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Why sleep is important for your mental health

Weighing scales depicting one person with a lot of sleep and another with a lack of sleep

This blog post was produced in partnership with The Sleep Help Institute - a trusted provider of sleep resources and sleep-related product reviews. 

Sleep issues are very common for many of us who deal with mental illness on a daily basis. You might sleep way too much, or not be able to sleep at all when you’re at your lowest points. Either one would make it very difficult for you to function in society, and they can also make it even harder for you to get sleep. Here are some of the ways that lack of sleep could be negatively impacting your mental health.

How are Sleep and Mental Health Linked?

Lack of sleep amps up stress reactions

When we are tired, we are going to get stressed much more easily. Everything from an unexpected phone call to a minor disaster has the possibility of overwhelming us during the day. This is much more likely to trigger a stress response from our bodies.

Lack of sleep amps up feelings of depression

It is flat out harder to be happier when we are exhausted. Our bodies are so focused on figuring out a way to function without sleep that they won’t allow us to spend energy on being happy. It makes it much harder for you to pull yourself out of the doldrums and remember the happy things going on around you.

Lack of sleep increases feelings of pain

In addition to increasing the likelihood of a stress response, going without sleep can also cause you to feel pain more strongly. This means that if you have any sort of chronic pain or a headache, it’s going to be more of a problem for you.

So, what can you do to improve your sleep?

Improve your sleeping environment

The best thing you can do for yourself is to improve your sleep space. Replacing your pillows and mattress with something that actually supports you the way you need it to will do wonders to help you sleep. Another great thing to do for both your sleep and mental health is to clean your bedroom. It will make you feel significantly better.

Schedule sleep

Our minds and bodies do really well when we give them routines. With that in mind, you should set yourself a bedtime and wake up time that you can stick to every day of the week. You can also build a before-bed routine to help you to relax. All of this will help you to get used to going to bed at the same time, which helps your body to produce the correct amount of melatonin.

Seek treatment for your mental health

Lack of sleep will cause a lot of problems for your mental health, which will, in turn, make major problems for the quantity and quality of sleep that you get. If you find that that is the case for you, you should absolutely seek treatment or a treatment change for your mental health issues. Once you find a treatment plan that will actually help you with your mental health, you can work on the physical issues troubling you as well.

NO phones before bed

Many of us will relax on our mobile phones before hitting the sack but it has been proven that this negatively impacts the quality of our sleep. Swap your phone for a book or listen to a podcast! 


Scientist Matt Walker recently presented at an official TED conference recently, the topic of his talk? The importance of sleep! In this deep dive into the science of slumber, Walker shares the wonderfully good things that happen when you get sleep - and the alarmingly bad things that happen when you don't, for both your brain and body. 

Watch the video below: 

Sleep is your superpower | Matt Walker

How Can Employers Help Employees with their Sleep and Mental Health?

Minimize out-of-office work requirements 

Allowing your employees to spend their off the clock time actually off the clock will make a huge difference to their mental health and sleep quality.

Offer mental health days off

Many employees feel they cannot take time off to deal with mental illness. If you offer this time off and encourage your employees to take the time they need, you can help them to be their happiest, healthiest selves.

Teach the importance of sleep

You can promote healthy sleeping habits in the workplace quite easily through posters, regular emails or even by sharing Matt Walkers video with your staff - it’s a good wake up call! 

Mental health awareness training

A simple, cost-effective way of raising awareness of mental ill-health in workplaces is through mental health awareness training. Our IOSH Approved eLearning course can be completed in just 40 minutes and teaches users how to break the stigma surrounding mental ill-health, understand different illnesses and how happier staff make more productive staff! 

Mental Health Awareness Training