Understanding How Sleep Shapes Mental Well-being

May 16, 2024

In a world that often glorifies busyness and productivity, it’s easy to overlook the importance of sleep for our mental well-being. We sacrifice it for work, socializing, or binge-watching our favorite shows, often unaware of its profound impact on our mental well-being. Yet, the quality and quantity of sleep we get each night plays a pivotal role in shaping our mental health. Not only is your physical health affected when you don’t get enough sleep, but it also takes a toll on your mental well-being.  Mental well-being and sleep are so closely related that a lack of sleep can often lead to issues such as anxiety or depression. 


The Science Behind Sleep and Mental Well-being 


Sleep is crucial for mental health. While we rest, our brains perform vital functions like consolidating memories, regulating emotions, and clearing toxins. Without enough sleep, these processes are disrupted, potentially leading to mood swings, poor decision-making, and a heightened risk of mental health issues like depression and anxiety. Unfortunately, studies consistently show that Americans struggle to get a good night’s sleep. According to the Institute of Medicine, insomnia — a common sleep disorder that causes one to have trouble falling or staying asleep — occurs in 30 million Americans. 


How Lack of Sleep Affects Mental Well-being 


According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, getting at least seven to eight hours of sleep per night is crucial for maintaining mental health. Research published in Sleep Medicine has established a clear link between sleep disturbances and heightened levels of psychological distress. Therefore, sleep plays a vital role in sharpening cognitive skills like attention, learning, and memory. Consequently, insufficient sleep can impair a person’s ability to cope effectively with everyday stressors. 

Notably, depression and anxiety are among the most prevalent mental health issues associated with inadequate sleep. Depression is characterized by a persistent feeling of sadness or disinterest in activities, significantly impacting daily functioning. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America reports that 50% of individuals diagnosed with depression also suffer from an anxiety disorder. Anxiety involves feelings of tension, accompanied by worrisome thoughts and sometimes physical symptoms like elevated blood pressure or heart rate. These symptoms often manifest repeatedly with anxiety disorders.  


Practical Tips for Better Sleep and Mental Well-being 


Sleep is essential to your mental well-being and overall functioning. Consider the following tips for better sleep: 

  • Keep a consistent sleep schedule. 
  • Set a bedtime. 
  • Only go to bed when you’re tired. 
  • Establish a bedtime routine. 
  • Make your bedroom quiet and relaxing. 
  • Limit exposure to bright light in the evenings. 
  • Turn off electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime. 
  • Don’t eat a large meal before bedtime. 
  • Exercise regularly. 
  • Maintain a healthy diet. 
  • Avoid consuming caffeine in the afternoon or evening. 
  • Avoid consuming alcohol before bedtime. 
  • Reduce your fluid intake before bedtime. 

Getting proper sleep is extremely important to improving and maintaining good mental well-being. By prioritizing rest and adopting healthy sleep habits, we can nurture our minds and bodies, setting the stage for improved mental well-being and overall quality of life. Remember, a good night’s sleep is not just a luxury—it is a fundamental pillar of mental well-being that deserves our attention and care.  


At Shepherd Insurance, we are proud to take proactive steps to prioritize the mental well-being of our clients and employees, recognizing the critical role that mental health plays in overall well-being amidst a culture that often overlooks self-care. We understand that supporting mental well-being extends beyond insurance solutions. We are dedicated to promoting practical strategies for better sleep and overall mental well-being. Our dedicated well-being team offers resources and guidance that empower individuals to cultivate healthy habits that enhance their quality of life. Contact populationhealth@shepherdins.com if you are interested in learning more about our company’s well-being initiatives. 


If you’re concerned about your mental well-being, talk to your doctor or a licensed mental health professional or contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Helpline by calling 800-662-HELP (4357).