Sleep and your mood
Quality sleep is like a mental health superpower.
When you get enough sleep, it's often easier to manage your emotions. This can help you have more patience and help you deal with any stress, including relationship, work or study difficulties. Also, it can help reduce your risk of mental health challenges in the future!
Yet, it’s so common to struggle to sleep. That's because your sleep can be affected by many things – from the food you eat to feeling worried or anxious and even using your phone before bed.
So…how much is enough?
If you’re aged between 12–17 then 8 to 10 hours sleep is ideal, and 18–25 year olds should try to get 7 to 9 hours. Keep in mind that different people need slightly different amounts of sleep.
Download our fact sheet on getting enough sleep
Here’s how those zzz’s can improve your headspace. They can:
give you more energy
improve your memory, attention and concentration
make you less likely to crave snacks that aren't nutritious
help you better deal with stressful situations.
Ask an expert: How do I sleep better?
Michael Gradisar is a sleep expert from the Flinders University. Here are his quick tips for improving your sleep.
At least an hour before bed, turn off video games, YouTube and social media. Try a movie, book or watch TV instead.
Lower the brightness on your phone and computer screens at night. Apple’s Night Shift is one way to do this.
If you find it hard to wind down, try a mindfulness exercise like one from the Smiling Mind app.
Try to sleep the same amount every night. An extra hour, every now and then, is fine – but any more can confuse your body clock. Falling asleep one hour earlier is better than sleeping in one hour later.
If you need to get up during the night try to avoid turning on bright lights and hop back into bed quickly.
Avoid caffeine at least six hours before you go to bed.
If you can, avoid napping during the day.
‘For years, whenever I was feeling low and stressed I would stay up really late. It really affected my mental health. I read about the link between quality sleep and mood so I decided to improve my routine.
I began with small changes – aiming to be in bed before 11pm. I would wind down from about 9pm by logging off social media, flipping my phone over, and read instead. Developing a nightly routine also helped my body recognise when it was time to go to bed. For me it was skincare, but it can be anything that helps move to sleep mode – things like having a bath, meditating or drinking a herbal tea.
Slowly my routine changed and now I really notice the positive benefits of quality sleep – I feel a lot brighter, optimistic, and energetic when I sleep well. And I’m more productive!
“It can take a while to find something that works. So it’s important to be patient and flexible. Try different things and be kind to yourself.’
- May Lyn, headspace Youth National Reference Group Alumni
Getting a good night’s sleep is one of the headspace healthy habits, but it’s not the only one. Things like exercise, eating well, and spending time with people you love also play an important role in good mental health.
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The headspace Clinical Reference Group oversee and approve clinical resources made available on this website.
Last reviewed 21 September 2021