The relationship between sleep and mental health

The relationship between sleep and mental health is very complex and has been studied by multiple researchers across the years. When you don’t sleep enough, not only does it affect your physical health, it also affects your mental well-being, your energy levels, and your emotions. Sleep deprivation also makes you feel groggy, slow and reduces your overall productivity.

If you’re feeling low, you may not immediately think that lack of sleep is the culprit. However, even small levels of sleep deprivation over time can chip away at your happiness. You might see that you’re less enthusiastic, more irritable, or even have some of the symptoms of clinical depression, such as feeling persistently sad or empty. All these alterations to your mood can affect not only your individual mental health but also your relationships and family dynamics.

Although scientists are still trying to figure out the exact mechanics of sleep, it has been widely accepted that sleep deprivation or regular disturbances in sleep wreck havoc in the brain, impairing thinking and emotional regulation. In this way, insomnia and lack of sleep may amplify the symptoms of mental disorders and vice versa.

Research has shown that:

  • Sleep disorders are more likely to affect patients with psychiatric disorders than people in the general population.
  • Problems in falling asleep may increase the risk of developing particular mental illnesses, as well as result from such disorders.
  • Treating sleep disorders may help alleviate symptoms of the mental health problem.

Steps you can take to improve your sleep that can have a positive effect on your mental health

  • We know that caffeine contributes to sleeplessness, but so does alcohol and nicotine. Alcohol initially depresses the nervous system, but the effect wears off in a few hours and people wake up. Nicotine is a stimulant, which speeds heart rate and thinking. Giving up these substances is best, but avoiding them before bedtime is another option.
  • Regular aerobic activity helps people fall asleep faster, spend more time in deep sleep, and awaken less often during the night.
  • Many experts believe that people learn insomnia, and can learn how to sleep better. Good “sleep hygiene” is the term often used to include tips like maintaining a regular sleep-and-wake schedule, and keeping the bedroom dark and free of distractions like the computer or television. Some experts also recommend sleep retraining: staying awake longer in order to ensure sleep is more restful.
  • Take steps to improve your quality of sleep. Keeping the room cool, using a supportive pillow, and using a mattress of better quality are all changes that you can make in order to get better sleep, and ultimately improve your mental health. Sleepkraft makes mattresses of various consistencies and materials, and you’re bound to find something that suits your personal taste and sleeping style.

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