Why Sleep Is So Important For Mental Health

Chronic sleep disruptions set the stage for negative thinking, depression, anxiety and emotional vulnerability

In a society that constantly has its finger on the pulse, a good night’s rest is often pushed down the list of priorities. Compromising on your sleep can impact you physically, but it also impacts your mental health. With RUOK Day? just around the corner we’ve explored how sleep, or lack of it, is linked to mental health.

Lack of sleep = unpredictability

You may have noticed you feel more on edge or prone to overreact after a sleepless night, but do you know why? Lack of sleep causes us to lose our level-headedness. Researcher Talma Hendler explains, “The ability of the brain to tell what's important is compromised. It's as if suddenly everything is important.” You’re effectively operating on “high-alert” mode, which means something as small as missing the bus or the barista getting your coffee order wrong can feel like a crisis.

Lack of sleep = low mood

Poor sleep and depression go hand in hand, and while it can be a little “chicken-or-the-egg”, treating one condition will often improve the other. Research suggests that 60-90% of patients with depression have insomnia (and approximately 20% of people with depression have sleep apnea); it’s obvious that looking after your sleep and achieving regular sleep to promote good mental health is imperative.

Lack of sleep = feeling on edge and anxious

Chronic sleep disruptions set the stage for negative thinking, depression, anxiety and emotional vulnerability. According to family practitioner Barbra Alvir, DO, anxiety and sleep are intertwined. Alvir states, “normally when you’re sleeping, your brain is able to take a break, your heart rate slows and it’s almost like your body resets. If you don’t allow that, it’s even harder to deal with daily stress”.

Sleep deprivation can cause anxiety disorders. And the more you try to sleep, the more anxious you become when it isn’t happening. Taking time to create a successful and sustainable sleep pattern will help to ensure longevity and happiness, mentally, physically and emotionally.

Please note: This article is intended for informational purposes only. If you feel like you would benefit from additional support, please touch base with the wonderful people of BeyondBlue.

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