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Does My Bedtime Affect My Mental Health?

Does bedtime affect mental health

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Can your mental health be affected by your bedtime? We all know the age old mandate about “early to bed, early to rise,” and “get your 6-8 hours every night,” and so on, but how much does your bedtime matter?

Beware of sleep deprivation

First, let’s talk about not getting enough sleep and your mental health. It’s common knowledge that sleep deprivation can impact the quality of your mental health and psychological state, as sleep and mental well-being go hand in hand.

Experts will tell you that if you frequently feel sleepy throughout the day or experience what are known as “microsleeps” (i.e., briefly drifting off into a light doze throughout the day, even momentarily), then sleep-deprivation or a sleep disorder may be something you need to look into. Other signs that you’re not getting enough sleep include: trouble falling asleep (i.e., insomnia), not waking up feeling rested, pounding coffee, tea, soda, or energy drinks to get through the day, fighting to stay awake while driving or during normal activities like watching a movie, trouble with your memory, waking up in the wee hours of the morning and then having trouble going back to sleep (a.k.a., terminal insomnia).

Some facts about problematic sleep and mental health follow.

  • Problematic sleeping is a sign of depression. Problematic sleep is a common symptom of depression, and it also contributes to it. From 65 to 90 percent of adults (and about 90 percent of children) in the U.S. with clinical depression are likely to have some degree of difficulty getting a good night’s sleep. Usually, the problem is insomnia, but about 20 percent of problematic sleepers have problems with sleep apnea. Hypersomnia (e.g., severe fatigue throughout the day) is also commonly reported by individuals with depression.
  • Concerns regarding sleep are more likely to affect individuals with mental health problems. Ongoing problematic sleep affects between 50 to 80 percent of those with mental disorders and from 10 to 18 percent of adults in the U.S. Treating a sleep disorder may help mitigate the effects of depressive symptoms, and vice versa.
  • Anxiety and problematic sleep are often co-occurring. Disordered sleep affects more than half of adults with generalized anxiety disorder and is also typical among those with bi-polar disorderpanic disorder, phobic disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Anxiety can also fuel problematic sleep, taking the form of nightmares and/or insomnia, while sleep deprivation can increase the risk for the individual to develop an anxiety disorder.

Bigger answers for bigger bedtime questions

Now… Here’s a deeper question. If you get enough hours of sleep in, does it matter what time you go to bed?

The human body produces a wide range of molecular processes, including hormone levels and core body temperature, as well as sleeping and waking up. It is impacted by genes as well as many lifestyle factors including exposure to artificial light, jobs, activities, and diet.

A 2018 broad genetics study conducted by researchers at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom reports that individuals who are genetically inclined to wake up early are linked to a greater sense of being content with life, and with a lowered risk for depression and schizophrenia.

The researchers found results indicating that if you’re a “night owl,” chances are good that you could be at greater risk to develop some sort of mental health issue. Night owls have a tendency to constantly push back against their own bodies’ natural clock, which can be exhausting, especially for those who have to be at work or school early in the morning.

Good news for all the evening types out there, however. Though previous research linked poor sleeping habits to a higher risk for obesity and diabetes, this newest research did not find any links between these health issues and body clock genes.

It’s noteworthy that this new research underscores the need for further study of the link between someone’s genetic disposition to being an early versus a late riser and his or her mental health.

So I can just start going to bed earlier, right?

Can you just start going to bed and waking up earlier? Well, it’s not that simple. You have what’s known as a chronotype, also known as your tendency to fall asleep and rise at a certain time, and this is largely determined genetically.

Differences between early and late risers have to do with differences in the ways our brains react to external light signals as well as the normal functioning of our internal clocks. There’s not a lot to be done to change this.

There are some things you can do, however if you’re a night owl and want to get in the habit of hitting the sack earlier in order to arise earlier the next morning. It may take a week or two for your body clock to adapt to the change in schedule.

  • Be consistent. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every night and day.
  • Try going to bed an hour or two earlier, though this may not always be realistic.
  • Do something consistently every single night before bed, like taking a hot shower, brushing your teeth, reading with a dim light on, doing some gentle yoga stretches, or practicing some mindful breathing meditation.
  • Avoid alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine after about 4-6 p.m.
  • Get out into the natural light throughout the day, and get some exercise in (at least 30 minutes) at some point every day. Three 10-minute exercise sessions spread out through the day are just as effective as one 30-minute session.
  • Use your bedroom only for sleep; avoid having a desk or keeping a laptop in your room, and avoid using your cellphone right before bed as much as possible.

Are you anxious about your lack of sleep? Is your lack of sleep making your depression and/or anxiety worse? Depression and anxiety are both treatable, and their treatment usually leads to a better night’s sleep. If you or someone close to you need to talk to someone about mental health issues that seem overwhelming, we can help. Consider reaching out to our expert team at Solara Mental Health at 844-600-9747.

