by Tony Gjokaj August 21, 2020 3 min read

According to the CDC, one-third of US adults don't get enough sleep in their lives. As a result, we encounter a lot of health issues with not just physical health, but mental health as well.

Sleep plays a large role in mental health. In fact, poor sleep can lead to issues with depression, anxiety, stress, and more.

One of the biggest challenges in my early teens was the inability to fall asleep. I had issues with insomnia and depression, which also impeded my sleep.

In this post, we are going to dive into how sleep affects our mind and body.

Let's dive in! 

Sleep and Depression

There is an inverse relationship when it comes to sleep and depression. With symptoms of depression, it is difficult to sleep... and sleep-deprivation has been shown to cause depression.

We have to think of sleep as restorative. It takes out the waste our brains accumulate and help us recover. 

Sleep and Anxiety

Anxiety is a huge issue that a lot of us are encountering today. Among most 18 to 25-year olds, more than half encounter anxiety challenges. In addition, most 18 to 25-year olds are also sleep deprived... and there is a correlation between the two.

According to one study, poor sleep has a correlation with anxiety disorders. I can attest to this from my teenage years, where most of my anxiety and depression was because I did not sleep well.

Most of my friends and people I previously coached in exercise dealt with anxiety issues as a result of their 5-6 hours of sleep.

Sleep and Stress

When you aren't getting enough sleep, your stress and fatigue levels elevate. In fact, poor sleep makes it more difficult to manage or cope with stress.

On average, adults who sleep fewer than 8 hours report higher levels of stress (compared to others who sleep 8 hours). 

Sleep and Weight Gain

According to various studies, poor sleep has a large connection to weight gain and obesity. This is because when we are sleep-deprived, ghrelin (our appetite hormone) spikes and leptin (our appetite suppressor) decreases.

Our bodies start to crave more high-calorie fatty foods to satiate our appetite. However, calorie-dense foods are difficult to satiate appetite with, so we tend to overconsume calories as a result. In fact, according to one meta-analysis, sleep-deprived individuals consumed on average 385 extra calories.

This is why it's super important to optimize your sleep, and if you're not... you're missing a potential weight loss opportunity.

Overcoming Sleep Challenges

Most of these issues have an inverse relationship with sleep, where you have trouble getting enough sleep when you encounter anxiety or depression. The only solution is to build sleep pressure so that you allow yourself to get well-needed sleep.

Here are six ways to improve your sleep and build sleep pressure with lifestyle changes:

  1. Exercise Frequently. Exercise helps reduce stress and improves mood.
  2. Eat Better. Nutrient-dense foods help with mood, sleep quality, and more.
  3. Get Some Sunlight. Just 15-30 minutes of sunlight build serotonin, which helps with sleep and overall mood.
  4. Avoid Caffeine 4-8 Hours Before Bed. As caffeine is a stimulant that keeps you awake, we don't recommend having it a few hours before bed.
  5. Establish a Night Routine. Unwind at the end of the day with meditation, reading books, or relaxation exercises.
  6. Avoid Technology Before Bed. Remove technology in your face before bed, as blue light from our phones and television keeps us awake.

    Making good lifestyle changes will help with your sleep, but always seek help from a professional if you continue to struggle with proper sleep.

    Thanks for reading Reforged Legion!

    Any questions or comments? Throw them below or email me at tony@reforgedperformance.com!

      Tony Gjokaj
      Tony Gjokaj

      Tony is the Owner of Reforged Performance Nutrition. He is a PN1 Certified Nutrition Coach and has been in the fitness space for over a decade. His goal is to help bridge the gap between physical & mental health through fitness.



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