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How is sleep related to mental health?

We’re all guilty of staying up occasionally, to watch a movie marathon with friends, to see the sun rise after an overnight hike, to be a midnight therapist to your sister or to match a deadline at work.

To spend a whole night without sleep or incomplete rest is alright, sometimes adventurous. However, if it becomes part of your lifestyle it can have some severe repercussions on your mental health.

When you sleep, your body gets time to relax, rejuvenate, heal and charge itself for the next day. That is why you feel fresh when you wake up – you’re prepared to perform your daily jobs and come back home to an inviting bed.

There can be several reasons for insufficient sleep. Emotional and physical stress, overload of work, improper eating habits, incorrect sleeping posture and surrounding or disturbances like noise.

Long periods of disturbed sleep are unhealthy at many levels. The functioning of your brain decreases, you constantly feel fatigued and dysfunctional, your judgement begins to falter, and other bodily processes get affected too.

The worst effect could be developing psychological and sleeping disorders because your mind, body and brain didn’t relax for a long time.

There are a few simple measures you can take to not fall into this unhealthy pattern. The first step is to decide how many hours of uninterrupted sleep you need for not waking up drowsy and tired. This will help you reset your body clock.

Plan out your diet requirements – eating right and at the same time every day will help regularise the time at which you fall asleep. Try to relax your mind before you head to bed. A mind which is bustling with thoughts and worries is not the right mental frame to sleep with. Pick up something that will calm you down, read a few pages of a novel or magazine, listen to music or watch 30 minutes of your favourite sitcom.

It is also important that you make sure your mobile phone does not beep with notifications and messages all night. Setting your room for a comfortable sleep is absolutely necessary. If there’s too much or too little light seeping through the bedroom windows, adjust or replace your curtains with the right ones.

If your pillows are uncomfortable and hurt your neck while sleeping, try bringing home pillows with different sizes and softness till you find the right one. Breathable sheets are important too.Your bedsheet needs to breathe with your skin – no one likes to wake up sweating under their blankets!

Make sure your comforter and duvet are right for the weather outside. It should be soft, dirt-free and maintain the perfect body temperature. To maintain a good “sleep hygiene”, the space where you sleep should be clean and clutter-free. Your bed can be kept dust-free with bed covers and clutter-free by avoiding the use of beds for other purposes like eating and working.

By the time you end your day, your mind is exhausted, but your body still has unspent energy which can be troublesome while trying to doze off. This unspent energy can be spent on various physical activities like cycling or taking a stroll in the vicinity. It is one of the best and most effective measures you can take to ensure a healthy sleep pattern.

A good mental health needs care and attention to yourself. Compromising on sleep does not mean you have extra hours in the day, it only means you are putting yourself in a health risk.

So sleep well, sleep right, don’t let the stress bugs bite!

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