(BPT) - We have all been taught about the importance of getting a good night’s sleep. But do you know why? Healthy sleep doesn’t just help us feel rested and fully charged during the day, although it's the first thing we notice. Sleep is a natural process that is affected by our body clocks (or circadian rhythm) and helps us do everything from restore our bodies, consolidate memory, and clear out toxins in our brain to help improve other health conditions. When we think about these health benefits, one of the most powerful is the connection between our sleep and an area of growing public concern: our mental health.
As part of its commitment to helping educate the public about the importance of sleep and its effect on overall health and well-being, the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) set out to understand even more about the link between our sleep health and mental health, with a focus on depressive symptoms among American adults.
Another Wake-up Call: Understanding the Connection Between Sleep and Mental Health
Recently released findings from the NSF’s Sleep in America® Poll highlight important relationships between sleep and depression in the general population. In fact, nearly 65% of Americans who are dissatisfied with their sleep experience mild or greater levels of depressive symptoms. What’s more, 50% of all adults who sleep less than the NSF-recommended 7-9 hours of sleep a night experience mild or greater levels of depressive symptoms.
We Can Do This: The Importance of Good Sleep
But there is good news. Practicing healthy sleep habits is not only associated with better sleep, but also better mood and mental health. More than 90% of adults who practice high levels of healthy sleep behaviors are free of significant depressive symptoms.
Being Your Best Slept Self®
To help people get more of the quality sleep they need, the NSF gives science-backed recommendations to help anyone and everyone be their Best Slept Self®. Just three small steps during the day and three small steps at night can make a big difference in your sleep health.
Daytime Tips for Being Your Best Slept Self®
Basic things like spending time in bright light during the day, natural light, or equivalent brightness, and exercising regularly, can all point to a deeper sleep. When exercising, aim for 30 minutes a day, five days a week. The NSF also recommends eating meals at consistent times day after day.
Nighttime Tips for Being Your Best Slept Self®
Before bedtime, it is important to avoid things like heavy meals, nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol. The NSF also recommends putting your devices away an hour before bed and sleeping in a quiet, cool and dark environment. In addition, using a consistent routine with a relaxing wind-down can help you get the sleep you need each night. For most adults, the recommended amount of sleep is 7-9 hours, with the same sleep and wake times.
Sometimes, even after including healthy sleep behaviors into our routine, we still don’t feel like we’re getting the sleep we need. If you have lasting symptoms or continue to be concerned about your sleep after taking some basic steps, it’s a good idea to seek professional help from a clinician.
If you are having challenges with your mood or feelings of depression, you are not alone. For anyone experiencing suicidal thoughts, please seek care. Contact the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by calling or texting 988.
National Sleep Foundation celebrates the 25th Anniversary of Sleep Awareness Week® from March 12-18, 2023. Sleep Awareness Week is supported by a range of sponsors who help NSF spread sleep health messages. Our lead sponsor Primasun believes sleep is the foundation of physical and mental health. Their goal is to help educate people on how sleep impacts our overall well-being and build a more equitable path to clinical sleep care to ultimately unlock happier, healthier days for all.
Visit Primasun’s resource hub to hear more from them about the importance of sleep, get physician insights on improving sleep, and find care at www.jointhesleepmovement.com.