Sleep and mental health are linked: mental illness can affect sleep and lack of sleep can affect mental health. For example, anxiety can cause insomnia and insomnia can cause anxiety.
Sleep patterns can give clues that mental illness is present or developing. Sleeping poorly over a long period, having trouble going to sleep and frequently waking up early may all be symptoms – or causes – of anxiety or depression. Poor sleep can also be a signal of a manic episode in people with bipolar disorder. Someone with schizophrenia may sleep very poorly when they’re stressed.
Happily, there are simple things you can do to improve your sleep:
- Go to bed and get up at the same time each day so your body clock is set to a routine.
- Don't nap during the day, tempting as it is when you’re worn out.
- Relax quietly for an hour before you go to bed.
- Try not to drink caffeine in the five hours before you go to bed or take other stimulants such as illegal drugs.
- Try not to rely on alcohol to help you fall asleep – alcohol actually disturbs your sleep (and relying on it to do anything can lead to dependency).
If you persistently have trouble sleeping, see your doctor.
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