There’s nothing better than a good night’s sleep. We all know how refreshing it feels to wake up after an uninterrupted slumber of eight or nine hours. Your mood feels amplified, your mind clear, and you’re ready to take on the day. While we all know about the fantastic benefits of a decent night’s rest, a large portion of the population still fails to prioritize it in their lives.
Whether it’s too much work, a busy family life, or simply binging Netflix into the wee hours of the morning, too many people are pushing sleep to the backburner, and it’s having an adverse effect on their health. Poor sleep habits at best can result in a poor mood and lethargy, but at worst can lead to some serious health disorders. Let’s take a look at how sleep affects mental health and what you can do to make sure you’re getting the rest you need.
The Relationship Between Sleep and Mood
When someone is deprived of a proper night’s sleep, there are obvious symptoms that don’t take long to appear. Sleep and mental health are closely connected and lack of sleep can cause a change in mood. You’ve likely noticed it happening with yourself at some point in your life. You’re tired, irritable, quick to snap at someone over a small detail. You may also feel more susceptible to stress and anxiety, making everything in the day seem like an uphill battle.
A study at the University of Pennsylvania found that when people were limited to 4.5 hours of sleep per night for a week straight, they felt stressed, angry, sad, and exhausted. When the subjects returned to a normal sleep pattern, the symptoms lifted, and they reported an overwhelming increase in mood.
How Sleep Affects Mental Health
Sleep disorders have become endemic in the United States, with an estimated 70 million Americans affected every year. Insomnia is believed to affect between 33% and 50% of adults, while chronic insomnia, which can lead to more serious health disorders, plagues 10% to 15% of US citizens.
A lack of sleep is not only linked to unpleasant physical conditions like heart disease and type 2 diabetes, but it’s responsible for a host of mental impairments as well.
One of the more serious consequences of sleep deprivation is depression. While it’s long been understood that insomnia is one of the symptoms of depression, more recent studies are showing that a lack of sleep can contribute to depression as well. An analysis of 21 studies found that those with sleep disorders were twice as likely to develop depression over time than those without.
Just like depression, anxiety can be both a symptom and a cause of a sleeping disorder. It’s common for those who suffer from anxiety to report disruptive sleep experiences. At the same time, it’s also thought that a lack of sleep is one of the biggest culprits when it comes to the prevalence of anxiety.
And it’s not just adults who are affected. One study found that a lack of sleep was a predictor of generalized anxiety disorder for those between the ages of nine and 16.
Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is another common disorder that is linked in part to not getting sufficient sleep. People who suffer from ADHD can experience an array of complications related to sleep, including sleepwalking, labored breathing, difficulty falling asleep, night terrors, waking up frequently. Studies have shown that 22% to 55% of children with ADHD also have chronic sleep problems.
Bipolar disorder, also referred to as manic-depressive illness or manic depression, is a condition that causes severe shifts in mood, energy, concentration levels (among other things) and is an obstacle for those inflicted with it to carry out regular day-to-day activities.
Sleep disorders are common among those with bipolar disorder, and some studies have shown that a lack of sleep can contribute to the mania and hypomania aspects of the condition.
Life can be challenging enough as it is at times, but failing to get a sufficient amount of sleep only tends to exacerbate your stress levels. A lack of sleep can cause people to become short-tempered, irritable, and downright unpleasant.
The shift in mood can often make a minor problem appear like an uphill battle of Mount Everest proportions. When stressed, your ability to cope with everyday situations becomes impaired, leaving you with a sense of frustration and annoyance.
How To Cope With Sleep Problems
If you feel like your sleeping situation has become unmanageable, it’s important to seek the guidance of a physician to help get you the care you need. However, if you aren’t at that point yet, there are some things you can do on your own to try and help remedy the situation before it gets out of control.
Create a Nightly Routine
As humans, we love routines, and so do our bodies. Preparing yourself mentally and physically for sleep helps you create a habit that your body will begin to recognize. Some of the things to try out when creating your routine can include:
- Go to bed at the same time every night
- Make your bed in the morning, so it’s welcoming at night
- Create a relaxing environment (ambiance, candles, soft music)
- Experiment listening to white noise
- Meditate before bed to clear your mind
Cut Out the Screen Time Before Bed
Try to cut out the glaring light of a screen at least one hour before you go to bed. This includes television, tablets, and the main culprit, smartphones. Not only can these devices produce images that create an emotional response, but the blue light emitted can also contribute to poor sleep.
Take Control of Your Sleep
In closing, we know that sleep affects mental health, and it’s something that we should all be prioritizing in our lives. You can try some of the suggestions listed above to help get your sleep pattern back on track, but if you feel your condition is out of control, seek help from a doctor.
There are other treatments that could be beneficial to you as well. If depression or anxiety are causing you to lose sleep, contact Oasis TMS to see if our treatment options are right for you.