When my mental health was at its worst, and pressures of work at their highest, I was getting on average 2-3 hours sleep a night. It reached a point when just going to bed filled me with anxiety as I knew that it would take me hours to get to sleep and then at 2am, without fail I would wake up. Bing wide awake and whatever I did I would not be able to get back in to the land of nod.
So instead my working day began at 2am, every day, 7 days a week. Subsequently my body began to just shut down and my brain function decreased dramatically. A mental breakdown was not only inevitable but the only way I would be able to break this vicious cycle and reset my body and mind.
When I had my breakdown the biggest change I made was yoga. I chose to do something positive that is proven to aid relaxation, wellness and sleep. It taught me how to do thorough 'body scans' and relax completely. It taught me breathing techniques to calm my racing heart and racing mind. I also started to take anti-depressants having poo pooed them for years. But I had reached a point where I needed something to assist my body to reset and get well. They helped with my sleep and boy did they work, but also I believe that the simple act for me of taking the medication gave me and my body permission to sleep and once I had that permission it was a revelation.
Don't get me wrong, I still have relapses and poor sleep is an indicator now that my mental health is dipping. But I have come to realise that sleep is not only essential but vital for living completely. Being rested is to me the most powerful, legal drug there is. Oh, and just in case you are interested, I am managing to do it all now without the tablets.
Sleep is central to good mental and physical health and it needs to be central to your own health and fitness programme. If you only focus your time and effort on eating well and exercising you will never achieve the results you seek. So focus for a bit on your sleep.
But what on earth can you do if a good 8 hours sleep is a complete fantasy for you?
Healthy sleep habits can make a big difference in your quality of life. Having healthy sleep habits is often referred to as having good sleep hygiene. Try to keep the following sleep practices on a consistent basis:
For more information and guidance visit the National Sleep Foundation HERE
Articles on Sleep & Mental Health