Is there a link between mood, rest, and recovery?
If you’re researching “how does sleep affect mental health?” chances are, you’ve struggled with both. Mental health and sleep are so interconnected that both fatigue during the day and difficulty sleeping at night are much more prevalent in people who struggle with mood . Plus, poor sleep can actually increase the risk of experiencing mood imbalance issues .
When an electroencephalogram (EEG) is used to measure sleep, patients with mood struggles often experience difficulty reaching deep, rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, impaired non-REM sleep, and struggle with sleep continuity .
Melatonin Comes from Serotonin
The pineal gland produces melatonin naturally during hours of darkness to help regulate the “body clock” that controls when you’re awake and when your body is ready for sleep. This clock typically follows a 24-hour cycle called the circadian rhythm. The rhythm affects how every cell, tissue, and organ works .
Although melatonin is known as a neurohormone, which we typically associate with the brain, it has been found in all kingdoms of life, including both vertebrate and invertebrate animals, bacteria, fungi, algae, and plants. And, in all kingdoms, melatonin production requires an intake of the amino acid L-tryptophan, and is synthesized from serotonin .
Supplementing with melatonin alone will not change circulating levels of serotonin, or affect mood, but low levels of serotonin could be a cause for poor melatonin production and consequential difficulty sleeping . This is one probable link between sleep difficulties and mental health challenges .
Naturally, sufficient levels of circulating melatonin should spike at night to help us fall and stay asleep, but as we age, we tend to produce less and less melatonin . This may be the reason new sleep difficulties often arise as we advance into our later years of life.
It is also the reason that, if you choose to use melatonin supplements, you should only take them in the evenings, right before getting ready for bed. The highest levels of circulating melatonin should occur when you are ready to bring on sleep. This mimics the natural cycles of a young and healthy body.
How can I support my mood and feel more rested?
Better Sleep Hygiene
Of course, the first steps to getting better sleep are to make sure you have made sleep a priority, rather than just trying to squeeze it into your busy schedule. Try relaxing with a getting-ready-for-bed routine that soothes you.
Caffeine late in the day, alcohol, heavy dinners, and exercise late at night can all interfere with sleep. Most of us have also heard the importance of resisting blue light screens (smartphones, tablets, tv, and computers) for at least an hour or two before bed to let our minds settle.
Dark, cool, and quiet bedrooms are the most conducive to sleep. You can try an eye mask and a white noise sound machine if it’s impossible to get your room quiet and dark.
Avoid the effects of “social jetlag” by maintaining the same sleep and meal schedule on weekends as you follow on weekdays .
Balanced Nutrition for Sleep
There are also certain nutrients that can be helpful in readying the brain and body for sleep. Here are a few suggestions with the science that supports them:
Balanced Nutrition for Mood
Since you’re here on the MethylPro Blog, you have likely heard of MethylPro, or are taking MethylPro already. L-Methylfolate provided by MethylPro is one of the best nutrients you can supplement to support an improved mood .
Methylfolate is the activated form of vitamin B-9 (folate), which participates in the production of neurotransmitters such as serotonin. As serotonin is also a precursor to melatonin, healthy levels of methylfolate also benefit healthy sleep .
However, we do recommend taking your MethylPro in the morning, rather than before bed. L-Methylfolate, along with other B-vitamins, can promote alertness, more energy, and your ability to focus. These are terrific benefits during the day, but generally not the way we want to feel while sleeping.
If you have trouble with sleep or feeling rested in the mornings, try taking your MethylPro after breakfast. Then, take a sleep support supplement in the evening to help you settle for bed.