Did you ever wake up happy and energized after a night full of restless and never-ending tossing and turning in bed? Definitely no. That’s because only a good night’s sleep can lead to a happy and energy-filled day.
Poor sleep causes you to feel grumpy, and to drag through the day with a lack of focus. That is just the start of all the problems poor sleep can create for you both physically and emotionally. Learn why is sleep important for your mental health and how can poor sleep affect your mental wellbeing.
Why is Sleep so Important for Your Health
During sleep, your body is repaired, both physically and mentally. In the deepest stages of sleep, tissues grow, muscles relax and repair, and your energy is restored. Many people don’t know how much sleep an individual needs to stay healthy. Seven to eight hours of sleep a night is essential for restoring skin cells, liver functions, heart health, hormones and much more. Without sleep, your body cannot properly regenerate and prepare you for the next day.
Poor sleep is associated with a higher risk of illnesses such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. Many people aren’t aware that lack of shuteye can also affect your mental health and cause illnesses that go beyond grumpiness that you feel due to sleep deprivation. When you don’t get your required dose of sleep, your brain slowly begins to function differently.
Signs of sleep deprivation are not only seen on your body (such as dark circles under the eyes) but also noticed in your behavior. Spending the entire day yawning at work, falling asleep during a meeting and drinking 10 cups of coffee to get yourself going through the day, indicates your body and mind are seriously struggling, and that you need quality sleep.
Mental Illness Affects Sleep
Unfortunately, data from the National Institute of Mental Health shows that one in five Americans has a mental illness of some kind. Their data surprisingly show that around 80% of people living with psychiatric disorder also complain on chronic sleep problems. Looking at the numbers, we see that sleep and mental health are connected, but the question remains how. Sleep problems are typically a symptom of a mental disease, but they can also be the cause of a mental health issue.
For example, sleep problems are common among individuals suffering from depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and so on. Although lack of sleep may lead to a mental disease, it doesn’t necessarily mean that will happen.
Sleep and mood are also directly related. When you get a good night sleep, you will wake up feeling happy and refreshed. When you get little sleep, you will wake up irritable, and you will have difficulties controlling your emotions and behavior. Quality sleep positively enhances your mood, and can also alleviate symptoms of anxiety or depression. This is most likely because during sleep, happy hormones, such as serotonin, are produced. If you suffer from bipolar disorder, anxiety, and depression, poor sleep can make symptoms of your condition worse.
When it comes to more severe mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, lack of shuteye can also make the symptoms worse. In case of schizophrenia, it can worsen the hallucinations you experience.
Insomnia is rarely idiopathic. In most cases, it is a symptom of other underlying medical conditions, substance abuse or a sign of psychiatric disorders. Insomnia related to another health problem is called secondary insomnia. Being diagnosed with primary insomnia means your sleep problems are not caused by an underlying physical or mental health issue.
Sleep Issues Can Both Cause and Be a Sign of Depression
Dr. Ash Nadkarni, director of Digital Integrated Care and instructor at Harvard Medical School, says sleep disorders can be a sign of a major depressive disorder. On the flip side, some mental health disorders such as insomnia pose a risk for onset and recurring depression.
Since sleep problems can be both a symptom and a cause of mental issues, individuals who suffer from both can fall into a vicious circle – their mental issue will affect their sleep habits, which will further influence their mental health. Eventually, doctors will have a hard time telling which came first and how to address the problem.
PTSD and bipolar disorder are two typical examples where disrupted sleep pattern is a symptom of the disease. On the flip side again, anxiety can be triggered by sleep onset or sleep maintenance insomnia. Lack of shuteye disrupts the level of serotonin and GABA neurotransmitters in the brain which can increase the risk for anxiety and depression. Due to these chemical disruptions, people who had a bad night’s sleep are irritable, have difficulties concentrating and become easily stressed.
How to Get Good Sleep
One of the most important factors of getting a good night sleep is ensuring you have a good sleep environment. Even the smallest things in your bedroom such as too much light or background sounds can disturb your sleep.
To get a good night sleep, it is essential to sleep on a comfortable mattress that provides excellent support. Online Mattress Buying Guides can help you choose the best mattress that meets your budget and needs.
Apart from your bed, your sleep environment (light, noise, and temperature) can also influence the quality and quantity of your sleep. By eliminating factors that may cause stress or distraction, and implementing the ones that put you at ease, you can set yourself for slumber properly.
Since too much light can shift your internal body clock, always use nightlights in hallways and bathrooms. If white noise helps you relax before bed, make sure it’s volume level is low. Increased volume may prevent you from transitioning to the deeper stages of sleep.
Research shows that the ideal temperature for sleeping is reasonably cool. Extreme cold or hot temperatures in sleeping environments disrupt sleep, especially REM sleep.
If you believe your poor sleep is caused by a mental health issue, it is essential to talk to a therapist. Only a professional can help you recognize the true culprits of your restless nights.