Can You Treat Mental Illness with Psychedelics?

psychedelic drugs could well be the future of mental illness treatment

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Hallucinogens can provide a treatment solution for mental disorders?

Most people associate psychoactive drugs with hippies from the 60s, with all night rave party goers, perhaps with music festivals like Burning Man, or with burnout slacker cult heroes from TV shows and movies (Remember Jeff Bridges’ line from The Big Lebowski? When asked what he does for “recreation,” he mumbles something about how he likes to “Bowl… drive around..       . [and enjoy] the occasional acid flashback…”).

In the not too distant future, however, hallucinogenic substances may be a go-to method for mental health professionals as they help their patients working through mental health issues such as social anxiety and grief to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression.

Like the majority of antidepressant medications, hallucinogens affect how the brain utilizes serotonin, the brain chemical relevant to memory, sleep, and mood. Different from antidepressants, however, hallucinogens appear to change how different parts of the brain communicate with one other – that may be why many individuals who have taken hallucinogens take away a “significantly altered sense of self,” not to mention an increased degree of “open-mindedness.”

Powerful tools

Psychoactive drugs are among the most powerful substances known, and can have potent effects on the central nervous system. Like any powerful tool, they can be either hazardous or of benefit. If they are administered properly and monitored, they have shown potential to be extremely beneficial.

Research into psychedelics

According to researchers, when combined appropriately with psychotherapy, psychedelics such as MDMA (ecstasy), LSD, psilocybin (“magic mushrooms”), and ayahuasca have been known to improve symptoms of depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Research continues to help us better understand the possible benefits of these substances, while psychologists help bring awareness to any possibly related cultural, ethical, and clinical questions associated with using them.

MDMA. Another study’s findings reflect that symptoms of social anxiety in autistic adults may be manageable with a combination of MDMA and psychotherapy. The results of the MDMA and psychotherapy treatments showed positive results for months, and even years in some cases, for the majority of the research subjects. Notably, social anxiety, which is common among autistic adults, has seen few if any effective treatment options.

LSD,  psilocybin, and ayahuasca. Research studies have also delved into how people coping with depression, anxiety, and eating disorders may benefit from psychotherapy coupled with monitored doses of LSD, psilocybin, and ayahuasca.

In one study, participants discussed past experiences with hallucinogens, in terms of their relationship with their emotions, and their spirituality. The use of psychedelics was reported by the vast majority of participants to be associated with greater levels of spirituality, leading to enhanced emotional stability, and subsequently fewer symptoms of depression, anxiety, and disordered eating.

More on ayahuasca. Other research studies have indicated that the use of ayahuasca has shown increases in generosity, spiritual connection, and altruistic feelings; the use of ayahuasca has also been tied to the relief of depression along with mitigating addictive behaviors, as well as relieving stress for those dealing with trauma.

Other landmarks:

  • In December 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved plans for the third phase of a clinical trial testing MDMA in the treatment of PTSD. The study is expected to document the treatment experiences of over 200 people over the course of two to three years.
  • That same month, a research team at Johns Hopkins University released results of a study that tested psilocybin in a group of cancer patients who showed signs of depression and anxiety. High doses, around two to three times a typical recreational dosage, significantly reduced these symptoms, and four out of five continued on with significant overall decreases in depressed mood and anxiety six months later.
  • In studies of the effects of ketamine (also known as “Special K”) on severe depression, patients typically get ketamine either through an IV or a nasal mist about once a week, in a clinic under strict medical supervision. In some participants, ketamine can ease depressive symptoms in a matter of a few hours.

The times, they are a changin’

This new research coincides with a time when social and political attitudes toward drugs are shifting immensely.

The prevalent abuse of prescription opioid painkillers is framed more as a public health issue than as a law enforcement issue, and in the meantime, an increasing number of states are legalizing medical and even recreational marijuana.

Members of Congress asked the Drug Enforcement Administration to hold off on plans to make the herbal supplement kratom illegalscientists claim that kratom may be useful to treat addiction and chronic pain.

Researchers tell us that we are still “newcomers and amateurs” in our understanding of how hallucinogens may help. What all the studies are meant to help researchers understand is how permanent changes to the brain’s functioning may be, and how such changes might help those with depression, anxiety, and addiction.

There are currently hundreds of research projects underway, and to date, there is no known research that the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has rejected or put the brakes on. Furthermore, the DEA has also been having talks with researchers and mental health professionals about streamlining the agency’s approval process.

Curious about better ways to address your own depression and/or anxiety? Both are treatable and manageable. If you or someone close to you need to talk to someone about mental health issues that seem overwhelming, we can help. Consider reaching out to our expert team at Solara Mental Health at 844-600-9747.

