How Sleep Affects My Mental Health
Sleep affects my mental health and that's difficult for me to say because I'm guilty of discounting simple remedies for mental illness. I would always see something like changing a sleep pattern as simple in comparison to the complex nature of mental illness. I couldn't understand how one could truly make a difference on the other and saw people suggesting that it could as a gross misunderstanding of mental illness and ultimately a perpetuation of stigma. But sometimes the simple solutions are the ones we need to alleviate the symptoms and improve mental wellbeing, which is what I learned recently when I realized how much sleep affects my mental health.
Changes in Sleep Affects My Mental Health
While I've never discouraged people from trying the simple remedies — sleeping and eating better, exercising more — when looking for help with their mental illnesses, I had never thought those were for me. It wasn't until just last week that I really recognized how these things can affect my overall mental health. I've already written about how exercise makes a difference for me. My newest revelation comes from recognizing how much sleep affects my mental health, and I don't just mean in the sense of being cranky.
Last week, I was put on a new work schedule for additional training — one that means waking up earlier. Within two days, I felt the effects of having to get up earlier and start getting ready for work. My mood was dark, I felt more anxious, and I was more susceptible to negative thoughts. Each of those is regular occurrences for me anyway, but with my sleep pattern interrupted, it was all stronger and weighed more heavily.
The moment I noticed that I knew I would have to be more vigilant with monitoring my thoughts and practicing self-care to make up for the disruption. It was at that moment as well that I realized the small pieces of advice such as sleeping better may not always be driven by stigma after all.
Find Which Remedies Positively Affect Your Mental Health
Try It Before You Knock It
Could people offering that advice have stigma-based reasons for doing so? Absolutely. Some people do think the simple suggestion will be curative, which isn't the case. There is no cure for mental illness, but changing your sleeping, eating, or exercise patterns may alleviate some of the symptoms or help you keep them under better control. Nonetheless, what I've learned through this is that I shouldn't discredit these pieces of advice so quickly (and I should rework my sleeping pattern for this shift).
My advice to you is this: even if something feels like stigma, take a moment to really examine it. Reflect on times when you've gone through something like I have. If it ends up the advice truly is stigma, that's no problem, just discard it and move on. Sometimes, it will also be the case that the suggestion simply doesn't work for you (there are plenty that don't work for me). That's fine too.
But if it's something that could positively affect your mental health, wouldn't you want to at least give it a shot?
Barton, L. (2018, August 17). How Sleep Affects My Mental Health, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, August 18 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/survivingmentalhealthstigma/2018/8/how-sleep-affects-my-mental-health
Author: Laura Barton
Thanks for your comment! It's strange how much of a difference such a simple thing can make! It's about finding that right balance.