The Undeniable Connection Between Sleep & Mental Health

Young woman laying on a bed

When the daytime version of yourself suffers, the snuggly nighttime version feels the impact. Though we might not always want to admit it, our mental and emotional health directly affects how much and how well we sleep at night. 

Consider this: when an upsetting or stressful event happens during your day, perhaps at work or in your personal life, how does your mood change? If you’re one of the lucky ones, the unfortunate incident may be a blip on your radar. But if you’re more like the majority of Americans, you may often ruminate on it. It can even hold a place in your thoughts well after you turn out the light. 

The problem with inviting anxiety and stress into your bed is that you create a cycle: bad sleeps followed by bad days from being overtired can be challenging to break. 

The Impact of Sleep Deprivation On Our Moods

As a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker, therapist, and someone who does not come by restful sleep easily, I’ve learned a lot about the connection between sleep and mental health. According to Harvard Health Publishing, there are more than 70 types of sleep disorders, nearly all of which directly connect to mental health issues – that’s a lot of sheep to count! 

The most obvious explanation for this connection between mental health and sleep is that we naturally feel an increase in negative moods when we’re sleep-deprived. Think anger, sadness, anxiety, frustration, impatience, irritability, and lack of motivation. 

Sleep impacts emotional regulation – when we’re rested and alert, we’re better equipped to manage anxiety, stress, and other negative emotions.

Practicing Cognitive Reframing to Promote Positive Thinking

The ultimate question to answer is how you can start improving your mental health today to promote a better night’s sleep tonight. My own sleep patterns were suffering at the height of the pandemic from extreme stress and anxiety.

Cognitive reframing is a psychological technique and coping skill that I often use with my clients (and for myself) that can work wonders. The strategy involves challenging negative thoughts and emotions to change your mindset and improve your mood. 

By reframing your negative experiences to extract the positivity from them, you are taking control of your narrative to shift your thinking and, therefore, decrease your anxiety. 

Check out the following options for various cognitive strategies you can use to reframe your thoughts:

  • Actively notice negative thoughts in your head. Awareness is key, so identifying them is the first step towards changing them.
  • Ask yourself the right questions. Is this thought 100% accurate? Is this thought helpful? What will I gain from accepting this thought? What will I lose?
  • Exchange each negative thought for a positive one. Replace “I cannot” or “I will not” with “I can” or “I will.”
  • Practice gratitude. Ask yourself what you are grateful for today and focus on one person, place, thing, or experience at a time.
  • Repeat positive affirmations such as “Everything will be okay” or “I let go of my worry” out loud before bedtime to center your thoughts.

The best advice I can give for cognitive reframing is to practice, practice, practice. Change doesn’t happen overnight. Reframing your thoughts is an ongoing process. 

To learn even more tips for improving your mental health and promoting deep, healthy sleep, follow Equip Sleeping Co. on Instagram or subscribe to our newsletter.