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The Power of Sleep: The Role that Sleep Plays in Our Mental Health & Wellbeing

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In today’s culture, we are constantly on the go. We have deadlines to meet at work, exams to complete at school, and have to attend to the many other responsibilities that life throws at us. When our energy levels are depleted, it is normal for mental health challenges to arise. When we aren’t getting enough sleep, anxiety and depression can certainly spike. So exactly what role does sleep play in our overall health and wellbeing?

Sleep is just as important to our wellbeing as eating nourishing food, staying hydrated, and exercising. In fact, sleep allows for our bodies to repair and for our brains to stay sharp. Lack of sleep has been linked to an increase in mental health problems for individuals and a weakened immune system. When we aren’t getting enough sleep, our brains are unable to function properly, due to our neurons being overworked with no down time. Long-term impacts of sleep deprivation can even put some at higher risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Studies have also highlighted that sleep deprivation can lead to other cognitive challenges such as forming incorrect memories, diminished creativity, and increase of migraines.

Lack of sleep has especially been known to worsen anxious and depressive symptoms. Whenever my clients share that they are struggling with anxiety and/or depression, the first thing that I assess for is their sleeping patterns. As tempting as it can be to stay up late and watch TikTok videos or binge watch Bridgerton on Netflix, it is imperative that we are being mindful of how much time we are allowing ourselves for sleep. If you are struggling with falling asleep at night, here are some of my favorite sleep hacks:

· Engaging in grounding practices throughout the day (mindfulness, deep breathing, etc.)

· Keep the temperature in your bedroom between 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit

· Limit caffeine & alcohol intake

· No food 3-4 hours before bed

· Meditation or breathwork before bed

· Put your phone on night shift

· Maintain low lights in your room a couple hours for bed

· Use a diffuser with essential oils (lavender, rosemary, jasmine,, etc.)

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