How Lack of Sleep Impacts Mental Health

We all know that we can become irritable and don’t function as well if we do not get enough sleep. But for some people dealing with chronic sleep issues, it is much more serious. It may be that they struggle to fall asleep, have troubling dreams or can not stay asleep/fall back to sleep, but they are just not getting enough sleep and the research shows that this can be a significant contributing factor in mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.

And, the evidence is mounting that lack of sleep and these particular mental health issues are intimately connected. Forbes Magazine is sharing the results of a new study, conducted at Binghamton University which explores “a phenomenon called repetitive negative thinking (RNT), which is a hallmark of both mood and anxiety disorders”.

The study finds that those struggling with a lack of sleep had a harder time not focusing on negative thoughts. This “inability to suppress negative stimuli, which again is a key element of mood and anxiety disorders” appears to be tied to a lack of sleep. And, “The authors of that study suggest that lack of sleep in adolescence may predispose teens to both depression and addiction later on”.

So what can we do to change this dynamic? There is mounting evidence that technology ‘hi-jacks’ the brain and can contribute to sleep issues. It is important to monitor and manage your/your child’s/teen’s technology use. And then of course there are the old basics, eat right, get enough exercise, both of which can be challenging in our world today. We also want to be sure that we have strong positive experiences that we can call on when we find ourselves getting stuck in a negative mindset.

Work with horses can be of help. First off, our clients are outdoors (no technology!) They are leading, grooming, tacking up and riding, all of this is gentle exercise (walking, bending, reaching, turning). They are building a relationship with another living, breathing being. They are being encouraged to be present and in the moment. To communicate. To be honest (horses know if we are not being authentic). We often encourage our clients to practice visualizations (how does it feel when you are brushing your horse? How does your horse smell? How does it feel when the sunshine is warm on your back?) that they can call upon when feeling anxious or depressed. These are just a few of the many, many benefits that work with horses offer.

If you or someone you know is struggling with anxiety, depression or any other mental health issues, we are here to help. Work with horses can be a powerful part of a comprehensive treatment plan. Call of email us and we will schedule a visit to the ranch. You’ll get a tour and meet our incredible herd. We will listen and learn more about what you are dealing with and share how we may be able to help.

This entry was posted in Addiction, Anxiety Disorders, Bipolar, Children's issues, Depression, Grief, Mental Health, OCD, PTSD, Schizophrenia, Seniors Program, Teens. Bookmark the permalink.

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