Begin with Sleep
As our everyday surroundings become inundated with advertisements to medicinally tackle mental illness, it’s easy to forget that many of the answers to well-being are free, easily accessible and natural. One of them is as comfortable as a just-washed down comforter, bamboo sheets and a mountain of pillows. Looking for overall wellness? Begin with sleep!!
Among the most basic of survival functions, restful sleep can double as a weapon of mass destruction against mental illness. It comes down to the same biochemical targets aimed at by the pharmaceutical industries, only sleep costs nothing and negative side effects are obsolete.
Why is sleep so important
Circadian rhythm, or as many of us know it, the ‘body clock’ is the compass within us that tells our body when to sleep, wake up and eat, among many other basic physiological processes. How does it know? Sunlight, darkness, temperature and other biological changes within the body signal to the brain that it’s time for rest, food energy, and wakefulness with very precise timing. Think of a car and the signals you see on your dashboard when it’s time to change the oil, refill for gas or stop for a cool down due to overheating. If those signals are ignored, you can end up broken down on the side of the road with a thirsty engine or even motor damage. The human body’s functions work similarly. If the circadian rhythm is disrupted when our bodies don’t follow that internal clock, our mental health and balance are thrown off, which can be a major factor that leads to mood disorders, immune system breakdowns and physical ailments. To keep the body functioning at optimal level is to begin with sleep.
What happens when we sleep
While we sleep, although or bodies are almost at a 100% standstill, our minds and physiological systems are hard at work performing various functions involving the removal of toxins, reparation of cells, consolidation of memory and processing of information from the previous day. If these functions are not wholly implemented with adequate sleep, the following day often results in cranky moods, coffee dependence, impulsive decision-making, fuzzy concentration, decreased creativity and even a weakened immune system to name a few. The accumulation of these sleepless byproducts in turn begins to build a platform for more permanent mental damage that can lead to illness like depression or anxiety. If there is a history of past trauma, obtaining good restorative sleep may be near impossible. Even worse, these mental illnesses only perpetuate the sleep disruption, sending one further down the black hole of a choppy circadian rhythm, making it harder to get back on the right track.
Being proactive is key
The protective barrier of sleep is a must within our daily routines if we aim to be healthy and balanced individuals. Of course 7-8 hours of daily sleep won’t be an instant fix for any mental health disorders however it’s a definite factor that should be included in a balanced life. With adequate sleep should come proper nutrition and exercise with the added bells and whistles of mindfulness, grounding and meditation you’ve got a proactive health routine. Going proactive with your health helps prevent prescriptions, doctor and hospital visits which are typically factors of a reactive health routine. It’s recommended to stop any ill-health symptoms before they start!
The remedies to a healthy balance of mind, body and soul can be as simple as intentionally making the choice to sleep adequately. Of course, changes in life-long habits may not come easy, and popping a pill may sound more convenient. However, understanding and digesting the long-term benefits of a clean, nourished and rested body should be enough to reject the medicine cabinet and into a more holistic balance for a better quality of life. Making daily use of your Mental Health Toolbox and taking the initiative to seek help with implementing healthy habits are great first steps in solidifying a consistent balance and healthy mental and physical state-of-being. I’m here to support your journey. Begin with sleep!!