When You Sleep Bad You Feel Bad And Then You Sleep Even Worse
A night or two of crummy sleep means you might be in a crummy mood. But things can get serious when the sleep situation goes south for weeks or months on end which is exactly what happens when youre caring for a newborn.
Sleep deprivation sends your stress hormones skyrocketing and impairs your ability to think clearly and regulate your emotions.
For some people, that might mean having a little less energy or enthusiasm, or getting pissed off a little more easily. But for plenty of others, it can be a tipping point toward major depression or an anxiety disorder.
And since we tend to sleep worse when our emotions are in a bad place, you can end up getting hurled into a vicious cycle of poor sleep, feeling bad because youre sleep deprived, and then not being able to sleep because you feel bad, and the next day feeling even worse.
This sleep-depression cycle is possible for anyone who doesnt log enough shuteye.
But more and more, that sleep deprivation and lower sleep quality play a role in the development of postpartum psychiatric disorders and the worse a new moms sleep is, the greater her risk might be.
The situation can easily keep on snowballing from there.
Women with postpartum depression sleep about 80 fewer minutes a night compared to those without PPD. And infants of depressed mothers tend to sleep worse themselves making it even harder for parents to get the sleep they so desperately need.
How Poor Sleep Affects Your Mental Health
I cant stress this enough: part of managing your mental health includes getting enough sleep. Ive here before: in my career Ive seen how poor sleep can lead to suicidal thoughts, memory issues, even weight gain.
According to an article by Harvard Medical School, 50 to 80 percent of patients in psychiatric care have chronic sleep problems, compared to 10 to 18 percent of American adults without mental health issues.
The trouble is, sleep problems can be a vicious cycle. Sleep deprivation affects your psychological state and mental health, the article reads. And those with mental health problems are more likely to have insomnia or other sleep disorders, such as people with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder and ADHD.
Clinicians used to treat sleep problems as a symptom of mental illness, but in my careerespecially when treating teensI have seen how sleep deprivation can exacerbate symptoms of mental illness.
The Harvard article quoted a 1989 study where those who reported a history of insomnia were four times as likely to develop major depression by the time of a second interview three years later. Another fascinating anecdote? Two more studiesone of 300 pairs of young twins and another of more than 1,000 teensreported that sleep problems cropped up before depression did.
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Excessive Sleepiness Endangers You And Others Around You
A slowed reaction time when driving is only one way that excessive sleepiness can endanger you and others around you. When you havent had enough sleep, even tasks you are used to can become dangerous.
One study found that sleep deprivation hampered information-integration. This is a function of the mind that relies heavily on split-second, gut-feeling decisions.
The researchers noted that this could be a particular concern for firefighters, police officers, soldiers, shift workers, health care workers and others who are often sleep deprived on the job.10
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Sleep And Mental Health: Why Our Brains Need Sleep
Sleep for the brain is like gas for a car. When the tank is full we get where we need to be. But as time goes on, the gauge falls lower and lower until the gas is gone and the car stops. Without the fuel it needs, the car is useless.
Our brains operate in a similar way. The only difference is the brains fuel is sleep. Without proper sleep, our minds begin to slow, unable to operate at their full potential. This happens until the mind becomes so deprived of the rest it needs, it breaks down. And without the commander-in-chief acting accordingly, the rest of the body pays the price.
In this guide, we are going to deep dive into the complex relationship between sleep and mental health, including how these two aspects of health are inversely related, the consequences of sleep deprivation on the mind, and the link between sleep disorders and mental health disorders.
You ready? Were really about to exercise your mind.
While these may seem like comical examples of sleep deprivations effects on the brain, unfortunately, the consequences are much more severe than forgotten names and road rage.
Consequences of Sleep Deprivation on Our Psychological StateThe mechanisms of sleep disruption and mental health are complicated to understand. But what scientists do know is that sleep and mental health are intimately related. After all, its during sleep that we process our emotions and memories.
Mental Illness and Sleep Disorders
How Do I Know If Im Getting Enough Sleep
The amount of sleep your body needs to function optimally varies as you age, with children and teens needing between nine and 12 hours, while adults only need between seven and nine. The majority of experts agree that anything less than six hours a night is unhealthy and can lead to a heightened risk for the aforementioned health problems.
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What Happens If I Don’t Sleep
Everyone’s experienced the fatigue, short temper and lack of focus that often follow a poor night’s sleep.
An occasional night without sleep makes you feel tired and irritable the next day, but it won’t harm your health.
After several sleepless nights, the mental effects become more serious. Your brain will fog, making it difficult to concentrate and make decisions. You’ll start to feel down, and may fall asleep during the day. Your risk of injury and accidents at home, work and on the road also increases.
To find out how to tell if you’re too tired to drive, visit the governments Welcome to THINK! website.
If it continues, lack of sleep can affect your overall health and make you prone to serious medical conditions, such as obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.
Here are 7 ways in which a good night’s sleep can boost your health:
What Kind Of Problems Might I Have With Sleep
We all have nights when its hard to fall asleep or we find ourselves waking up several times. Most sleep problems sort themselves out within a month, but longer stretches of bad sleep can seriously affect our lives.
Self-help techniques can get you back to a more normal sleeping pattern. But sleep problems can be symptoms of other conditions such as depression or thyroid problems, so speak to your GP if they continue.
