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How Body Image and Mental Health Affect Sleep Patterns

Your body image can influence your mental health, and in turn, your sleep quality. A positive body image and good mental health can help you sleep better at night — and sleeping better at night could help you feel better about yourself.

Body image is defined as how you feel about your body, and having a positive body image can correlate to good mental health.

A negative body image can put you at a higher risk of developing an eating disorders and suffering from other mental illnesses such as depression. And in turn, poor sleep can negatively affect your mental health.

We are always on the hunt for therapeutic tools that can help us improve our mind, body and soul. Here’s what you need to know about how your body image impacts not only your mental health but also your sleep.

Body Image and Sleep
Photo Courtesy of Big Fig Mattress

How Mental Health Impacts Sleep

People with poor mental health, whether it’s from a negative body image or other sources, are more likely to have bad sleep habits. Sleep problems are common among people who suffer from anxiety, depression, or other mental health conditions.

Sleeping with a mental illness is often not as restorative. You may wake up feeling tired, wake up during the night, struggle to get to sleep, or wake up too early.

You may find yourself staying up too late with worry, and your sleep cycles can be affected. Specifically, you may spend more time in lighter and less restorative stages of sleep, with less time in deep and REM sleep stages that you really need.

Photo Courtesy of Big Fig Mattress

What Sleep Does to Mental Health

At the same time, poor sleep can take a toll on your mental health and make it difficult for you to maintain healthy habits that could help you improve your body image. When you’re tired, it’s difficult to feel good, physically or mentally.

You may struggle with fatigue and have a hard time dealing with the frustrations and stresses of daily life. And low energy means you might have a hard time finding motivation to move your body in a way that feels good for you or to practice intuitive eating.

How You Can Support Both Mental and Sleep Health

There is no such thing as a perfect body. There’s no one size that you have to be in order to have a positive body image. 

Focusing on self care, like getting a good night’s sleep, can help you support a positive body image and feel good about yourself.

It’s easy to put other priorities above sleep, but life is just harder when you haven’t rested well. Give yourself the time you need to sleep well and make sure your sleep environment is one that brings you peace.

You should have a quiet, dark, and cool space to sleep with a mattress that meets your needs. (May we suggest Big Fig Mattress!?)

A consistent bedtime routine and sleep schedule can help you get to bed on time, too. Avoid sleep pitfalls. Sometimes, you sabotage your own sleep. Drinking coffee late in the day, even a nightcap of alcohol can keep you up at night or lower your sleep quality.

Late night screen time is another problem you might not realize. Watching TV at night negatively influences your circadian rhythm and can leave you too alert. It’s best to shut down devices at least one hour before bed.

Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash

How to Manage Stress and Anxiety.

Worry and stress can keep you up at night. Using stress relief including relaxation techniques and therapy can help you sleep better. A warm bath before bed, yoga, aromatherapy, stretching, and meditation are all ways to relieve stress and anxiety before you go to sleep.

And if anxious thoughts are keeping you up at night, consider keeping a journal next to your bed so you can write them down, put them out of your mind for the night, and deal with them in the daytime.

Practice Self Care.

It’s important to learn to practice self care. Prioritize yourself and do what makes you feel good, whether that’s pampering or engaging in activities you enjoy. Finding what brings you joy can help improve your mental health by offering stress relief and helping you feel more confident about what your body can do.

Want to feel better about yourself — and feel better every day? Sleep might be the answer. But mental health can take a toll on your ability to sleep well. Focus on how you can improve your mental health, along with your sleep health, to improve your overall wellness.

What tips do you have for improving your sleep habits? 

This guest post was written by Sara Westgreen. Sara is a researcher for the sleep science hub Tuck.com. She sleeps on a king size bed in Texas, where she defends her territory against cats all night. A mother of three, she enjoys beer, board games, and getting as much sleep as she can get her hands on.

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