How Sleep Affects Your Mental Health

How Sleep Affects Your Mental Health

The importance of sleep in an individuals’ general wellbeing cannot be ignored. It promotes good physical and mental health. Your body behaves normally if you get enough sleep. However, individuals with sleep deprivation are bound to suffer from various conditions. Unfortunately, insomnia is increasingly becoming a common problem globally.

Sleep deprivation will leave you feeling exhausted and irritable in a short time but has serious long-term health effects. Lack of enough sleep leads to various health conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, and a host of mental issues as well. Without a doubt, the complicated relationship between sleep and mental health has been known to be a cause of several psychiatric conditions.

Some of the psychological effects caused by lack of sleep include;

1. Depression

One of the most notable signs of depression is insomnia and other sleep problems. However, researchers recently implicated lack of sufficient sleep as being among the causes of depression. Several studies found that individuals with insomnia have two times the risk of developing depression than those without sleeping problems. However, it wasn’t conclusive whether helping individuals with sleep issues might help reduce the chances of developing depression.

Nevertheless, it is known that treating insomnia is a sure way of improving the overall psychological health. Possibly, such treatments can be effective in preventing and treating mental conditions as well.

2. Anxiety

The relationship between anxiety and sleep goes in both directions, as it is with other mental conditions. Individuals with anxiety attacks often experience sleep disturbances. Similarly, instances of sleep deprivation are significant to cause sleep debt that can contribute to anxiety. This explains the cycle that perpetuates anxiety and sleeping problems.

Sleep deprivation is also a significant risk factor that leads to the development of anxiety disorders. Individuals who struggle with sleep will likely develop anxiety conditions, especially if left untreated for long periods. Coping with anxiety is quite difficult when the body is tired or suffering from chronic sleep impairments. As a result, lack of enough sleep can exacerbate symptoms of anxiety disorders.

3. Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is often marked by alternating periods of elevated moods and depression. Sleep impairments are also synonymous with people suffering from bipolar disorders. Most of them report irregular sleep-wake cycles, nightmares, and chronic insomnia. Problems with sleep can play a significant role in the development of the condition, treatment outcome, and affect the individual’s quality of life after recovery as well.

Insufficient sleep is also known to cause mania and hypomania. From various studies, significant changes in an individual’s normal sleep/wake cycle are often preceded by the onset of manic episodes in most patients.

4. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

ADHD is a psychiatric condition that affects up to 5.3 percent of children aged between 6 and 17. Like other psychiatric conditions, ADHD can cause sleep disturbances, and sleep disturbance is a predictor and contributor to ADHD symptoms. Children with ADHD often experience several sleep-related issues, including difficulty in falling or staying asleep, difficulty waking, night waking, daytime sleepiness, sleep breathing issues, and more.

Treatment of ADHD begins with a thorough assessment of the child’s sleeping patterns to assess the underlying sleep problems. Sleep-related interventions are also effective in relieving symptoms and the severity of this condition.

5. Stress

If you struggle to enjoy a peaceful night’s sleep, with frequent tossing and turning, you could be acquainted with disruptive effects caused by lack of sleep. Irregular mood changes, including anger and irritability, makes it hard to cope with minor daily stressors. Lack of quality sleep additionally makes it challenging to handle relatively minor stressful situations as well.

With inadequate sleep, your daily hassles turn into significant sources of frustration. You will always find yourself short-tempered, frustrated by basic annoyances, and often frazzled.

6. Impairs Memory

Another significant impact of lacking enough sleep is memory impairments. Multiple studies suggest that nerve connections in the brain that support the memory are strengthened during sleep. During sleep, new things learned and experienced during the day are embedded in the brain for short-term memory. Different phases during sleep play a significant role in consolidating new information into the brain memories.

Therefore, cutting your sleep short interferes with these processes. Practically, you will often forget and misplace things when sleepy. The inability to concentrate and focus caused by insufficient sleep additionally weakens memory. If you can’t concentrate on what you are doing, there are minimal chances it will be consolidated into short term and long term memory.

Coping With Sleep Deprivation

Most preliminary approaches to treating sleep deprivation focus on lifestyle changes to enable individuals to enjoy a better night’s sleep. Avoiding caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine, which interrupts sleep and practicing healthy sleeping habits can help. Some additional coping mechanisms that help achieve healthy sleeping patterns include;

  • Reduce napping – napping during the day can affect the overall quality of sleep at night. Taking 20 to 30 minutes naps during the day can promote alertness without interrupting nighttime sleep.

  • Develop and stick to a daily routine – establish a set of habits that help your body prepare for adequate rest at night. For instance, normalize taking a bath, meditate, read a book, or playing music to calm your body. Repeating these routines regularly will program your body to set the mood for a good night’s sleep.

  • Avoid taking stimulants before bedtime – taking soda, coffee, and other caffeinated products late in the evening will make it difficult to fall asleep.

  • Turn off electronic devices – playing smartphone games and watching television at bedtime makes it difficult to relax and settle into an uninterrupted sleep. Always set limits on when to use these devices before bed.

Bottom Line

The overlap between sleep-related disorders and psychiatric conditions is significant that professionals suspect that they stem from the same biological roots. Poor sleep is a significant symptom and consequence of pre-existing psychological conditions. Besides, sleep problems are thought to be the cause or play a significant role in the onset of various mental disorders, including anxiety, stress, and depression.

As a result, addressing various sleeping problems is essential in protecting an individual’s overall health and wellness. For good night’s sleep, the coping mechanisms outlined above come in handy. Besides, you should make sure your bedroom is well-prepared to provide a comfortable rest. This includes investing in a good mattress, setting the theme, and engaging in activities that promote sleep before bed.

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