Sleep in Recovery from Mental Illness: When Is It Healthy?

September 17, 2019 Megan Griffith

Healthy sleep in recovery from mental illness is absolutely vital, but do you know when you're using sleep as a coping mechanism and when you're using it as avoidance? It can be a very fine line, but in this post and video, I talk about some of the good signs and red flags when it comes to healthy sleep in recovery from mental illness.

Good Signs for Healthy Sleep in Recovery from Mental Illness

Obviously it would be ideal for most of us if we could get eight hours of sleep in recovery from mental illness every night, wake up feeling refreshed, get through the day with plenty of energy, and go to bed just tired enough to sleep soundly again. But in my experience, that is a very rare occurrence for almost anyone, let alone those of us with mental illness. So if you can't get eight hours of sleep, or if you simply have to take naps throughout the day, how can you tell if you're doing so in a healthy way?

First, I can always tell that I'm getting healthy sleep if I actually feel well-rested after sleeping. I may not feel great, but I will notice that I gained some energy while sleeping, and increasing energy is a great, healthy reason to sleep well in recovery from mental illness. Second, if I have insomnia and simply cannot stay asleep at night, it's perfectly healthy to sleep when I can, even if that's during the day. Yes, it's better to sleep at night, but do you know what's even better than that? Sleeping at all. If I've been up all night and I notice my body getting tired around 2:00 a.m., I am not going to deny myself a nap. It's important to give my body the sleep it needs to stay healthy, no matter what time that sleep in recovery happens to occur.

Red Flags for Unhealthy Sleep Choices in Recovery from Mental Illness

In my experience, sleep is usually a great thing for my mental health, but sometimes I can tell I'm making unhealthy sleep choices. The biggest red flag for me is when I'm not actually very tired, but I force myself to go to sleep anyway, often in the middle of the day. In this case, I'm not using sleep to build up energy to recover from something that was physically or emotionally draining, I'm simply sleeping because I don't know what else to do with myself. I just don't want to be conscious and deal with all the frustrations it entails, so I go to sleep instead. This is avoidance, and it isn't good for me.

Do you use sleep in recovery from mental illness using unhealthy choices to cope? How can you tell you're getting healthy sleep even when it looks different from the typical eight hours at night? Let us know in the comments, and check out the video for more information.

APA Reference
Griffith, M. (2019, September 17). Sleep in Recovery from Mental Illness: When Is It Healthy?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 15 from

Author: Megan Griffith

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