Sleep is essential for any healthy person. It gives us the energy to take on the next day. Rest is critical for not only our body’s physical health but also our mental health. A regular, well-maintained sleep schedule can keep your mental health in the best shape possible. It allows your mind to rest and lets your conscious-self take a break.
About 40 million Americans suffer from chronic, long-term sleep disorders per year while another 20 million have occasional sleep problems. REM sleep, known as rapid eye movement, is the deepest part of the sleep cycle. When the brain is in this part of the cycle, it stimulates the same regions used in learning. There is extensive research on the relationship between REM and how an individual learns. One study, in particular, conducted an experiment where one group was taught a skill and then were deprived of REM while the other was taught the same skill and allowed REM sleep. The study showed that when deep sleep is either disrupted or deprived, it has a huge impact on how our brains retain information and clearly thinks.
It was once believed that sleep deprivation or a sleep disorder was a symptom of a mental health issue. Now there is more research leading us to believe that treatment of a sleep disorder could help alleviate symptoms associated with a mental health condition. Research shows that 60 to 90 percent of adults with clinical depression experience some sleep problems. As well, sleep problems affect over 50 percent of adults who are diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder. Sleep problems can also affect those with post-traumatic stress disorder, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and other phobic disorders.
What to Do
The average adult should be sleeping between seven to nine hours a day, according to the National Sleep Foundation. If you are experiencing sleep issues, take small steps to put yourself in a better situation for more sleep. Simple things such as not drinking caffeine, not using your electronic device an hour before you go to sleep, to giving yourself enough time to fall asleep can set you up for a full night of rest. If the small changes are not working for you, see a healthcare professional and talk to them about your sleep issues.