Mental Health and Sleep
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Sleep is a universal need of all higher life forms, including humans, and insufficient sleep and untreated sleep disorders are detrimental to physical and mental health. And lack of sleep can have serious physiological as well as psychological consequences. Likewise, the relationship between sleep and mental health is closely connected and bi-directional.
Sleep and mental health are in a cycle where mental health problems can affect how well you sleep, and poor sleep can harm your mental health. Americans are found to be notoriously sleep-deprived, and those with psychiatric conditions are more likely to have insomnia or other sleep disorders.
Keep reading to know more about the relationship between sleep and mental health.
How Sleep and Mental Health Are Related
Most individuals know little about sleep even though we spend about one-third of our lives sleeping.
There are four stages of sleep, non-rapid eye movement (NREM) 1, 2, 3 sleep stages, and the final stage, rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep. Each stage plays a role in brain health, allowing activity in different brain parts to amp up or down, enabling better thinking, learning, and memory consolidation. And research has found that brain activity during sleep significantly affects emotional and mental health.
Sleep deprivation can exacerbate pre-existing mood disturbances or psychiatric conditions, such as anger, depression, and anxiety. Moreover, even a single sleepless night can correlate with these changes. Thus, poor sleep can harm your mental health.
Mental Health Problems Related to Sleep
Having difficulties sleeping and mental health problems are both severe concerns. Following are what mental health issues causes trouble sleeping.
Depression is a mental health disorder that negatively affects how a person feels, thinks, and acts; it is a leading cause of disability worldwide. The United Nations health agency estimated that depression affects more than 300 million people worldwide.
Meta-analysis of 21 studies that investigated the longitudinal associations between insomnia and depression. The study reported that people with insomnia had a twofold risk of developing depression compared to people who sleep peacefully.
The other two studies have identified that insomnia and difficulty sleeping under stress increased the risk for subsequent depression.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), also called seasonal depression, is characterized by depression that occurs at the same time every year, like a seasonal pattern. Sometimes, these mood changes begin and end when the seasons change. For example, People may feel “down” when the days get shorter in the fall and winter; this is also called “winter blues.”
And according to a study published in the Journal of Sleep Research, SAD is closely tied to disrupting a person’s circadian rhythm. It reports that people suffering from SAD often experience nightmares and symptoms of insomnia.
Generally, anxiety is a normal part of life. Most people worry about health, money, or family problems. However, anxiety disorder is more than temporary worry or fear.
For example, anxiety does not go away for people suffering from an anxiety disorder and can worsen over time. Anxiety disorders have many types, such as generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and various phobia-related disorders.
Anxiety disorders are one of the prevalent psychological effects of sleep deprivation. And according to Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, a peer-reviewed medical journal, sleep disturbances-particularly insomnia – are highly prevalent in anxiety disorders. Therefore, assessing anxiety as a single influence on sleep is quite tricky.
Bipolar disorder was formerly called manic-depressive illness or manic depression. It is characterized by extreme mood swings, including emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression).
Research by Clinical Psychology (New York) found that many people with bipolar disorder experience changes in their sleep patterns. During such episodes, there may be a reduced need for sleep. Meanwhile, during bouts of depression, insomnia, or hypersomnia, longer sleep latency is present.
Schizophrenia is a severe mental illness that affects a person’s ability to think, feel and behave clearly. People suffering from schizophrenia may seem like they have lost touch with reality, which can be distressing for them and their family and friends.
Researchers found that sleep problems may be exacerbated by medications used to treat schizophrenia. These findings indicate that sleep disruption is treatable in schizophrenia.
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a condition that affects people’s behavior by an ongoing pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development. ADHD often begins in childhood and may last into adulthood.
It is a disorder that is commonly associated with disturbed sleep. People with ADHD may have difficulty falling asleep, frequent awakenings, excessive daytime sleepiness, and other sleeping problems, such as obstructive sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome (RLS). There is also evidence that the relationship between ADHD and sleep problems is bidirectional.
Autism Spectrum Disorder
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurological and developmental disability caused by differences in the brain. This disorder affects how people interact with others, learn, and behave.
Researchers have found a high prevalence of sleep problems in ASD. Consistent with this finding, relationships have been found between lack of sleep and daytime challenging behavior in individuals with ASD.
Interaction of Mental Health Conditions
In 2018, psychiatrist Oleguer Plana-Ripoll was wrestling with a puzzling fact about mental disorders that many individuals have multiple conditions like anxiety and depression, or schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. It was found that every single mental disorder made the patient susceptible to every other mental disorder — no matter how distinct the symptoms were.
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