How Sleep Affects Mental Health

By- Sarah Jones

Our well-being is greatly affected by the quality of sleep we get. Sleep affects our capabilities, wellness, and enhances our mental resilience. Good sleep is as important as having a healthy diet and lifestyle. On the other hand, lack of sleep or inadequate sleep leads to insomnia, negative moods, anxiety, and depression.

What Happens When You Sleep?
Every day, you encounter and learn new things. And when you sleep, your mind is able to process these old memories and store them away for use in the future. This creates room for storing the new memories you make the following day. Therefore, we can argue that sleep is beneficial not only in learning and creativity but also in improving concentration when you are awake.

Many factors affect your quality of sleep. Have you ever woken up feeling anxious and unable to calm down? When this happens you need to reflect on what the cause might be and find a possible solution. Below are the reasons why.

What Happens When You Don’t Sleep Well?

  • Less Optimization of Your Memory
    By having inadequate sleep, you will not be able to remember properly what you learned or observed while awake. This is because while you are sleeping, the things you’ve learned are processed and stored in your bank memory so they are readily available for reference.
  • Depression
    Inadequate sleep can lead to insomnia which in turn leads to the development of depression. According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep disorders leads to depression and vice versa. In fact, good sleep is one of the recommended solutions to heal depression.
  • Poor Concentration
    Two nights of inadequate sleep can negatively affect your mental development and intelligence. If you are not sleeping well, then you are at risk of developing a low concentration span, and impaired ability to solve problems. It also affects how long you stay alert (obviously you’ll be drowsy if you don’t sleep well, right?)
  • You Become Moody
    Your brain triggers the release of hormones that affect how clear you see things, your moods, and emotions. When you sleep, your brain has the time to process and balance these hormones. The resulting effect is that you will be happier, more relaxed, and calm when you wake up.
  • Your Intelligence is Compromised
    If you are dealing with complex projects and analysis, then you need to get high quality sleep every night. When you sleep, your brain connects the information you receive during the day into your memory. Without sleep, you might not remember the full details of your project. In addition, the brain processes complex stimuli while you sleep. This stimulus is used to make complex decisions the following day.
  • Development of Bipolar Disorder
    This is a mental disorder associated with periods of elation and depression alternatingly. People sleep very little during manic episodes. This is due to the diminished need for sleep. On the other hand, people with bipolar disorder experience insomnia and hypersomnia during the depressive episodes.
According to the Harvard Medical School, sleep deprivation increases the risk of developing psychiatric disorders. Mental health disorders are worsened by poor sleep and vice versa. So, if you don’t want to develop any of these issues, ensure you sleep well.

What You Can Do?
You can employ different tactics to ensure that you get the minimum of sleep required daily. For example; by developing a regular sleep pattern, avoiding stimulants like coffee, reducing your addiction to gadgets and television, and also making your bed more appealing. However, if you think these natural remedies are not helping, then it’s time to consult your doctor, a sleep expert, or a sleep psychologist to get to the root cause of your sleeplessness.

The Bottom Line
Whatever your reason for sleeping poorly is, just remember that lack of sleep can lead to mental issues and you should never brush off poor sleep as a simple problem. Don’t ever think that by sleeping you are wasting time. No! You need sleep for your mental and physical development. So what are you waiting for? Grab your blanket and sleep tight. you.

Sarah is the editor of Feeling the repercussions of being an irregular sleeper for far too long, she decided to do something about it. She learned why sleep is so important and how to maximize it, and is now helping others who are struggling to find their right sleep routine.
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