8 Things You Can Do to Boost Your Mental Health in 2019

8 things you can do to bolster your mental health in 2019

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Life changes are coming, as with every new year. Now with the holidays behind us, it’s time to take on 2019. Problems getting started? You want this year to be different, but you are not sure what to do? No worries.

Let’s get away from any nomenclature having to do with “resolutions” for the new year. Resolutions are easily forgotten, you get discouraged not too long after the new year, and then what? You’re going to wait until next January to start up with improving yourself? You can get a grip on your depression, anxiety, what have you.

Goals, not New Year’s Resolutions

You don’t need a new year, or a new week, even to start working on yourself. How about starting out by setting some short and long-term goals? It may seem overwhelming, but you don’t have to start big. Maybe you want to get better at stress management, or incorporate a more healthy lifestyle. Personal growth is the key, so remember, to just keep moving forward!

One of the best things you can do to help bolster your mental health is to be prepared for and to anticipate change. Our ability to cope with and deal with changes that life throws at us determines in large part how well-adjusted we are, and how proficient we are at problem solving.

Once you get rolling and in the habit of setting and accomplishing goals, you’ll be unstoppable. Don’t get discouraged, and don’t ever give up on yourself. One step at a time. Here are some suggestions to get you started.

  1. Be ProactiveProactive is a bit of a buzzword, and it is usually associated with something positive. Think of proactive (ahead, in front) versus reactive (afterward). See where you can “work ahead” on things at home, at work/school. If you’re a procrastinator, practicing the art of proactivity can get you out of just about any funk. Set a goal to not just meet the bare minimum, just in the nick of time, but get as far ahead of the curve as you can. Get that assignment done a week early. File that paperwork before the deadline. Set up that appointment when you have an extra 5 minutes on your lunch break. You’ll feel better about life, about yourself, and about your abilities.
  2. Get Organized. Which brings us to getting organized. Entering a space that is organized and tidy has a much more positive effect on your mental health than walking in to a messy space has. One is inspiring, while the latter is depressing and unsettling. Watch some YouTube videos and read some books if you need to, but start working on the habit of staying organized. Ever seen Marie Kondo’s show on Netflix?
  3. Watch What You Eat, Exercise, and Get Your Sleep. Taking care of your body has a huge impact on your mental health, though healthy eating, getting exercise, and getting adequate sleep (healthy living) are often overlooked. Avoid junk food, eat only wholefoods, more protein, fewer carbs, and in smaller portions. Exercise for at least 20-30 minutes, five times weekly. Get 6-8 hours of sleep every night. Get these things down, and you’ll be well on your way to being better able to manage your mental health effectively.
  4. Pick up a New Hobby, Learn a New Skill, Improve One of Your Talents. Maybe you think hobbies are too “old school” for you. You can develop your mind, ease stress, learn to breathe meditatively, etc., when engaging yourself in some pastime that interests you. Do you have a creative side? Take a class in watercolor painting. Do you like music? Have you ever thought of taking up the guitar or piano? Developing a hobby, skill, or talent will help lift your mood, and increase your self-confidence.
  5. Reign in Your Use of Technology.Excessive time on electronic devices, chatting, posting, gaming, etc. has been shown to be tied in with feelings of depression, low self-esteem, suicidal ideation, negative self talk, etc. Have you ever thought of taking a break for a week or two from Facebook, or Instagram, or Twitter? Why not give it a try? You may feel more liberated than you ever thought possible.
  6. Build Up a Reserve.  Research shows that investing time into quiet, introspective activities, like mindful meditation, can be a great help for mental health. Mindfulness practice also helps you build up a reserve of inner strength and groundedness to help you cope with any kind of future challenges you may find yourself facing.
  7. Get in the Habit of Telling Yourself Positive Things.It should come as no surprise that the way you think about yourself can have a huge effect on how you feel. Get in the habit of using words in your self-talk that reinforce feelings of self-worth and personal power. For instance, instead of saying: “I’m such a loser. I won’t get the award because I blew it writing my essay,” say something more like, “I didn’t do as well on my essay as I was hoping, but that doesn’t mean I won’t get the award.”
  8. Start a Gratitude Journal. Expressing gratitude and remembering the things you have to be thankful for have been unmistakably linked with a healthier sense of well-being, happiness, and mental health. Start a journal if you don’t already have one, and write down three things every day that you are grateful for. Think on them every day, and let them soak in. How does it feel?  Pretty good, right?

Now for a great year. Here’s to your mental health and winning 2019!

Gearing up for a great 2019? If you’ve ever struggled with mental illness or low self-esteem, now is the perfect time to address mental health issues. If you or someone close to you need to talk to someone about mental health issues that seem overwhelming, we can help. Consider reaching out to our expert team at Solara Mental Health at 844-600-9747.