Poor Sleep Makes Learning Difficult
Sleep deprivation affects your ability to learn in two ways.
Firstly, because you cant focus as well, its more difficult to pick up information, so you cant learn efficiently.
Secondly, it affects memory, which is essential to learning.
Sleep is crucial to children as well as adults. In younger children, sleepiness can lead to hyperactivity, which can hinder learning.5
Sleep deprived teenagers may lose the focus, diligence, and memory capacity to perform well in school.6
What Is Sleep Deprivation
Sleep deprivation is the lack of adequate sleep required for optimum functioning. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, one in three American adults do not get the recommended seven hours of sleeping a night. Thats a significant amount of people walking around sleep-deprived.
Its challenging to get through the day while sleep-deprived. Dr. Marika Lindholm, Ph.D. says, The more sleep deprived you are, the more fragile you feel. Small problems can feel insurmountable. This mental state interferes with our interpersonal relationships. Little good comes from sleep deprivation. Even if it seems to give us more hours in the day, those hours are hard to endure.
Are You Sleep Deprived
Most of us know what it feels like the day after a night of little or no sleep. Youre not yourselfyou feel drowsy, sluggish, irritable, and low on energy. Your mind seems groggy, you may struggle to focus, make sloppy mistakes, and need coffee after coffee just to make it through the day until youre able to crawl back into bed at night.
While coping with the occasional night of disturbed sleep can be unpleasant, if youre regularly missing out on a restorative nights rest, you could be seriously damaging your health and quality of life. As well as negatively impacting your mood, energy, and performance at work or school, sleep deprivation can also affect your immune system, heart and brain health, sex drive, and ability to handle stress. It can add inches to your waist, increase your risk of accidents, and lead to serious long-term health problems such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, stroke, anxiety, and depression.
If youve been sleep deprived for a while, it can even seem normal to spend your days feeling tired and out of sorts. But while you may think that youre able to get by on less sleep without suffering any consequences, the truth is that getting sufficient sleep is essential to your physical and mental health.
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Before And After You Consult A Sleep Specialist On The Relationship Between Lack Of Sleep And Depression
Make sure you’re following our tips on getting a better night’s sleep.
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About Kevin Asp, CRT, RPSGT
Because of the implementation of his best practices of Implementing Inbound Marketing in its Medical Practice, he turned the once stagnant online presence of Alaska Sleep Clinic to that of “The Most Trafficked Sleep Center Website in the World” in just 18 months time. He is the President and CEO of inboundMed and enjoys helping sleep centers across the globe grow their business through his unique vision and experience of over 27 years in sleep medicine.
- Connect with Kevin Asp, CRT, RPSGT
Sleep Is A Necessity Not A Luxury
People dont tend to value sleep, and most people who dont get enough sleep dont realise the effects it can have on their health in particular their cognitive and mental wellbeing.
Many people think of sleep simply as a luxury a little downtime. They know they feel better when they have had a good nights sleep, and worse when they havent.
But its important to recognise that sleep is actually a necessity. A regular sleep pattern improves learning, memory and insight as well as helping our bodies to self-regulate.1
Lack of sleep can cause both psychological and physical problems. One night of disturbed sleep might make you feel foggy, but the long-term effects of sleep problems can be very serious.
Excessive sleepiness has been shown to hurt work performance,2 wreak havoc on relationships, and lead to mood problems such as anger and depression.1
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Problems Unshared Or Unburdened
Carrying unshared worries can lead to insomnia, anxiety and depression. We were created to be a part of a community, a problem shared is a problem halved. However, if you find yourself in a position right now of not knowing who or how to share your problems you can start by writing them down. That simply means to list them or describe them and empty them out of YOU, your heart and your mind and dump them onto the paper. What you do with that bit of paper is up to you. You could start a book or burn it in the fire. The job is done you expressed yourself. But keep on expressing yourself in this way so that your head does not chatter away all night trying to deal with these unexpressed feelings and thoughts.
These are just some examples of why insomnia, depression and anxiety can be interlinked and they are by no means exhaustive. But before I move onto what can help break the insomnia-anxiety-depression triangle, I cant miss out a key sleep suppressant without mentioning blue light. Quick question: Are you watching screens or working on computers, phones and tablets late in the evening? If so, then you are either delaying or preventing your brain detox because the blue/green light of your screens is suppressing your sleep hormone, melatonin, pushing you past your natural bed-time. My advice is to stop screen-time by nine at least to allow your body a good hour to prepare for your natural bed-time, the time your body wants you to rest which for most of us is 10pm.
