In this fast-paced Western society where we are constantly connected and 247 available, information flows to us every day and the hope of responding instantly is growing. With all of this in mind, there is a growing need for us to work or work on our mental health not only at ‘normal’ or ‘acceptable’ levels, but also at ‘proper’ levels.
Optimal means that we are working at the highest levels mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually, which means we are better able to cope with the demands of life. If we work at the sub-optimal level, it will be very difficult for us to perform even the basic functions of life.
So how do we determine what our health and well-being levels should be?
An important factor in long-term mental health and wellness is making sure we have 7-9 hours of good quality Sleep For one night.
Sleep improves the body. It can have a positive knock-on effect on how you act cognitively over the next and subsequent days. When we fall asleep, we fall asleep in cycles of 60-90 minutes. At that point we sway between deep (so-called delta) sleep, where the body repairs itself and light REM sleep.
REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, or light sleep, transfers information from your short-term memory to your long-term memory. This will help you to better remember the information you perceive on a daily basis. During this REM phase of sleep your eyes move rapidly from side to side (hence the name) and you are dreaming.
Getting to bed at the right time (10pm) and getting a good night’s sleep can help control your circadian rhythm. Your circadian rhythm is your natural body clock that gives you signals when it is time to go to sleep and when it is time to wake up. Working shift patterns (especially night shifts) can upset the balance which can have major consequences not only for your mental and physical health but also for your gut health.
Lack of quality sleep means that instead of being fully awake and energetic during the day, you may not be able to focus on sleepy, sluggish and substantial time. In addition, you may feel ‘tired and tired’ when you sleep at night (meaning your body is physically tired, but your mind is well awake and you can’t sleep).
Melatonin, the hormone that prepares your body for sleep, and serotonin (your wake hormone) you need to have a balance to function optimally throughout the day. This means that melatonin naturally carries you throughout the day when serotonin is released from 9pm (to help you fall asleep) to 7am. When this melatonin, serotonin cycle is balanced you will be fully awake during the day and sleep at night (when it should be). This just means you get a good mid-night sleep.
So try to underestimate the power of quality sleep if you value your health and well-being. Good quality sleep not only helps us to function more effectively, it also boosts our immunity, helps prevent viruses and other infections, and also helps us to catch up easily with low levels and sleep quality.
Sleep is one of the basic pillars of excellent health and well-being. Without it, over time we can not only function equally, but also open ourselves up to chronic comprehensive conditions such as ME, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Fibromyalgia. These conditions can be depressing and, if not kept in check, can make us bed bound or wheelchair bound.
So one important way to take care of your mental health in the long run is to make sure you go to bed at the right time to increase your chances of getting a good night, not just your 7-9 hours. Sleep.