesn’t stop many of us from choosing work, entertainment, or other distractions instead of the amount of sleep that we need – more than 1 in 3 Americans report sleeping less than the recommended minimum of 7 hours per night.
So why should we prioritize finding opportunities to sleep longer?
Rest is Crucial to Mental Functioning
Without adequate time to rest via sleep, your mind will be less able to respond to the challenges of daily life, and you may experience mood disruptions.
Much like rest being one of the most common suggestions to accelerate healing after a physical injury, giving your brain time to recover from each successive day can be crucial in providing you the opportunity to subconsciously process issues, feelings, and emotions. Just like it’s important to set boundaries in relationships, it’s also important to set boundaries for your waking hours to ensure you’re able to function and feel as positive and energized as possible.
Beyond the well-documented physical benefits of getting enough sleep, the other main benefit from a mental health perspective is in helping to establish and build healthy habits for yourself.
By establishing a pattern of going to bed and subsequently waking up simultaneously, you build personal discipline and incorporate more predictability into your daily routine – which can help assimilate other healthy self-care habits as time goes on.
Ways to Strategize Your Way to More Rest
- Stick to your schedule! While life can be hectic and responsibilities change quickly, do your best to stay consistent day-to-day.
- Minimize distractions. Even on low-light output settings, looking at screens such as phones, tablets, or even TVs can make it harder to get to sleep. Try to eliminate or at least reduce your screen time for about an hour before going to bed.
- Incorporate calming habits. Practices like meditation or reading a book before bed can be not only suitable substitutes for screen time but can also help you calm down and function as part of your self-care routine along with sleep.