Sleep Boosts Mental Wellbeing
Given that a single sleepless night can make you irritable and moody the following day, it’s not surprising that chronic sleep debt may lead to long-term mood disorders like clinical depression and generalised anxiety disorder in adults.
When people with anxiety or depression were surveyed to calculate their sleeping habits, it turned out that most of them slept for less than 6 hours a night.
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What Does Anxiety Feel Like
The symptoms of anxiety disorders can affect people both emotionally and physically.
People with anxiety may feel extremely nervous and on-edge. This can affect their concentration and mood, leading to irritability and restlessness. Their fear or sense of impending doom can feel overwhelming and out-of-control.
Physically, anxiety disorders can provoke tense muscles, rapid breathing and heartbeat, sweating, trembling, gastrointestinal distress, and fatigue.
Many people with anxiety disorders attempt to avoid situations that could trigger heightened worry however, this does not resolve their underlying fear and can interrupt both professional and personal activities. Over time, a person with anxiety disorder may get used to being worried such that a state of distress or fear seems normal.
Anxiety disorders can occur alongside other mental health problems like depression. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America , nearly 50% of people with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.
What Is The Link Between Sleep And Mental Health
Brain imaging studies that show what is happening when you sleep suggest that a good nights sleep helps build mental and emotional resilience. However, if you regularly experience poor sleep, this can create conditions for negative thinking and emotional vulnerability.
This is because getting enough sleep, especially rapid eye movement sleep, helps your brain process emotional information. It seems that a lack of sleep is especially harmful to processing positive emotional content. A lack of sleep also makes it harder to use the parts of your brain that help you manage emotions. This can influence your mood and emotional reactivity, which, in turn, are linked to mental health conditions and how severe they are.
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Even When Mental Health Problems Precede Disrupted Sleep The Lack Of Sleep Might Exacerbate A Person’s Difficulties
His colleague, the clinical psychologist Daniel Freeman, has called for sleep problems to be given a higher priority within mental health care. Because they are common across different diagnoses, they don’t tend to be viewed as central to a particular condition. He feels they are sometimes neglected, when they could be tackled.
Even when mental health problems precede disrupted sleep, the lack of sleep might exacerbate a person’s difficulties. After all, just one night of sleep deprivation has a well-established negative impact on mood and thinking.
The complex relationship between sleep and mental health is further reinforced by the finding that if you treat depression, the problems with sleep don’t all disappear. It’s easy to see how psychological treatments which help people reduce ruminating over negative thoughts could also result in them falling asleep more easily. But in 2020 Shirley Reynolds, a clinical psychologist at Reading University, and her team trialled three different psychological treatments for depression. They worked equally well in reducing depression, but only sorted out the sleep problems for half of the participants. For the other half, the insomnia persisted, suggesting it was independent of their depression and needed to be addressed separately.
A deficit of sleep has well-established negative effects, including a tendency to withdraw from friends and family
Where To Get Help
- Sleep, Better Health Channel. More information here.
- Why is sleep important? National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. More information here.
- Sleep deprivation, Better Health Channel. More information here.
- Sleep and mood are closely connected, Sleep Health Foundation. More information here.
- Sleep hygiene, Better Health Channel. More information here.
- Sleep – common disorders, Better Health Channel. More information here.
- Herbal remedies and sleep, Sleep Health Foundation. More information here.
- Sleeping pills and natural sleeping aids, Helpguide.org. More information here.
- The link between sleep and mood, Get sleep. More information here.
- Up all night: the effects of sleep loss on mood, Psychology today. More information here.
- Sleep and mental health, Harvard Medical School. More information here.
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Use Medication To Fall Asleep Easier
If you have severe insomnia, your healthcare provider may prescribe medication to help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep throughout the night.
Several prescription sleeping pills are used to treat insomnia, including Lunesta® , Ambien® , Silenor® and others.
Although these medications are effective at promoting sleep, they can cause side effects. Findings are also mixed on their potential effects on rapid eye movement sleep and deep sleep, or slow-wave sleep.
Make sure to closely follow your healthcare providers instructions if youre prescribed any type of sleep medication.
Addressing Or Preventing Sleep Deprivation
If you regularly wake up unrefreshed and are tired during the day, its time to take action to get the sleep you need. It can be tempting to simply pop a pill when youre desperate to get some rest. But theres much you can do to improve the quantity and quality of your sleep, without having to rely on medication.
While sleeping pills or sleep aids can be useful for short-term use, theyre not a cure and dont address the underlying causes of your sleep problemand over time may even make your symptoms worse. Instead, there are a number of lifestyle and behavioral changes you can make to address sleep deprivation and get your sleep schedule back on track.
