In this guest post, Paul Marlow, a leading advocate in mental health, shares the importance of acknowledging World Mental Health Day 2020, on Saturday, October 10th, sleep health, and immunity in the time of COVID-19.
“It’s up to you today to start making healthy choices. Not choices that are just healthy for your body, but healthy for your mind.”
Success rarely comes in one massive wave. It takes time, trickling forward day by day, year by year. Acknowledging the need to address our mental health within society has been no different.
It’s been slower than a trickle. Feeling more like a leaky faucet dripping here and there, sometimes stopping completely. In the last five years, that drip…drip…drip…drip has sped up, and a clear and constant stream is flowing.
Having dealt with mental health struggles in 2018, I watched my father waste away from Parkinson’s disease and then succumb to cancer. I finally understood poor mental health.
So, I am grateful for World Mental Health Day and what it has become in mainstream society and on social media.
Giving acceptance to saying, ” I don’t feel ok.”
However, mental health starts with us as individuals and how we choose to treat our bodies. At the bottom of my mental health structure, I’ve created a concrete base. That sets the day for me and gives me an optimal chance of feeling better day after day.
That base is to get eight hours of uninterrupted sleep each night.
And as fatigue plays a key role in the effectiveness of our immune systems and as we continue to face strain from the impacts of COVID-19, the need to reduce our fatigue and be aware of our mental health is a more prominent concern than ever.
The value I have seen from using my ReadiBand
After my dad passed, my “normal” 24 hours of living was nothing like I’d ever felt before.
- Averaging five hours of sleep
- Never happy (and I mean never)
- The smallest choice in my day could send me on a depressive episode
I was getting only five hours of sleep a night for over two years. I didn’t realize it until I started tracking my sleep with my ReadiBand. I thought I was getting between six to seven hours and only waking up a couple of times a night.
Boy, was I wrong.
After wearing ReadiBand for two weeks, I scrolled through the app to get a full overview of where my sleep was trending, and it was not good. On average, I was sleeping in a five to six-hour window and waking up five to eight times a night, which accumulated to 25-35 minutes of lost sleep time.
The years of thinking I knew what was going on in my sleep was false.
Why do we need to sleep for our mental health?
Our bodies (and hopefully minds) shut off at night when we go to sleep. That’s when we go on standby mode, and all of the wear and tear we put on our bodies throughout the day gets a chance to repair.
If you struggle with mental health issues like anxiety or depression, the lack of repair from a night of poor sleep can compound things. To start your day behind the eight ball as someone who is mentally struggling is admitting defeat before you even start.
How to use ReadiBand to help your mental health
Wearing ReadiBand gives valuable insight to the choices you have made throughout the day. Primarily your actions 60-120 minutes before your bedtime.
Once you have synced your watch in the morning, take a look at your night’s sleep. Take my last night’s sleep, for example.
- I lost 45 minutes of my regular average because I chose to stay up and watch an extra episode of TV before I started my night routine
- I only woke once, which is good, and I’m pretty sure that is because I took the effort to meditate for 20 minutes, once I was in bed
My choice of staying up later than usual had an adverse effect on the time I was able to sleep. But, giving myself time to meditate made the shorter sleep still quite useful.
Here are other choices that can affect your sleep:
- Eating clean foods that are easily digestible for dinner can have a positive effect
- Staring at your phone, TV, computer, or tablet until you turn your lights off will have a negative effect
- Drinking any amount of alcohol will have a negative effect
- Reading or journaling before bed can have a positive effect
- Talking to a therapist that day can have a positive effect
- Drinking water throughout the day, keeping your body from dehydration will have a positive effect on your sleep
The quote ” I’ll sleep when I’m dead” is, luckily, dead itself.
Society, companies, athletes, and the general public realize the importance of getting a good night’s sleep. However, we must also realize the time it takes to change our sleeping habits to see real results.
When I first started tracking my sleep, my sleep average was five-and-a-half hours with five to six wakeups. It took me eight months to see that average go up to six hours. Yet today, I have been wearing my ReadiBand for almost two years now, and my sleep average is eight hours and nine minutes.
Take time, be patient, and learn from your mistakes.
About the Author
Paul Marlow is a leading advocate in Mental Health. Along with writing blogs to help inform and inspire those in need, he regularly talks at conferences. His company Never Alone was started during his mental health struggles after his father passed. Never Alone is a cumulation of daily motivation, free help for those in need and the Never Alone clothing line. Never Alone’s goal is to break the stigma around mental health one day at a time.
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