Lack of sleep or poor quality sleep increases the risk of negative health consequences such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and poor concentration.
The risk of developing mental health problems such as depression or anxiety increases significantly. According to research, insufficient sleep or poor sleep quality even has an impact on our eating behaviour. Sleep and selfcare for men are therefore inevitably linked and we should therefore give our sleep a very high priority.
Why is sleep so important for our mental health?
Many of us probably know the feeling after a sleepless night - in addition to tiredness, there is a sense of restlessness as well as low performance and concentration. With these consequences, it almost seems as if sleep and depression could be connected.And in fact. For a study on the topic of sleep and depression, scientists focused on an area of the brain that could be responsible for this connection. This part of our brain is called the amygdala (corpus amygdaloideum) and is part of the limbic system. This system is our centre of all emotions and controls, for example, our anger, fear and joy. The study found that participants who were sleep deprived for about 35 hours had a stronger amygdala response when presented with emotionally negative images than participants who were not sleep deprived. The connections to the parts of the brain that regulate the amygdala also appeared to be weaker.
Taken together, the findings of the study suggest an increased amygdala response to negative emotional stimuli under sleep deprivation. In simple terms, the sleep-deprived participants were less able to control their emotions.
This is the first scientific explanation of why insufficient sleep can lead to depression and mental health problems. It also shows the importance of Braincare in increasing mental health.
Will sleep improve our mental health?
For some time, it has been suggested that by improving our sleep we can prevent depression and thus enhance our mental health. In a study, the University of Oxford confirmed that an online course on insomnia can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. The course included information about sleep as well as routines and tips about actions to avoid before going to bed. The conclusion of the research is clear: we need to start giving our sleep top priority.
That's why we've put together 5 tips to help you improve your sleep:
💻 1. Minimise exposure to blue light before bedtime
Electronic devices and much of the indoor lighting in our homes and offices emit high-intensity blue light. Your eye sends a message to the brain that the sun is still shining. This is fine in the middle of the day, but it prevents melatonin production when you actually want to go to bed.
🍕 2. Avoid late meals and snacks in the evening
If you eat a meal or snack late in the evening, it will mess up your body clock. The sun has already set and your brain is slowly preparing for sleep. But the clocks in your digestive system are still running at full speed. This is because our body thinks it needs to provide us with energy, while we are actually preparing to go to bed.
🍷 3. Avoid alcohol before going to bed
This for example refers to the classic glass of red wine to help us fall asleep. Alcohol before going to bed makes us feel sleepy. It can even help us fall asleep more easily under certain circumstances, but our quality of sleep suffers a lot. This means you may not feel energised and rested the next day. Alcohol before bed disrupts your circadian rhythm and increases your resting heart rate. It's best to give your body at least 3 hours before bed to break down the alcohol in your body.
🛌🏿 4. Pay Attention to your internal clockOur internal clock needs some time to prepare for going to bed. Therefore, plan some extra time and go to bed 10-15 minutes earlier to reach the bedtime you need. Your body needs time to slowly wind down and get ready to go to sleep. Routines can help you to rest more easily and effectively.
🎶 5. Relax with music
Listening to music can help you relax. It has actually been found to have an effect on the parasympathetic nervous system, the so-called restorative nerve. We've put together a wind-down playlist to get you ready for your bedtime routine and help you fall asleep more easily.
Click here for our Wind Down Playlist: