Mental health: Why is sleep so important?

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Poor or insufficient sleep affects different parts of the brain, such as the prefrontal cortex and the tonsil. It thus amplifies mood disorders and anxiety. A few tips can help us get a good sleep and improve our mental health. Here is why is sleep so important.

Have you noticed that after a bad night you tend to feel more depressed and anxious? The negative thoughts can overwhelm us and reduce our dumps. Indeed, lack can deeply influence our mental health and have an impact on our energy level and our motivation, reducing our ability to cope with stress. It can also make us more irritable and increase the risk of sadness and bad mood, and cause some lethargy.

From a neurological point of view, poor or insufficient sleep can affect multiple parts of the brain , including our prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for reasoning and decision-making, says experts . It can also have an impact on the amygdala, the area of ​​the brain responsible for the fear response, which triggers an increase in levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Result: the triggering of our fight or flight response, and a feeling of anxiety .

Sleep hygiene

Good quality sleep has a powerful effect on both the body and the mind. This is especially important if you have a mental health problem. Without quality nap, even the best treatment will be ineffective, insist the experts. Lack of slumber can amplify preexisting mood and anxiety disorders by increasing emotional instability, irritability and fatigue. So what can we do to improve our nights?

Practice good sleep hygiene

Try to sleep between seven and nine hours a night, avoid electronic devices before bed, as well as alcohol and caffeine. To create a good quality environment, you can create a bedtime routine by taking a shower or bath, drinking a herbal tea or reading a book. Leave your smartphone switched off in another room, and don’t hesitate to take advantage of meditation or relaxation exercises before going to bed. Cognitive behavior therapy has been shown to be very effective in cases of insomnia.

Should we sleep less as we age?

Many older adults feel that their inability to sleep for long periods of time is a sign that they need less. But this is probably not true. Because if the perception of sleep changes, the quantity required remains the same.

Children need more sleep than adults. Their growing bodies and brains burn a lot of energy, and adequate rest and recovery are essential for their proper development. Over time, insufficient sleep can affect a person’s metabolism, mood, memory, and heart function. However, it is common to spend less time on the pillow as you get older, without feeling in bad shape. Does a person’s sleep needs decrease with age?

Because need and capacity are two different things. It is quite clear that sleep capacity decreases with age. Many older adults assume that their inability to sleep healthy or for long periods of time is a sign that they do not need as much rest . But this is probably not true.

Listen to your body

So how do you know how many hours of nap a person needs for optimal health? On average, the recommended time is seven to eight hours. But some people will need a little more or a little less. For scientists, it is very difficult to give a precise average that applies to each individual. Assuming you are in this six to eight-hour window, you can determine if you need more sleep by listening to your body.

Bad mood, anxiety and emotional instability, for example, are indicators of lack of sleep. Also, if you are sleepy during the day (except in the afternoon), this is another sign that you are not getting enough rest. Same thing if you fall asleep as soon as your head touches the pillow, in the space of one or two minutes. A well-rested person needs five or ten minutes to fall asleep at night. If you have insomnia or feel sick all the time due to lack of sleep, see a doctor.

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