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How Sleep Affects your Mental and Physical Health

Many people underestimate the importance of sleep, but it is no secret that getting enough shut-eye plays a big part in good mental and physical health. Exhaustive studies link poor sleep posture or lack of sleep to a range of issues such as depression and obesity, but one thing is for sure: proper, healthy sleep is important for helping us feel pain-free, happy and ready for the day ahead.

The following conditions are just a few of the many mental and physical health setbacks caused by improper sleep habits/routines:

Muscle Aches/Pains

How you sleep can have a major impact on your muscles and joints, so it’s vital to get in a position that promotes the best night's sleep. Sleeping wrong can cause immense pain and discomfort. In fact, sleeping poorly is one of the most common causes of neck pain, which can radiate into the shoulders and down the whole spine.

Although there is no one-size-fits-all sleeping position, finding the most neutral way that keeps your body supported will decrease the likelihood of discomfort. Sleeping on your back is known to be the most optimal for allowing your body to rest in natural alignment. Sleeping on your side has been known to help those suffering from arthritis and carpal tunnel. Lastly, sleeping on your stomach may reduce sleep apnea, but it puts a lot of pressure on and tension on your muscles. If you experience muscle ache and pain, consider switching up your sleeping posture to find one that suits you best.

Anxiety is a feeling of worry and unease. It’s normal to experience anxiety occasionally in response to fearful or stressful situations.1 People with anxiety may feel extremely nervous and on edge. This can affect their concentration and mood, leading to irritability and restlessness. Their fear or sense of impending doom can feel overwhelming and out of control.

Integrating relaxation exercises into one’s sleep routine may help to both manage and increase the likelihood of a good night’s rest. Yoga, deep breathing and mindfulness meditation are a few approaches to relaxation that can help put your mind at ease before bed.

Depression is feelings of sadness, disappointment, or hopelessness. In many cases, this is a healthy reaction to life’s challenges. Normally, these feelings come in waves when tied to thoughts or reminders of challenging situations. It typically will only last for a brief period, and will not interfere with school, work, or relationships.

People who suffer from insomnia experience a greater chance of developing depression. Maintaining a regular sleep schedule to ensure a full night of uninterrupted rest, is one way to prevent insomnia. This is done simply through constancy in bed and wake time. Additionally, maintaining an exercise regime has been shown to decrease symptoms of both insomnia and depression, making it an excellent choice for improving sleep and mental health.

Studies have shown that adults who sleep less than their peers are more likely to be overweight or obese. The two hormones produced during sleep are ghrelin, which makes you feel hungry, and leptin which makes you feel full. Lack of sleep may cause your ghrelin levels to increase and leptin levels to decrease, leading you to feel excessively hungry and overeat.

Some of the many ways of preventing obesity and encouraging sleep hygiene include finding the right mattress that works for you and taking steps to maintain a balanced diet. Opting to go to bed earlier than usual may even help decrease appetite.

Heart Problems
While you sleep, your blood pressure goes down, giving your heart and blood vessels a bit of a rest. Thus, decreased sleep can lead to a higher daily average blood pressure, which in turn may increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.2

Enough restful sleep may lower the levels of cortisol that can contribute to heart problems. Designing a bedroom that accommodates your sleep and postural needs, in addition to avoiding negative influences on sleep such as alcohol and caffeine, are a couple of ways to gain a good night's rest.

The bottom line: longer-term, poor sleep quality and postural habits may lead to a host of health problems. Even if you are not experiencing symptoms now, the health effects of sleep deprivation and improper sleep postures/positions can have major consequences over time. With just a few lifestyle changes, you can see improvement in your sleeping patterns and quality.

If you are experiencing aches and pains following a night's rest, get in touch with one of our certified physical therapists today who can assess and recommend a program that'll help get you pain-free again.

1 Sleep: A Fundamental Cure For Anxiety. (n.d.). Anxiety.org. https://www.anxiety.org/sleep-a-fundamental-cure-for-anxiety


‌ Benefits of Sleep on Mental and Physical Health. (n.d.). Sleep.org. https://www.sleep.org/how-sleep-works/how-losing-sleep-affects-your-body-mind/

‌ RPSGT, K. A., CRT. (n.d.). Lack of Sleep and Depression: Causes and Treatment Options. Www.aastweb.org. Retrieved February 10, 2022, from https://www.aastweb.org/blog/the-relationships-between-lack-of-sleep-and-depression#:~:text=Some%20of%20the%20well-established%20effects%20of%20lack%20of

Cleveland Clinic. (2015, September 18). What Happens to Your Body When You Don’t Get Enough Sleep. Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic; Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/happens-body-dont-get-enough-sleep/

Fletcher, J. (2019, May 31). Why is sleep important? 9 reasons for getting a good night’s rest. www.medicalnewstoday.com. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325353

G. (2019, July 25). How Does Your Sleep Position Affect Your Posture? Healthtian.

2 Pacheco, D. (2020, October 27). Physical Health and Sleep: How Are They Connected? Sleep Foundation. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/physical-health

‌ Suni, E. (2020, December 10). Anxiety and Sleep. Sleep Foundation. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/mental-health/anxiety-and-sleep

RPSGT, K. A., CRT. (n.d.). Lack of Sleep and Depression: Causes and Treatment Options. Www.aastweb.org. https://www.aastweb.org/blog/the-relationships-between-lack-of-sleep-and-depression#:~:text=Some%20of%20the%20well-established%20effects%20of%20lack%20of

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