The American Lifestyle: Mental Health Declination and Lack of Sleep
Every day, we wake up in the morning groggy, tired, and irritated, grudgingly stomping to the bathroom. Half-asleep and barely functioning, we immediately notice the dark, heavy bags under our eyes, the redness surrounding our irritated pupils, the brown crust formed around the inner and outer eyelids, and the exhaustion screaming at us in our faces. Yet, instead of going back to bed and resting for another hour or two, we ignore the red flags of sleep deprivation and neglect its long-term, adverse effects on our mental health.
The American lifestyle contributes to the physiological and psychological crisis we face as a nation. The “work hard, live fast” mentality has ingrained itself into the capitalistic mindsets of the average American. As a result, the American people are forced to work long, tedious hours and hustle for money out of survival mode to pay for necessities and shelter. Without a job or any source of income, homelessness results, and so does the continuation of depleting mental health states. As a result, the money-making cycle has wrecked repercussions on the overall psychological state of Americans, leading to the mental health epidemic.
Although other factors, like poor diet and lack of exercise, contribute to the crippling state of mental health, according to the Sleep Foundation, “Growing evidence suggests that poor sleep may induce or exacerbate depression” and anxiety. Both stages of sleep, Non-REM and REM, are essential to reach the highest quality of sleep possible. When these stages are interrupted before they complete their cycles, roughly up to 8 hours, the brain cannot fully process its state of rest and recovery. It’s very similar to taking a phone off the charger before reaching its full battery charge. If we cannot be charged to our 100% rest potential, we cannot function 100% throughout the day.
If sleep deprivation can cause or worsen mental health conditions and the average individual gets less than 7 hours of sleep when the requirement is at least 8 hours, then what we can expect is a mental health crisis in the flux of the American lifestyle. According to scientific data by Medical News Today, there is a direct correlation between the quality and quantity of sleep and the state of one’s mental and physical health. Therefore, it is mutually reinforcing to claim one affects the other, as improving the state of one’s sleep can also alleviate symptoms of depression, anxiety, ADHD, and other kinds of mental disorders.
Even though a consistent, high-quality night’s sleep can decrease symptoms associated with mental disorders, the American lifestyle has perpetuated a cycle: lack of sleep leads to poor health and poor health. Therefore, the development of disorders becomes more normalized, and more Americans depend on prescription medication, which does not cure mental health disorders but temporarily masks the symptoms.
According to the Mental Health Foundation, “Up to one-third of the population may suffer from insomnia or sleep problems. These can affect mood, energy and concentration levels, our relationships, and our ability to stay awake and function at work during the day.” The increasing number of disorders affecting a wide variety of populations will inevitably lead to the decreasing quality of the American lifestyle. Without a nightly, high-quality rest to soothe the distress and stress of the hard-working, money-chasing American people, then the mental health crisis will continue to rise.
A nightly rest needs to be emphasized and prioritized to improve mental health states. Even though we are accustomed to a lifestyle of sleep deprivation and psychological carnage, there are ways we can refine the quality of our sleep by adjusting our habits accordingly.
Here are some tips for enhancing the quality of sleep:
Plan out your nightly sleep routine and stick to the sleep schedule as close as possible by sleeping and waking at the same time every day
Stay off your phone, computer, or TV at least an hour before falling asleep
Increase bright light exposure throughout the day and decrease blue light exposure in the evening and night
Exercise throughout the day and stretch before you go to bed
Avoid eating big meals or drinking lots of liquids at least 2 hours before sleep
Don’t consume any stimulating substances 3–4 hours before sleep
Limit the time of your naps to a maximum of 20–30 minutes
Adjust your sleep environment such as eliminating noise, altering room temperature, and changing sleep attire
Drink chamomile and lavender tea 1–2 hours before falling asleep
Focus on inducing a state of relaxation rather than concentrating on sleep
Listen to calming, sleep-inducing music like binaural beats, specifically theta and delta wave frequencies
Follow a guided meditation, breathing exercises, or listen to sleep hypnosis videos on YouTube
Links for Reference: