LAGOM- Finding the Balance to be Mentally Healthy

The delicate balance between sleep and mental health.

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Lagom is a Swedish expression that means:

“Just the right amount. Not too little and not too much.”

Waking up in the winter is the worst. Everything is dark and I don’t know about you, but I want to stay curled up in my bed and sleep away. However, life demands progress thus demands you to get out of bed. I have felt like a sloth these last few weeks and thinking: “Ugh, why me?” “Why can’t I just go back to riding unicorns down rainbow lane with Mickey Mouse?”

Sleep is essential to overall health. It is important to get just the right amount and not sleep too little or too much — lagom. The amount of sleep that you get at night plays a huge role in your mental and emotional healing. Too little sleep won’t give your brain enough time to heal as it takes a beating throughout the day. It won’t give your brain the energy that it needs to problem solve, respond correctly to the environment around you, and manage your internal emotions. There is a reason why people say: “don’t poke the sleeping bear!”

Having too much sleep results in feeling sluggish and sometimes creates guilt if it happens too often. Now I am not saying that everyone feels this way, but I did and in the climax of coping with mental illness I felt like all I was good for was sleep. I wasn’t improving or progressing and even though I would sleep 10–12 hours, I would still need a nap at 2:00 or 3:00pm! It was a vicious cycle of Zzz’s and tears. Mental illness is already draining, our natural reaction is to “sleep it off” when in all reality this is not helpful if the sleep isn’t productive.

This is my first winter knowing I have sleep apnea and having a C-pap machine. It is an interesting experience. I still struggle to get out of my nice warm cotton hug, but it’s not the end of the world. (Though in the moment it sure feels like it. Complete with the moan when thinking about the day’s activities). It’s hard to go through your busy schedule if you didn’t get the proper rest. Why else do High school or college students have the permanent red veins in their eyes?

During pure REM sleep, your mind has the chance to throw up all the bad things; to de-clutter as it were. When I had my first sleep study they found that I was averaging about 3 minutes a night of REM sleep. No wonder my brain felt heavy and worthless day in and day out. My brain wasn’t getting the oxygen that it needed to clean itself up.

Imagine having a huge room that needs to be vacuumed in a big bad way. You know that it’s going to take two hours to clean, but you only have a half hour to vacuum it. Is that effective cleaning? You find yourself hoping that you will have time later to finish, but when you come back you find the area you cleaned dirty again and the rest of the room is worse! This is how I feel sleep works in relationship with mental illness. Without proper and healthy sleep, you won’t be able to keep up with your chores.

Society takes sleep for granted and some people aren’t giving it as much respect as it deserves. We all need sleep! We all need rest to stay healthy! We all need a siesta to help prevent ourselves from caving in and giving into the illusion that our lives are terrible as mental illness becomes stronger and stronger.

Sleep demands time and attention and if used correctly is a powerful weapon. If you don’t have sleep you don’t have a life. You feel groggy, irritable, and for me personally weepy; any little thing can set me off. My C-pap machine has become my miracle. It does something that I can’t do for myself which is to breathe while sleeping.

My C-pap machine pumps in the life force necessary for me to live the life that I WANT to live without the limits of mental illnesses. I am able to see clearer, think brilliantly, and change. I am nothing like what I was before, weepy and scared of my own mind.

“And at least I see the light and the fog has now been lifted. And at least I see the light and the world has somehow shifted.”

Who knew that Rapunzel was onto something there? Forget romance, she was singing about sleep!

Sleep is imperative to improving not only overall health, but also the quality of your life. I can’t say it enough times, but if you are seeking help for your depression and anxiety, request a sleep study. It has literally changed my life. If you find that you sleep fine, continue to look for a physical cause. Chances are depression and anxiety are an alarm bell going off like crazy because there is something else wrong. Sleep can cure most anything in my mind (see what I did there?). Make sure that your sleep is up to par and doing what it needs to do for you. Keep it lagom.

Conqueror of Mental Illness/ Mental Health Advocate/ Stigma Fighter through Positivity. Check out my YouTube: Mental Health Naps