We all live busy lives, juggling work, family, and time for ourselves. As a result, 1 in 3 Americans don’t get enough sleep, which can lead to plenty of health complications. While physical health is certainly affected by sleep, sleep and mental health are also closely connected.
Missing a good night’s sleep a few times will not wreck your mental health, however, it can lead to serious problems when that pattern becomes chronic or unavoidable. In this article, we will explain more about the link between sleep problems and mental health disorders.
Can Poor Sleep Cause Mental Health Issues?
In short, yes. Chronic sleep problems can lead to numerous mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, mania, psychosis, and more. Our bodies rely heavily on sleep to:
- Make necessary repairs in our bodies
- Improve our moods
- Increase energy levels
- Balance our hormones and brain chemistry
- Remove toxins from our brains and bodies
- Improving nerve and neuron function and communication
- Increase our attentiveness and cognitive abilities
When this important cycle is disrupted, a host of issues can occur. When left to persist over time, they can even shorten our lifespans.
Also, there are plenty of different sleeping disorders that can cause or exacerbate mental health issues. It doesn’t have to be insomnia. Irregular sleep, lack of quality sleep, or even excessive sleep can cause issues to our health as well.
Beyond insomnia, some of the most common sleep disorders include narcolepsy, sleep apnea, and exhaustion. Let’s talk about sleep health its link to mental health.
How Sleep Affects Mental Health
To understand how sleep affects mental health, you first must understand what “mental health” is. Part of it is physical, even though we typically categorize physical and mental health differently.
For example, depression is categorized as a chemical imbalance in the brain. In this case, certain neurotransmitters are insufficient due to blockages or a lack of production. These neurotransmitters include serotonin and dopamine, among others.
Well, sleep plays an important role in maintaining our bodies’ hormone, endorphin, and neurotransmitter levels. As a result, poor sleep can lead to conditions that cause depression. However, that’s not all.
Sleep and Stress
A lack of sleep can increase the production of cortisol. This is known as the “stress hormone.”
Increasing cortisol levels in the blood have far too many potential consequences to name. Anxiety disorders, depression, and other serious mental health challenges are on the list.
Sleep and Attention
For those with ADD or ADHD, lack of attentiveness can worsen without quality sleep. Long-term sleeping issues can even lead to a misdiagnosis of these conditions.
Unfortunately, this pattern can put people with ADD or ADHD into dangerous situations, especially if they have dangerous jobs or hobbies. Lack of attention can quickly lead to motor vehicle accidents, workplace incidents, and more.
Severe Sleep Deprivation Concerns
When sleep deprivation becomes severe, new potential threats arise. Hallucinations, sleep narcolepsy, and other serious conditions can occur.
If you are receiving less than four hours of sleep each night or if you haven’t slept in 48 hours, this is considered extreme sleep deprivation. Do not operate motor vehicles or heavy machinery under these conditions and seek help right away if you notice these symptoms.
Sleep and Nutritional Challenges
When we don’t sleep, our bodies crave energy. Biologically, sugar is our go-to source for this.
Consequently, many people with sleep disorders will overeat low-quality foods and exercise less. These environmental factors play a major role in mental health, which can lead to worsening effects. If you find your weight fluctuating without sleep, it’s time to find treatment.
Affect of Mental Illness on Sleep
Unfortunately, this can create a negative feedback loop for many people. Sleep issues can lead to a decline in mental health and mental health conditions can lead to sleep issues. This can exacerbate both conditions over time.
Many people with depression or anxiety report sleep difficulties like trouble falling asleep or poor sleep quality. Typically, this is due to racing thoughts, fluctuating energy levels, anxiety attacks, or even coping mechanisms used during the day.
If left untreated, being sleep deprived can worsen imbalances in the brain and body. Over time, this will lead to worsening mental health issues.
Finding the Right Treatment
Due to the unfortunate feedback loop, you can’t simply treat one condition and ignore the other. If you have sleep issues and a coinciding mental illness, treating both is essential for treating either.
Because mental illness and sleep issues are generally a result of issues in the brain, we highly recommend treating your condition(s) that way. Addressing the root cause is always the best long-term solution.
For an FDA-approved treatment covered by most major health insurance providers, we recommend transcranial magnetic stimulation or TMS. TMS therapy helps improve your brain functions by stimulating underactive nerve cells in the brain.
Unlike antidepressants or other addictive chemicals, TMS works to improve the function of your brain rather than alter it chemically. This is a safe and effective way to promote the natural, healthy brain functions we all need to thrive. Essentially, it can help make you “you” again.
If you believe traditional therapy can help with the cognitive side, then pursue it! However, it can take a long time for talk therapy to yield the results you need, and sleep issues along with deteriorating mental health are too dangerous to leave unchecked. Find the treatment that’s right for you today!
Get Back to Sleep
Now that you know the important link between the effects of sleep deprivation and mental health problems, you can see why it’s so important to treat. The longer you wait, the more you remain at risk of worsening conditions. Fortunately, there is treatment available for these coinciding conditions.
If you are struggling with depression or anxiety, ask your doctor if TMS therapy is right for you. TMS therapy is a non-invasive, FDA-approved treatment for depression. Check out Oasis TMS to learn more or contact us to schedule an appointment.