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How sleep impacts our physical and mental health

March 13, 2023 |3 minute read time

Sleep impacts physical and mental health

Monica Le Baron struggled for years with anxiety and insomnia. After finding healing as a certified yoga therapist and sleep coach, she thought her days of insomnia were over. Then Monica’s father passed away. Devastated by loss, she would not sleep for four days. “It was very scary,” she says. She finally found help through a medical professional.

While you sleep, your brain works like a personal health assistant — storing memories, processing your day, strengthening your immune system and even cleaning away some of the waste products associated with cognitive decline.

“It’s hard to imagine anything that’s more important to overall health than sleep,” says Dr. David Fairchild, Chief Medical Officer, Retail Health at CVS Health. “For good physical and mental health, people need about seven to nine hours of sleep in a 24-hour period. The bottom line is that sleep is restorative.”

Lack of sleep raises the risk of chronic health issues

Sleep impacts a wide range of mental and physical health conditions, including dementia, obesity, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. “Some of our body processes can only occur during sleep,” says Mollie Stanley, a MinuteClinic® nurse practitioner. “It is a time that the body uses to rebuild."

Sleep helps prevent obesity, for example, by decreasing stress and fatigue that can lead to poor food choices. Proper sleep can also reduce stress hormones that may lead to coronary heart disease, and it can even help our minds lock in memories.

Yet, the sleep satisfaction of the average American adult barely earns a “D” grade, according to the National Sleep Foundation’s new 2023 “Sleep in America” poll.

Unsurprisingly, the poll shows that sleep health and mental health are often bidirectional: Individuals dissatisfied with their sleep were over five times more likely to receive a depression diagnosis than those who were satisfied with their sleep. Conversely, 95% of individuals who were satisfied with their sleep did not meet probable criteria for a depression diagnosis.

National Sleep Foundation’s tips for better sleep:


For morning:

  • Spend time in bright or natural light
  • Exercise regularly, at least 30 minutes a day
  • Eat meals at consistent times


For evening:

  • Avoid heavy meals, nicotine, caffeine and alcohol before bed
  • Use a consistent wind-down routine
  • Stop using devices an hour before bed and sleep in a quiet, cool dark room


If you continue to have difficulty sleeping, consider talking to a health care provider. MinuteClinic providers offer wellness screenings and can assess individuals for obstructive sleep apnea or other sleep disorders. They can also provide referrals for home sleep studies, connect patients with community resources and refer patients to specialists if needed.