The Connection Between Sleep and Mental Health

When you don’t sleep enough, the impact is far beyond feeling cranky and wanting a second cup of coffee. Statistics show that a third of all adults don’t get the recommended eight hours of sleep each night.[1] This is not only linked to many chronic health problems such as diabetes and heart disease but can also impact your mental health. As we take a look at the connection between sleep and mental health, you’ll come to understand why it’s so crucial to get enough sleep every night. We’re also going to share some tips to help you improve your sleep, as well as how Healing Foundations Center can help if you are experiencing a mental health condition.

Causes of Sleep Deprivation

Besides just not going to bed early enough, people can be sleep deprived for many different reasons. While some people are sleep deprived because of the choices they make, other people don’t get enough sleep due to issues that are out of their control.[2] These include:

  • Sleep apnea
  • Taking certain medication
  • Trauma
  • Stress or constant worrying
  • Sleep disorders

Sleep deprivation can be due to one of these factors or a combination of several. Understanding what is causing your lack of sleep can better help you find ways to sleep more and avoid unhealthy consequences.

Symptoms of Sleep Deprivation

Simply being tired is just one sign of sleep deprivation. There are other things to be on the lookout for[3]:

  • Irritability
  • Trouble thinking or focusing
  • Slowed reaction times
  • Headaches

When sleep deprivation is prolonged, it can lead to more dangerous consequences such as trouble speaking, hand tremors, uncontrollable eye movement, impaired judgment, and drooping eyelids. This is why it’s important to recognize when you are sleep deprived and take steps to increase the amount of sleep you’re getting each night. Waiting for it to simply pass can lead to unhealthy results.

Understanding How Sleep and Mental Health Are Connected

Research has shown that healthy sleep is linked to better mood, improved productivity, and generally a better outlook on life. So, when you don’t get enough sleep, you can expect to have the opposite outcome. This is because the part of the brain that handles emotional responses (amygdala) does its processing when we sleep. The prefrontal cortex helps to control impulses and regulate emotions. When we don’t sleep enough, the amygdala gets overactive, resulting in disrupted communication with the prefrontal cortex. This leads to mood swings, increased emotional reactions, and impulsive decisions.

When we don’t sleep enough, we also have a tougher time dealing with the daily stresses of life. We can get frustrated by what may be the smallest thing. If you’re consistently not getting enough sleep, think about how stressed your feel. Chances are your stress level is high, partly due to your lack of sleep.

Lack of Sleep and Depression

There is also a correlation between lack of sleep and anxiety and depression. Research shows that 75% of depressed people show symptoms of insomnia.[4] Many people with depression also suffer from excessive daytime sleepiness.

Anxiety Disorders and Sleep Deprivation

There is a strong link between anxiety disorders and sleep deprivation. When people are worried and fearful, it can make their minds race as they think about things that are out of their control. This contributes to insomnia. Sleep problems alone can also become an added source of worry, leading to anxiety at bedtime, making it harder to fall asleep.

Poor sleep can also activate anxiety in people who are at high risk for it. Also, chronic insomnia may be a predisposing trait among people who go on to develop anxiety disorders.[5]

Bipolar Disorder and Sleep Deprivation

Bipolar disorder involves both highs and lows of extreme moods. When someone is in a low, they tend to want to sleep more, while during a manic period, they have less of a need to sleep. Research shows that sleeping problems can worsen these episodes of bipolar disorder.[6]

As you can see, not getting enough sleep can lead to mental health issues as well as make conditions worse for those who are already suffering from different types of mental health disorders.

How to Improve Your Sleep

If you are sleep deprived, there are things you can try to do to improve your quality and amount of sleep.

  • Avoid electronics before bed. Studies have shown that exposure to blue light before bed can have a negative impact on sleep.
  • Keep a consistent sleep schedule by waking up and going to bed around the same time every day.
  • Set a bedtime that will allow you to get at least 7 hours of sleep a day and stick to it!
  • Establish a relaxing bedtime routine that may include taking a bath or reading a book.
  • Keep your bedroom quiet, dark, and cool.
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine late in the day.
  • Limit daytime naps.

It’s important to note that while these tips may help to improve sleep, they may not necessarily treat the mental health issues that can come with sleep deprivation. Mental health issues, whether they are brought upon by sleep deprivation or another cause, should always be treated by a professional in the field. This offers each patient the best chance at success.

Mental Health Treatment at Healing Foundations

At Healing Foundations, we offer a variety of treatments for mental health conditions. Whether you are suffering from an anxiety disorder, depression, or another type of mental health issue, our team will devise a customized treatment plan.

Treatments can include:

It’s important to recognize that each patient will benefit from a different type of treatment plan and therapy. By getting to know each patient and their needs, our team will develop the treatment plan that will result in the greatest success.

To learn more about our treatment center in Scottsdale, AZ, call us today or reach out to us online. Our professional staff is always here to help you when you need it the most.