Calm your anxious mind at night. Avoid screens, work, and stressful conversations in the hour before bed. Instead, develop a relaxing bedtime routine that enables you to wind down and calm your mind. Try taking a warm bath, listening to soft music or an audiobook, reading by a dim light, or practicing a relaxation technique such as deep breathing, meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation.
Postpone worrying. If you lie awake at night anxiously fretting, make a brief note of your worries on paper and allow yourself to postpone worrying until the following day. When youre refreshed after a good nights sleep, youll be in a much better place to deal with the problem.
Maintain a regular sleep schedule. By going to bed and getting up at the same time every day, including weekends, youll support your biological clock.
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Improve Sleep And Avoid Anxiety
To prevent anxiety, stress, and development of depression, it would be better to improve your sleeping habits:
Sleep Deprivation And Depression Links
The relationship between sleep and mental health is well known. While its long been understood that mental health conditions like depression often trigger issues like insomnia or oversleeping, recent research suggests the relationship between sleep deprivation and depression is bidirectional.
This means a lack of sleep isnt only a consequence of depression. Sleep deprivation or disrupted sleep in itself may also cause or worsen symptoms of depression.
Case in point: One 2011 meta-analysis of 21 studies showed that people with insomnia have a two times higher risk of developing depression in the future compared to those who dont have trouble sleeping.
Since insomnia has been identified as a risk factor for depression, researchers believe diagnosing and treating sleep issues early on could possibly help lower the risk of developing depression or reduce symptoms of depression.
However, more studies are needed to further explore the potential impact of insomnia treatment on the risk of depression and symptom reduction.
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Sleep Isnt A Lifestyle Choice Its A Biological Must
A group of researchers have recently been awarded the Nobel Prize for discovering that our body clock, our circadian rhythm, is encoded in our very genes. We are hardwired for sleep! So it puzzles me that some people see sleep as a waste of precious time this is a risky belief .
As a former Nobel prize winner, Sir Paul Nurse, said: Every living organism on this planet responds to the Sun. We on this planet are slaves to the Sun. The circadian clock is embedded in our mechanisms of working, our metabolism, its embedded everywhere. Its a real core feature for understanding life.
We cannot step outside of our circadian rhythm, as set by the sun, and not feel the consequences.
How Is Depression Treated
While depression can have dramatic effects on a persons sleep and overall quality of life, it can be treated. After working with a doctor or mental health provider to understand the type and severity of depression, treatment may include:
- Counseling: Depression can be treated effectively with several types of counseling, including cognitive-behavioral therapy and interpersonal therapy . CBT for insomnia is a type of CBT that focuses on managing chronic insomnia.
- Medications: Antidepressants are an effective treatment for depression. These prescription medications usually take time before they begin to improve symptoms and patients may need to try several antidepressants before finding the right fit. A doctor or psychiatrist can discuss the appropriateness of these medications and recommend a specific type.
- Brain stimulation therapies: When medications and other approaches are not effective, some people with depression consider electroconvulsive therapy or other, more recent types of brain stimulation like repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation and vagus nerve stimulation . These treatments can be effective but are only provided under the guidance of a trained professional.
Treatment often isnt limited to just one of these approaches in fact, combining medication and psychotherapy has shown higher rates of improvement than one approach alone.
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Increased Risk Of Injuries
According to a National Sleep Foundation Study, drowsiness or fatigue is the principle cause of at least 100,000 traffic accidents each year. One North Carolina state study found that 55% of all fall-asleep crashes were caused by drivers under the age of 25. Parents shouldnt let sleep deprived adolescents get behind the wheel anymore than they would if their kid had been drinking.
But while it might pose the most serious risk, driving is not the only danger. After getting between 3 and 4 hours of sleep for several nights in a row, while working on a term paper in his sophomore year of high school, Gabriel Levine went into his kitchen at 3am to get a snack. Instead of slicing through a wedge of cheese he sliced through his thumb clear to the bone, severing a ligament. It ended up requiring a trip to the emergency room and two surgeries to repair it, and I spent 6 weeks in a cast, says Levine, now 19 and a freshman in college. Though he says the injury was absolutely the result of how little sleep Id been getting by on for months, he didnt get any extensions on homework or papers. And because he could only type with one hand, he ended up having to stay up even later to finish his work.
How Can Treating Insomnia Reduce Depression
If the root cause of your depression is insomnia, then treating insomnia will help in curing depression. At the same time, if other issues are causing depression along with insomnia then treating insomnia and depression at the same time might be of help.
Here are a few tips that in mix with antidepressants and narcotic hypnotics might enhance rest and resolve a sleeping disorder and in this way help in curing depression:
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