The Impact Sleep Has on Mental Health
By Guest Blogger Sarah Jones
Sarah is the editor of sleepydeep.com. Feeling the repercussions of being an irregular sleeper for far too long, she decided to do something about it. She learned why sleep is so important and how to maximize it, and is now helping others who are struggling to find their right sleep routine.
You’ve most likely heard about the importance of adequate sleep. Sadly, many of us take sleep for granted. Sometimes willingly or unwillingly, we end up burning the midnight candle either trying to beat the deadline for a project, last minute revision for a test, or just watching our favorite shows. Do you ever stop and thought about the impact of sleep on mental health?
Why Sleep is Healthy
A study shows a good number of adults experience problems with sleeping at least two or three nights a week. Inadequate sleep has a tremendous impact not only on our physical health but also on our mental health. It is an everyday ordeal for poor sleepers to wake up with anxiety and terrible moods.
Last year, I went through a terrible phase of depression caused by inadequate sleep. I was so busy in my career that I barely got 5 hours of sleep each day. The worst part is that I wasn’t aware what the cause of my sadness was until one day I came across an article about the effect of sleep on mental health. That was the beginning of my recovery journey back to my happy self.
Even though I was in a bad state, I think a lot of people out there have it worse than I had, without realizing that their lack of sleep might be the cause of so many problems. I, therefore, would like to share some of the more common and obvious symptoms of poor sleep health. If you wake up with one or more of the feelings listed below, it might be time to change things up a bit. It’s better to fix your sleeping routines in the beginning, rather than thinking it’s just a phase (that just doesn’t seem to pass).
What Can Inadequate Sleep Do to Your Mental Health?
It Reduces Concentration and Energy Levels
When you sleep, your brain works to balance the hormones that affect your level of concentration. As an outcome, you will wake up feeling more energetic and ready for your daily activities. According to research, lack of rest stimulates ghrelin, the hunger hormone, leading to the craving of sugary and fatty foods. When your brain doesn’t get the required energy from sleep, it will try to get it from food. It deprives you of potential energy build up in your body.
Decreased Alertness and Memory Recollection
During your deep sleep phase, your brain is busy processing your daily activities and what you learned during the day. It’s making links and memories of your emotions, events, and feelings. Quality sleep will allow improved memory and processing capability. Furthermore, you will find yourself being more alert during the day.
A decrease in the level of serotonin (a hormone that significantly affects our moods, social behavior, digestion and even the desire for sex) together with other chemicals in the body can create a risk of depression. The effect will be an overwhelming feeling of sadness, hopelessness, and decreased interest and pleasure in the things you once enjoyed. Your brain triggers the release of this hormone when you sleep well.
Lack of sleep triggers anxiety. It can also lead to mental illnesses, like PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), phobias, panic disorder, and GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder). People with anxiety faced with sleep problems that worsen their recovery period. It is according to research by Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
This disorder also referred to as the manic-depressive illness. If diagnosed with bipolar disorder, symptoms include excessive or restless sleep. Studies have shown that a combination of bipolar disorder and lack of sleep can lead to suicidal thoughts.
Inadequate sleep will cause you more trouble than it’s worth. Yes, you will finish watching your movie or the project you are working on, but you don’t want to imagine the effect it has on your physical and mental health. Ensure that you sleep at least 8 hours of sleep for your mental well-being. If things get out of hand, seek medical help.
If you are a person struggling to get adequate sleep, I recommend trying some of these remedies; set a regular time for sleep, create time for winding down, and use a sleep diary. A sleep diary can help you recognize the daily activities leading to your sleeplessness. Everyone is different, therefore, what works for one person may be challenging for the next person. But please keep trying and don’t give up. Your sleep is vital to your overall well-being. For more helpful sleep tips, please visit The National Sleep Foundation.
If you or someone you know needs help, visit the Jordan Porco Foundation’s resources page.
The opinions expressed in this blog are personal, and not those of the Jordan Porco Foundation. The information in this blog post is provided for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as mental health advice from the individual author or the Jordan Porco Foundation. You should consult a mental health professional for advice regarding your individual situation.