Nurture Habits to Support Our Mental Health!
Everybody wants to be the person that can always be relied on. That solid person that seems to be able to ride every storm without flinching. But like all things that person needs to be cared for and nurtured. Otherwise we crumble. Create time for self care, to rest and sleep otherwise sleep deprivation impacts our mental health!
Sleep depravation occurs when we have an inadequate quality or quantity of sleep either due to choice, circumstances or a medical condition.
“Sleep is that golden chain that ties health and our bodies together”Thomas Dekker
Many years ago a university friend of mine was studying to be a Doctor, his name was Mike. It was no secret that he was a high achiever with dreams of being a world famous surgeon.
Graduating from university he was so excited to start his career as a resident Doctor in a busy city hospital. Before long the glamour of what he thought the job would be had disappeared. Working long hours became the norm. Every 3 weeks him and his fellow residents would be required to work 3 days and nights straight to be the on -call Doctor.
They worked from Friday through to Sunday doing ward rounds during the day, attending to trauma and being on call during the rest of the time to support the patients and other medical team in the hospital.
During this time it was common for Mike to struggle with his workload. Making mistakes were not uncommon, being grumpy and irritable as well as overthinking due to a slowing down of his thought processes due to fatigue. He was always yawning and would zone out when people were talking to him. He would always apologise but he was unable to stop himself.
Most of the time he was exhausted and dragged himself around. Living on coffee and chocolate to keep him “functioning”. His weight increased as his diet consisted of non healthy choices due to ease and instant energy gain. It wasn’t long before his sleep patterns became erratic and found sleeping difficult, his norm had become maybe a 2 -3 hour sleep in a 24 hour period. Catnapping when he could.
Research shows that sleep disorders costs the Australian economy over $66 billion per year in health care, loss of wellbeing and indirect costs. 40% of the adult Australian population suffer from sleep disorders. They also contribute to depression, stroke, workplace injuries and motor vehicle accidents.
– 53% of Australian adults have a medical condition that impacts their sleep habits and quality
– 52% of Australians claim they are less motivated, irritable and cant concentrate after a poor nights sleep
– 18% of Australians use prescription medication to aid sleep
Circadian Rhythms – This is our internal body clock that regulates us to feel sleepy at night and awake during the day. Being exposed to sunlight helps adjust our clock with night and day. Finally, when the body is ready to sleep a hormone melatonin is raised and the core body temperature lowers. As the rhythms align in the body and with the environment provides the best opportunity for quality sleep. It has been found that when our body clocks are out of alignment, this negatively affects health and wellbeing.
Did you Know?
– 8 hours of sleep per night is the average an adult should aim for
– Our brains are active when we sleep
– Sleep cycles last around 90 minutes and change throughout our sleep
Pulling it Together!
So we know that the research links lack of sleep to increased health effects such as anxiety, depression, weigh gain and poor cognitive function to mention a few. We also know that our body and mind and intricately connected so when our body is impacted our mind is also impacted. Ultimately sleep deprivation impacts our mental health!
Mike’s story highlights how we can push our body and mind to extraordinary levels when we become deprived of sleep. The body also works hard to normalise our current situation. However the research confirms that long term exposure to sleep deprivation has an adverse effect on our mental and physical health.
Find out for yourself. Take some steps to prevent sleep deprivation and improve mental health. Correct and re-balance your body and mind by beginning with some simple steps added to a daily routine:-
- Reduce your intake of stimulants such as caffeine and alcohol
- Relax before you go to bed, listen to calming music, reading a favourite novel or meditate. Avoid using all electronic devices.
- Make sure your sleeping area is a comfortable temperature, with a quality mattress, a comfy pillow and darken your room to aid sleep.
The responsibility of our health is in our control, our responsibility and affected by the choices we make. All the tools we need are within us no, its about acknowledging them and taking action now!