Sleep, the wonderful world of sleep! Sleep is amazing for so many different reasons and it plays a crucial role in our health and well-being. One of the very first things a mental health professional will ask about is your sleep. Are you able to sleep through the night? Are you able to wake up on time? How’s your energy throughout the day? Do you sleep at any other time besides the night? Do you get at least 8 hours of sleep a night? Is your sleep regular? Meaning do you fall asleep and wake up generally around the same times. So, why do we care so much about sleep?!
Here’s why, sleep has profound effects on our well-being and irregular or poor sleep habits can lead to the onset or worsening of mental health issues. Poor sleep habits will create stress in the body which leads to increased levels of that lovely chemical Cortisol! If you don’t know, Cortisol production increases during times of stress, and this is not good on our bodies. For someone who has an Eating Disorder, you may not realize that this chemical can lead to increased cravings for foods that are carb-heavy and very sugary. If you already are suffering from binge-eating, poor sleep habits will not help and will perpetuate those eating behaviors. For someone who may be restricting their food intake, this can be one of the causes for the irresistible urge to eat something that may be on your “forbidden list.” That means that it has nothing to do with “lack of will-power,” but rather your bodies drive for survival.
Separate of the impacts sleep can have on our eating habits, poor sleep habits will cause lack of energy and feelings of lethargy. One night of missed sleep or poor sleep won’t kill you and you may want to make up for it the next day by sleeping earlier, waking up later or taking a nap. That is fine. It’s when poor sleep habits are the norm, rather than the exception, that it starts to become a problem that must be addressed. It can spiral feelings of being depressed. It will make recovery more difficult because you’re lacking energy, and recovery from a mental health issue is hard work. When we’re exhausted or over-tired, our brains don’t want to work harder or make decisions, so we will likely be making choices that are easier for us. Again, this is your brain and body’s drive for survival at play. If you’re trying to recover from an Eating Disorder, and are exhausted, it’ll be easier for you to make choices that are in favor of the Eating Disorder, especially early on in your recovery.
Sleep can sometimes be under-rated and take the back-seat to other commitments or obligations that seem either more appealing or more imperative. I could write a textbook on the impacts of poor sleep hygiene, however, this is but a mere blog post. I hope that what you can take from this glimpse into the consequences of poor sleep is that sleep is crucial and it plays a vital role in not only your physical health, but also your mental health and well-being.
*Come back to the blog next week to find out how to create better sleep habits!*
I wish you restful nights on your journey to finding your State of Balance!
Binge And Restrict Cycle
Eating Disorder Specialist
Healthy Self Vs. Eating Disorder