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Wed, March 20

The intersection between sleep and mental health

Sleep is essential for many basic human needs that promote mental health. Sufficient sleep:

• Allows the brain and the body to heal

• Reduces stress that can lead to chronic disease, which can trigger depression

• Improves mood, alertness, problem solving, concentration, judgment, memory and appetite

• Decreases impulsivity and susceptibility to distraction

The Arizona Department of Health Services website features quarterly initiatives that address a physical health issue in combination with a mental health issue. One of the topics they address centers around proper "sleep hygiene" and how it can be connected to and impacted by one's mental health.

If your sleep is interrupted when you are stressed, you are not alone. In fact, 75 percent of people who say anxiety and stress interrupt their sleep also say their sleep problems increase their anxiety and stress. It can be a vicious cycle, but one you can impact with a few good sleep habits - also known as better "sleep hygiene." Try the tips below and see if your sleep improves.

• Go to bed and get up at the same times every day, even on weekends.

• Dim lights an hour before bedtime. Keep the bedroom dark and cool while sleeping. Brighten lights as soon as you wake up.

• Don't go to bed hungry or too full.

• Limit or avoid caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine. These all can disrupt sleep.

• The light emitted by electronics can suppress production of melatonin, a hormone that supports sleep.

• Exercise regularly, but not close to bedtime.

• Manage stress so the brain is calm before sleep.

• Use the bedroom only for sleep and sex

For more information on sleep hygiene or other issues with an intersection between physical and mental health, go to www.azdhs.gov/bhs/qhi.

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