Most people are personally aware of how sleep impacts their mental health. In spite of this, there is a reason why someone in a nasty mood is said to have “woken up on the wrong side of the bed.”
It turns out that there’s quite a deal of truth in this idiom. Sleep is directly linked to mental and emotional well-being and has been linked to disorders including bipolar disorder, anxiety, and depression among others.
Although more research is needed to fully understand the relationships between sleep and mental health, what is known so far suggests a mutually beneficial relationship. Poor sleep is often a symptom of mental health issues. In addition, a lack of quality sleep, particularly insomnia, can contribute to the onset and aggravation of mental health issues.
Healthy sleep and good mental health are inextricably linked. Our brains form new connections while we sleep, allowing us to process the experiences from the day before. The majority of the body’s mending activities are also carried out while we sleep. The time you spend sleeping each night gives your digestive system and other important systems a chance to rest, flush out waste, and repair themselves. As crucial as regular, quality sleep is to your emotional and physical well-being, sleep deprivation carries with it just as many risks.
How is mental health and sleep connected?
Throughout the many sleep phases that make up the sleep cycle, the brain’s activity rises and falls. Although general brain activity slows down during NREM (non-rapid eye movement) sleep, there are brief spurts of energy. Since brain activity extends quickly during REM sleep, this stage is linked to dreaming that is more vivid.
Each stage contributes to brain health by facilitating the ramping up or down of activity in various areas of the brain and improving thinking, learning, and memory. Additionally, studies have shown that the brain’s activity while we sleep has a significant impact on our emotional and mental well-being.
The brain’s ability to interpret emotional information is facilitated by getting enough sleep, particularly REM sleep. The brain works to analyse and retain thoughts and memories when we sleep, and it appears that lack of sleep is particularly detrimental to the consolidation of emotionally positive information. This is linked to mental health illnesses and their severity, including the likelihood of suicidal thoughts or actions, and can affect mood and emotional reactivity.
As a result, the conventional belief that sleep issues were a sign of mental health issues is being challenged more and more. Instead, it is now evident that there is a symbiotic relationship between sleep and mental health, wherein sleep issues may both contribute to and be a symptom of mental health issues.
People with psychiatric conditions are more likely to experience OSA5, which can harm their physical health and increase their risk of experiencing severe mental distress6.
The condition known as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is another sleep disorder that has been associated with mental health. OSA is a disorder that causes the body to breathe less frequently while you sleep and lower oxygen levels, which results in fragmented and disturbed sleep.There is a complex relationship between sleep and mental health that can be influenced by a variety of elements in each individual’s case, but more research is required to fully understand these relationships.
Mental problems Which affects your sleep
Depression is a type of mood disorder characterised by feelings of despair or hopelessness, and it affects an estimated 300 million individuals worldwide. Insomnia symptoms are present in about 75% of sad people, and many depressed patients also experience excessive daytime sleepiness and hypersomnia, or oversleeping.
Historically, insomnia was thought to be a side effect of depression, but mounting research indicates that insomnia itself may cause or aggravate sadness. It is thought that sleep issues and depression symptoms have a bidirectional link that reinforces each other, which is why it might be difficult to establish a definite cause and effect.
Depressive Seasonal Disorder
A kind of depression known as seasonal affective disorder typically strikes people when there are fewer daylight hours in the year. People in northern regions, for instance, may suffer from seasonal affective disorder in the fall and winter.
The interruption of a person’s internal biological clock, or circadian rhythm, which aids in the regulation of numerous bodily functions, including sleep, is strongly related to this illness. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that those who have seasonal affective disorder frequently have irregular sleep patterns or over- or under-sleep.
Anxiety disorders are thought to impact 20% of adults and 25% of teenagers in America each year. Excessive dread or worry caused by these diseases increases the risk of heart disease and diabetes as well as disrupts daily life.
Sleep issues are closely related to anxiety disorders. The racing mind that results from worry and dread is known as hyperarousal, which is thought to be a major factor in insomnia. Not only does anxiety cause sleep issues. According to research, anxiety can be triggered by inadequate sleep in persons who are at high risk for it. Chronic insomnia may also be a risk factor for developing anxiety disorders. Making oneself anxious before night makes it more difficult to fall asleep.
Not only does anxiety cause sleep issues. According to research, anxiety can be triggered by inadequate sleep in persons who are at high risk for it18. Chronic insomnia may also be a risk factor for developing anxiety disorders19.
Extreme mood episodes associated with bipolar disorder include both high (mania) and lows (depression). Depending on the type of episode, a person’s emotions and symptoms might vary greatly; nonetheless, both manic and depressive episodes can seriously affect daily functioning.
Depending on their emotional state, patients with bipolar disorder experience significant changes in their sleep patterns. They typically feel less sleepy when they are manic, but they may sleep more than usual when they are depressed.
According to research, many persons with bipolar disorder notice changes in their sleep habits before an episode starts. A bidirectional association between bipolar disorder and sleep suggests that treating sleeplessness can lessen the effects of the condition. There is also evidence that sleep issues trigger or exacerbate manic and depressive episodes.
Ways to improve
Therapy using cognitive behaviour
Talk therapy is a category of counselling that is described by cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). It functions by looking at cognitive patterns and trying to reframe negative ideas.
Improving Sleeping habits
- establishing a regular bedtime and sleep pattern
- Finding ways to relax as part of a regular nighttime ritual, such as through the use of relaxation techniques
- Avoiding coffee, alcohol, and tobacco in the evening
- Before going to bed, dim the lights and put away any electronic gadgets for at least an hour.
- Getting regular exercise and midday exposure to natural light
- Making the most of your mattress, pillows, and bedding for comfort and support
- minimising excessive light and noise that could interfere with sleep
Poor sleep has been shown to have several harmful impacts, including serious harm to one’s emotional and mental health. However, sleep issues are also believed to be a cause or a contributing factor in the formation of other mental diseases like depression and anxiety. Poor sleep may frequently be a sign or consequence of an existing psychological ailment.
Because of this, it’s critical to address sleep issues as soon as possible in order to safeguard your general health and wellbeing. Making lifestyle adjustments that encourage restful sleep might be helpful, but if your sleep issues persist, speak with your doctor. Your sleep troubles could be caused by a medical ailment or an underlying sleep disorder.
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