How to Get More Sleep

Nothing feels quite as good as waking up well-rested after a great night’s sleep. Getting enough sleep can boost your memory, lower your blood pressure and even help you lose weight. It’s also vital to your mental health, making you more focused and less irritable during the day. And though many people think that getting more restful sleep is a difficult feat, it’s actually easy to do.

Sleep is a complex state of reduced awareness and altered consciousness during which time your muscles relax, brain activity slows, eye movements cease, and you can only be awakened by noise or alarm. Throughout the course of a typical night of sleep, your body goes through four stages of non-rapid eye movement (NREM) and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Each of these stages is associated with a specific pattern of brain waves and muscle activity.

A growing body of research indicates that a good night’s sleep can prevent disease, improve your intelligence and help you resist the effects of aging. It can also make you happier and more pleasant to be around. Yet despite the many ways that sleep is important, millions of people don’t get enough of it. Sleep is a basic human need fine-tuned over millions of years of evolution to enable almost all of the body’s functions.

If you’re not getting enough, it can quickly affect your ability to react and concentrate, as well as make good decisions. It can also impair your mood and your ability to get along with others. And over time, ongoing sleep deficiency can raise your risk of a variety of chronic health conditions and contribute to mental illness.

Sleeping better starts with getting more of it, which you can do by following some simple strategies. For example, try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. Keep your bedroom dark and cool, and avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed. Exercise and relaxing activities may also aid your sleep.

Another way to improve your sleep is to address any underlying mental health problems, which may disrupt it. In some cases, mental health disorders like anxiety and depression can cause you to experience difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. But you can work with a trained professional to learn how to manage your symptoms and achieve better sleep.

In other cases, the reverse is true: sleeping disorders can have a major impact on your mental health, making you more prone to psychiatric symptoms like depression and suicidal thoughts. This makes it especially important to seek treatment for any mental health problems you have.

In fact, the relationship between sleep and psychiatric disorders is so complex that it’s sometimes hard to determine which comes first. This multifaceted connection means that steps to improve sleep can often form part of a comprehensive treatment plan for mental health conditions. For many people, improving their sleep is the first step in addressing those disorders.