How Sleep Impacts Mental Health

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By Ali Mariani

 

Ever notice that after getting a small amount of sleep you are more irritable, more easily agitated, and just generally crankier? It’s not a coincidence. This is a physical reaction to not getting enough sleep. Sleep impacts our mental health, for better or for worse.

 

I have always been someone who requires 9 hours of sleep—at least. I am not kidding—when I get anything less, I feel it in my body. This has definitely led to me being very disciplined in my sleep habits. I have learned that my best mental health is contingent upon a regimented and disciplined sleep schedule.

 

I have always known that sleep plays a role in mental health, but I wanted to research just how much of a role it really plays. So I hit the Internet—of course.  What I found blew me away.

 

According to the Harvard Mental Health Letter titled Sleep and mental health (2009):

 

“Sleep problems are mores likely to affect patients with psychiatric disorders than people in the general population. Sleep problems may increase risk for developing particular mental illnesses, as well as result from such disorders.” (Harvard Health Publication, 2009)

 

Sleep problems can also increase a person’s risk of developing depression, a lack of sleep can trigger mania in individuals with Bi-polar Disorder, and a lack of sleep can worsen anxiety and PTSD symptoms.

 

Aside from individuals with psychiatric disorders, lack of sleep can have some immediate consequences for everyone including:

 

-Memory loss/memory impairment

-Inability to focus

-Irritability

-Diminishes moral and optimism

-Slows reaction time and impairs judgment

-Slows train of thought/cognitive impairments

 

This website offers some really great tips for getting back into a sleep cycle that works for you: http://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/sleep-problems/sleep-problems/

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