SLEEP DEPRIVATION AND ITS EFFECTS ON MENTAL HEALTH | Guest Post by Brett Armstron
Is sleep deprivation more than not getting enough sleep? As someone who’s experienced chronic lack of sleep, I can share that over time it can affect mental health. The good news is you can take steps like choosing the best mattress for a good night’s sleep. In fact, insomnia is a common health condition that affects about one-third of the world’s population, according to VeryWellMind. However, when the symptoms become severe and affect mental health, it’s time to take action.
Sleep Deprivation: A Serious Problem
It’s one thing if you don’t get a full night’s sleep once in a blue moon. However, if it becomes the norm, then the effects can be quite severe and even affect one’s mental health.
Effects on Physical/Mental Health
It’s important not to underestimate the effects of lack of sleep on your physical and mental well-being. Sleep deprivation can cause various short-term effects like feeling exhausted or irritable. However, long-term lack of sleep can become linked to serious health conditions like depression, type-2 diabetes, and heart disease. Mental health issues can trigger sleep deprivation and also become worse due to not getting enough shut-eye. Some possible mental issues affected include anxiety, depression, in bipolar disorder.
Sleep and Mental Health Conditions
It’s also well-established that various psychiatric conditions can affect people’s quality of sleep. However, more research shows that sleep can even have a causal relationship with various mental health issues. So it’s more important than ever to get a full night’s sleep.
Sleep and mental health (video) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oxe4hlx4Jzy
Sleep Deprivation and Everyday Life
Beyond Feeling Tired
Everyone has been deprived of sleep at some point in their lives, which can cause them to feel low-energy and groggy during the next day. However, the effects aren’t just physical. Lack of sleep can also cause psychological effects. This includes stress, anger, and irritability. In fact, it can even become tough to deal with basic day-to-day situations when you’re functioning without a full 7 or 8 hours of sleep.
You can experience stress in different ways when you can’t sleep well at night. When your body/mind isn’t fully charged, this can make it tough to deal with basic situations. Meanwhile, the fact you can’t sleep well at night can itself become stressful. You might worry about whether or not you can sleep well tonight, tomorrow, etc.
Just like stress, studies show that lack of sleep can be caused by depression and can also trigger it. This is also a more serious mental health issue than just feeling burned out.
Mental Health Issues affected by Sleep Deprivation
Studies show that over 5% of children under 18-years-old are affected by attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to VeryWellMind. Up to 55% of ADHD patients also suffer from sleep disturbances.
Studies show that sleep deprivation can trigger anxiety and vice versa. For example, people with anxiety disorders are somewhat likely to experience sleep deprivation, while lack of sleep can actually cause anxiousness.
This is a serious mental health issue that can affect a person’s sleep quality. It can cause frequent shifts in energy, mood, focus, etc. that can prevent people from going through their daily routine. Bipolar disorder can also affect sleep cycles. That’s because the big shifts in mental health factors can even affect your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Surprising Effects of Sleep Deprivation
Besides feeling tired, stressed, or irritable, there are also other effects of sleep deprivation that might be quite surprising:
The immune system is the body’s first line of defense to fight off bacteria, viruses, illnesses, etc. So it’s important to make sure your body is getting a full night’s sleep, so the immune system gets stronger. When your immune system is stronger, it’s better equipped to fight off infections, which can lead to illness and disease. That can make a bad situation worse since it goes beyond feeling a little sleepy.
If you’re not getting enough sleep, it can actually affect your appetite and body weight. When you’re sleep-deprived, the body releases more lepton hormones (hunger hormone). When you’re tired, you crave unhealthy stuff like sugar and carbs. This can actually make your sleep deprivation worse.
Sleep deprivation and food cravings (video): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q_rbkbn1Z9E
Tips for Mental Health Patients to Sleep Better
Clear Your Mind at Bedtime
If you’re suffering from stress, anxiety, depression, etc. then thinking about your problems before bedtime will make it super-tough to fall asleep. Try to clear your mind and just focus on sleeping. What if issues/problems pop into your head at night? Just jot them down on paper then go back to sleep. You can deal with the issue in the morning after you’re well-rested.
Follow a Bedtime Routine
This is practical not only for kids but also for adults. It helps your body/mind follow a regular wake/sleep cycle. Make sure to follow the sleep routine as close as possible every night. This allows your body to “shut down” at night so it can rest and recover for the next day. This should also include going to bed/waking up at around the same time. It’s another way the body can prepare for sleep.
Improve Sleep Environment
One of the main issues that might be keeping you up is if your bedroom isn’t conducive to sleep. That includes issues like:
These are some basic steps that can help, along with finding the best mattress, naturally. The focus should be on making your bedroom a “sleep sanctuary” that helps you fall asleep faster.
Start exercising regularly
This might seem like an odd way to get better sleep. However, it actually works because it can help to release energy and tire muscles. The old saying, “If you don’t use it, you lose it,” certainly holds true. You don’t have to run a marathon or complete a triathlon. It’s recommended you do an hour of moderate strength training or cardio exercise most days of the week.
Lack of sleep doesn’t just affect your physical health but also your mental health. The situation can be worse if you suffer from conditions like anxiety disorder, depression, or ADHD. Getting a good night’s sleep can help prevent mental health triggers that can make getting shut-eye even tougher. Make sure to take steps that improve your sleep environment and maintain a sleep schedule. This includes different options, like learning how to choose the right mattress firmness. More quality sleep means better mental health!