World Sleep Day: Know Why Sleep is Necessary for Mental Health?

Topics: Healthy Sleep, sleep test, Insomnia, World Sleep Day

The gift of a good night’s sleep is a precious one. You should value it immensely, as resting peacefully ensures recovery from physical and mental exertion. Sleep helps maintain cognitive skills like memory, attention, learning, and emotional regulation and sharpens your ability to perceive the world accurately.

Know Why Sleep is Necessary for Mental Health

According to sleep experts, not resting for recommended hours affects your mental health. It may cause hallucinations, depression, and anxiety problems in people who spend their nights tossing and turning in beds. So, this World Sleep Day, a date devoted to raising awareness about sleep problems, let’s learn about the results of sleep deprivation on your mental well-being in more detail! Here you go:

Relationship between sleep and mental health

Adults are recommended to get seven to eight hours of sleep every night to ensure the maintenance of their health and well-being. Experts suggest that not resting well or getting poor-quality sleep has a strong link with a range of mental issues. People who fail to sleep through the night are more likely to develop mental health problems than others.

A review of recent studies revealed that insomnia leads to depression and anxiety problems. Thus, the traditional view that sleep problems are caused by disrupted mental well-being is not the whole truth. Instead, there exists a bidirectional relationship between sleep and mental health. And for this reason, people suffering from mental well-being issues are advised not to take sleep problems casually.

Why are sleep and mental health connected?

Experts believe three factors can be held responsible for the existing bi-directional relationship between sleep and mental well-being. These include:

  • Emotional dysregulation
  • Poor Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep
  • Genetics related to the circadian clock.

A study conducted in 2005 suggests that poor sleep influences emotions. People who do not get a restful night of sleep experience negative emotions more intensely when they are faced with work-related stress the following day. Also, even if things are going smooth, the positive emotional reactions are stifled in such people. Hence, poor sleep can negatively impact your mental well-being.

Besides, research has also revealed that brain activity profoundly influences your emotional health when one is asleep. During REM sleep, the brain processes emotional information speedily and evaluates and remembers memories.

So, if you fail to catch on to REM sleep, the consolidation of positive emotional content can be unfavorably affected. This can impact your mood and reactivity and is related to mental well-being and severity.

Another theory suggests that going to bed late, even by 2 hours and still getting up on regular time, influences positive emotions. People who do so feel happy emotions like joy, enthusiasm, and fulfillment at much lesser levels. Besides, circadian clock genes are also associated with psychiatric disorders. So, misalignments between a patient’s internal clock and actual sleep patterns can make him vulnerable to these conditions.

The link between specific mental well-being issues and sleep

For understanding the link between sleep and mental well-being, let’s study how rest is tied with mental health issues and neurodevelopmental disorders:

  • Depression

This condition can be explained as a mood disorder where the patient experiences intense feelings of sadness and hopelessness. People suffering from this problem often report experiencing sleepless nights or excessive daytime sleepiness. Traditionally, sleep issues were seen as a result of depression, but the experts now believe a two-way relation exists between both conditions. However, the exact cause responsible for this connection is yet to be identified.

  • Seasonal affective disorder

A subtype of depression, this disorder primarily affects individuals during the time characterized by reduced daylight hours. So, those living in the north may experience seasonal affective disorder during winter or fall. The condition results from a disturbance in the circadian clock and causes people to sleep too little or too much.

  • Anxiety disorders

Those suffering from this mental well-being problem report experiencing excess fear or worry. It affects their everyday lives and increases the risk for physical health conditions like diabetes and heart problems. Anxiety disorders have a strong relationship with sleep problems as they contribute to a state of hyperarousal that is a risk factor for insomnia. On the other hand, poor-quality sleep can also activate anxiety and cause people to worry when they must be soundly asleep.

Thus, people dealing with mental health issues like anxiety, seasonal affective disorder, and depression should take cognitive behavioral therapy measures or improve sleep hygiene to get good quality rest. Following the steps will decrease your likelihood of experiencing sleep disturbances so that you can get up feeling well-rested every day.

Conclusion

Sleep and mental well-being are closely associated. Whereas it was historically believed that mental health problems caused insomnia and other sleep disorders, recent studies have revealed that the relationship between these conditions is two-way. So, those suffering from anxiety or depression are advised to take proper measures like practicing CBT and improving sleep habits, so they don’t end up developing sleep problems.

 

Disclaimer: The facts and information contained in this article are obtained from reputed medical research organizations and do not necessarily reflect the opinions & beliefs of ResMed. The content here should not be taken as medical advice. The content is for informational purposes only and because each person is so unique, please consult a healthcare professional for any medical queries.

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