Skip to the content

Admission Line 888-255-9280

Sleep and Mental Health

There is a significant link between good sleep hygiene and your mental health. Conversely, poor sleep habits are connected to various mental health disorders. Today, we’ll talk about the relationship between sleep hygiene and your mental health, so you can see how the two interlink and why it’s important to get a good night’s sleep. 

What is Sleep Hygiene?

Sleep hygiene relates to how you sleep and how you prepare for sleep every night. This includes the behaviors you fall into as well as the environment around you. A lot of mental health practitioners will assess your sleep hygiene to see if it is either affecting your mental health or being affected by your mental health.

Broadly speaking, the Sleep Foundation puts sleep hygiene into two categories: 

  • Good Sleep Hygiene - This is when you follow good sleeping habits. In other words, you set a regular bedtime, have a normal sleep schedule, go to bed in a dark/quiet room, and sleep through the night. 
  • Bad Sleep Hygiene - Here, you’re following bad sleeping habits. You stay up late staring at screens, your bedroom is not conducive to a good night’s sleep, and you regularly struggle to get to sleep or wake up frequently. 

You ideally want to aim for good sleep hygiene, especially once mental health is brought into the equation. 

The Correlation Between Sleep and Mental Illness

Sleep hygiene and mental health work against one another in a terrible cycle. 

On the one hand, mental illnesses like depression or anxiety can cause sleepless nights. They create worries in your mind, making it hard for you to sleep. This adds to your stress and each night becomes harder to bear. 

On the other hand, poor sleep hygiene can be linked to an increased likelihood of mental health disorders. If you’re not getting enough sleep and waking up tired every day, you feel more stressed. You may be unable to focus at work or school, which leads to feelings of anxiety. From here, you can quickly start exhibiting the signs of depression - and all of this worsens because of your poor sleep hygiene. 

More specifically, certain sleep disorders are closely linked to certain medical conditions. The two most common include narcolepsy and insomnia. 

Narcolepsy and Mental Health

Narcolepsy is a serious sleep disorder that impacts your sleep cycle. Symptoms include an inability to sleep at night, combined with uncontrollable urges to sleep during the day. You may also experience a loss of muscle function and regular sleep paralysis. 

There is a very strong link between narcolepsy and at least two mental health conditions: Depression and anxiety. According to WebMD, 57% of people with narcolepsy say they’re depressed and 35% admit to having anxiety issues. If we compare these figures to the general population, they are significantly larger. Only 4.7% of adults state they’re depressed and 18% have anxiety. 

Which comes first; do anxiety and depression cause narcolepsy, or vice versa? Most experts believe that narcolepsy does lead to mental health conditions, rather than the reverse. The mental effects of a sleep disorder like this will affect people’s minds and it’s easy to see how anxiety issues can form. Depression is never too far away from anxiety, particularly if you experience anxious episodes over a long period. 

Insomnia and Mental Health

Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder among U.S. adults. In simple terms, it’s when you’re unable to get to sleep. You lie awake at night trying to drift off, but sleep doesn’t come for ages. When you do sleep, it may only be briefly before you wake up again. 

People with depression or anxiety are likely to suffer from insomnia and it can also cause both of these conditions in mentally healthy people. What’s also interesting is that mental health practitioners have spotted a link between insomnia and bipolar disorder. Studies show that sleep loss is a trigger of mood episodes in bipolar disorder. In other words, a lack of sleep can induce the symptoms of bipolar disorder and lead to a manic episode.

So, if you’ve not been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and you constantly struggle to sleep, it could be worth seeing someone and getting all of your symptoms checked. You may have been dealing with a hidden condition for a long time without knowing, and now you may be finally able to get help with it.

Why Mental Health Experts Encourage Good Sleep Hygiene

You’re encouraged to follow good sleep hygiene practices for the sake of your wellness. Sleep is essential for recovery - it helps our body regulate itself and we feel recharged and refreshed after. Following good sleep hygiene is inherently good for you. It will leave you well-rested every night, which can aid the treatment of many mental health conditions. 

Imagine if you woke up in the morning feeling awake and ready for the next day. Or, consider every night you’re not staring at the ceiling and struggling to fall asleep. Sleep hygiene can improve your mood and decrease the symptoms of anxiety and depression in many individuals. It can also prevent these problems from forming in the first place, which is why it’s so important to take charge of your sleep hygiene quickly.

Here are some basic steps to help you sleep better every night: 

  • Avoid screens for at least an hour before bed.
  • Don’t drink caffeine in the afternoon.
  • Ensure your room is dark and quiet - use a sleep mask or earplugs if necessary.
  • Only use your bed for sleeping - it helps your brain realize that it’s time to sleep, so you drift off a lot sooner.
  • Try to stick to a sleep schedule every night - this sets your internal clock and your body naturally feels sleepy at the same time every day.
  • Listen to calming music, white noise, ASMR, or anything else that soothes and relaxes your mind while you’re laying down.

The bottom line is that sleep and mental health have a very close relationship. Sometimes, your sleep habits cause mental health problems, and other times it’s the opposite. Regardless, you need to focus on looking after yourself and getting enough sleep. Aim for six-to-nine hours of quality sleep every night - you will soon feel the benefits!

If you’re seeking professional mental health help, consider contacting Jackson House. Our fully licensed team is ready to help you in your mental health journey - both today and beyond.

About the author

Jackson House

Jackson House

We built Jackson House because we realized there was a critical gap in our healthcare system and many individuals with mental illnesses and substance abuse problems were struggling because of it. While there are many outpatient treatment options and locked, inpatient facilities there was nothing in the middle. Nothing to help people who needed around the clock care but wanted to receive treatment voluntarily, on their own terms. Jackson House is different. We provide clients with the level of care they need in a welcoming environment. When you walk through our doors, we will meet you wherever you’re at and help you on your journey toward feeling better.

It's time to feel better

We are here to help and we are in-network with most insurance providers. Call us for a free and confidential consultation.

If you’re a provider and need to send us information on a client, please feel free to fax us at 619-303-7044. If you need help immediately, call our 24-hour crisis line at 1-800-766-4274. If you have a medical emergency, call 911. Jackson House is licensed by the State of California Community Care Licensing Division and certified by the Department of Health Care Services. We are also CARF Accredited. If you have any client or quality of care concerns, please reach out to us at (888) 255-9280. If your concerns need further attention, you can contact the Department of Public Health at 619-278-3700 or the Community Care Licensing Division at 1-844-538-8766.