Every new mum will tell you how important sleep is, especially when it comes to warding off negative thoughts and emotions but finally science has got behind it and confirmed it. A recent study at Binghamton University in the US has confirmed the importance of sleep on our general mood and well-being. The study involved 100 students who were asked to fill out several questionnaires and fill out two computerised tasks. These tasks were intended to assess their levels of negative thinking by gauging how much they worry, stress and obsess. Alongside this, the respondents were asked to respond to questions relevant to their sleeping habits, such as what time they went to bed and whether this was routine or whether it varied on exams and social events.
The study, which was later published in the journal Cognitive Therapy and Research, reported that those with a later bedtime claimed to experience more repetitive negative thoughts than those who slept for longer stretches and had an early, regular bed time. The research also showed that those who kept a regular sleep schedule, i.e. went to bed every night at the same time, also reported less negative thoughts. The study concludes that repetitive negative thinking is linked to sleep disruption and the research team strongly encourages those at risk of developing a mental health problem to put importance on their length of sleep.
The study was born from the suggested links between sleep problems, like insomnia, and both major and minor health problems. In fact, any new parent will tell you that the lack of sleep, experienced in those very early days, can often provoke feelings similar to depression, with one significant difference being that a good nights sleep can cure all. In fact, often new mothers worry that they are experiencing PND only to get a nights sleep and feel fine again.
We all know life is busy and when it feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day, sleep is usually the first thing to go but try to prioritise it like you would anything else. Start by assigning a bedtime hour and sticking to it, and allowing 30 mins to prepare for bed since we are often guilty of aiming to go to bed for 10pm and then only trying to sleep at 11pm after pottering around for an hour. If you find yourself particularly low try and get to bed early and see if that doesn’t go some way to shifting your mood.