Sleep is a powerful tool for reducing stress and improving mental health. Following a regular SLEEP routine can help to calm and restore the body, improve concentration, regulate mood, and sharpen judgment and decision-making. Studies have shown that when we get enough rest, we are better able to cope with stress and solve problems more effectively. Unfortunately, many people are not getting the sleep they need.
Millennials report poorer sleep habits than other adults, while teens who sleep less than eight hours a school night often report increased stress levels. Adults with higher stress levels fare even worse, with 45% feeling even more stressed if they don't get enough sleep. The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) has found that sleep loss leads to increased cortisol the next night. During sleep, the brain also consolidates memory so that it can be remembered correctly when we wake up.
This can become part of our everyday reality as soon as we take the time to get a good night's sleep and reduce stress. If someone is having difficulty sleeping during stressful times or still feels tired after a full night's sleep, they should know that they are not alone. Teens with lower levels of stress reported during the last school year are more likely than highly stressed adolescents to say they have excellent or very good quality sleep. When they don't get enough sleep, more than half of teens (53 percent) report feeling slow or lazy and 42 percent say they feel irritable.
Not only does sleep affect what elevated cortisol affects; if it remains high, it can lead to headaches, high blood pressure, and even sleep problems, exacerbating the problem. Mental health professionals can help address underlying anxiety or mood disorders that may be affecting sleep. It is important to remember that while sleep can be difficult during difficult periods, it is also important not to let it get in the way. Taking the time to get enough rest can help us cope with stress and improve our overall mental health.