We know very well that sleeping at least 8 hours a night is very important for our brains and for our overall health. The same goes for good nutrition and, of course, for exercise as well. However, what is the most important element is it linked to better mental health?
Researchers from the University of Otago in New Zealand conducted a study in young adults and think they have discovered the answer: the sleep, not particularly in terms of quantity, but especially for the quality of sleep. “Knowing the importance of each of these lifestyle behaviors, individually or in combination with each other is important“, according to experts.
In this study, the researchers surveyed more than 1,100 adults between the ages of 18 and 25 to compare side-by-side the “big three” health factors that impact mental health. Overall, people who have slept nearly 10 hours a night have reported fewer depressive symptoms among all. Those who did not get enough sleep (less than 8 hours) or those who did it for too long (more than 12 hours) reported more symptoms of depression.
While physical activity was the second clear indicator of well-being, it was the quality of sleep to overcome all as the strongest symptom of good mental health. “This is surprising because sleep recommendations focus primarily on quantity rather than quality“said Wickham, said lead author of the study, Shay-Ruby Wickham, of Otago Medical School.
The researchers suggest in their paper that young adults should prioritize good quality sleep, but they also stress the importance of eating well and exercising. “Our findings suggest that future lifestyle interventions targeting sleep quality may be more helpful in improving mental health and well-being. However, physical activity and diet should not be ignored“finally write the experts.