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Can Sleep Deprivation Make You More Emotional
Yes. Because inadequate sleep interferes with the connection between the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex , sleep deprivation has been closely linked to heightened emotional reactivity. For many, this means that after a night of poor sleep, theyre crankier, quicker to anger, more sensitive to perceived slights, and may respond more impulsively to daily annoyances that they would normally take in stride.
How Much Sleep Do Teenagers Need
The exact optimal amount of sleep your teenager needs will depend on a number of factors including body weight, daily activity level, diet, and lifestyle. However, a good rule of thumb is that teenagers should aim for between 8-9 hours of sleep per night.
Sadly, according to several polls, the average teenager only sleeps about seven hours per night. That means there are a large number of teenagers that are missing the eight-hour mark. So, is this natural teen behavior, or are societal influences causing a significant percentage of teens to get only 6-7 hours per night, while the more fortunate sleepers are getting 8-9 hours? One thing is certain: if your teen isn’t getting a full eight hours of sleep per night, they’re falling short of their full potential, both mentally and physically.
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How To Catch More Zzzs
You want to sleep well and get the amount of sleep you need. So why isnt your brain cooperating? Unfortunately, falling asleep and staying asleep doesnt always come easily. Dr. Gurevich offers these tips for natural sleep remedies.
- Set yourself up for success: Make sure you have a cool, quiet, dark environment to sleep in. Avoid bright lights, screens and caffeine before bedtime. And if you exercise in the evening, finish two or three hours before you go to bed.
- Dont panic: The more you worry about the sleep youre not getting, the harder it is to fall asleep. Do what you can to maximize the chances of a restful night. Then do your best not to fret.
- Treat medical problems: If youre having trouble falling or staying asleep, talk to your doctor. There may be an underlying cause. Common causes of poor-quality sleep include chronic pain, sleep apnea and thyroid disorder.
- Consider your stressors: Try to identify stressors and recognize how theyre affecting the quality and duration of sleep. Stress, anxiety and depression are among the biggest causes of tossing and turning.
- Be boring: If you just cant sleep, get out of bed and go to a different room, but do something boring. Whatever you do, put down the phone. Dont watch TV and dont look at anything that emits light.
- Treat insomnia: Seeking out a therapist trained in cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia .
It takes some time to learn these skills, says Dr. Gurevich, but it pays dividends over your lifetime.
How Much Sleep Do You Need
The average recommended nightly hours of sleep for an adult are between 7-9. For adolescents, it is recommended to get 8-10 hours nightly. There is a range because it varies for each person. The amount of sleep you need may be influenced by genetics and how active you are during the day.
It is ideal to determine how much sleep you actually need during a time when you do not have work, school, or other responsibilities. Pick a time when you have vacation for about a week. Go to sleep when your body feels tired and wake up without an alarm when you feel fully rested. This may be more difficult if you have children or pets that will wake you but try your best to listen to your body.
There may be an adjustment period of about 2-3 days in which your body is catching up from prior sleep deprivation. This is considered sleep debt and should be taken into account when calculating how much sleep you need. After this initial sleep debt period, determine how many hours you need each night thereafter. Then, average that amount of time to determine how many hours your body needs to feel fully rested.
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What Problems Might I Have With Sleep
Everyone needs sleep, but many of us have problems with it. You might recognise some of the experiences listed below, or have other difficulties with sleep that aren’t mentioned here.
- find it hard to fall asleep, stay asleep or wake up earlier than you’d like to
- have problems that disturb your sleep, such as panic attacks, flashbacks, nightmares or psychosis
- find it hard to wake up or get out of bed
- often feel tired or sleepy this could be because you’re not sleeping enough, not getting good quality sleep or because of health problems
- sleep a lot which could include sleeping at times when you want, or need, to be awake.
“When I get depressed, I sleep so much at its worst it was 18 hours a day, because it was the only way that I could stop thinking and stop my mind from saying awful things to me.”
If you’re having problems sleeping, you might:
- be more likely to feel anxious, depressed or suicidal
- be more likely to have psychotic episodes poor sleep can trigger mania, psychosis or paranoia, or make existing symptoms worse
- feel lonely or isolated for example, if you don’t have the energy to see people or they don’t seem to understand
- struggle to concentrate, or make plans and decisions
- feel irritable or not have energy to do things
- have problems with day to day life for example, at work or with family and friends
- be more affected by other health problems, including mental health problems.
Physical Effects Of A Bad Nights Sleep
But even a few missed nights of sleep can take a physical toll on your body, Dr. Gurevich says. Lack of sleep causes an increase in stress hormones, he explains. That triggers your resting heart rate and blood pressure to increase.
Those changes arent usually worrisome if they happen occasionally. The body and brain recuperate quite well from one or two sleepless nights, says Dr. Gurevich. But if it stretches into a month or more, that can have lasting impacts on your heart health, mental health and cognitive abilities.
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The Relationship Between Sleep And Mental Health In Teens
Historically, sleep problems have been associated with a number of psychiatric disorders including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder , anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder. Although correlation doesn’t always equal causation, recent research indicates that lack of sleep may be more than just a symptom of these disorders — it might be one of the primary contributing factors.
A research study carried out at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm and published in Word Psychiatry found that depression and suicidal thoughts were just as common in teens with poor sleep habits as those who engaged in risky behaviors. Another study conducted by the University of Texas Health Science Centre found teens were four times as likely to be depressed if they were sleep deprived.
So, is lack of sleep causing these disorders, or are the disorders making it difficult for the person to get adequate sleep? Well, it seems to be a two-way street: lack of sleep can exacerbate or give rise to a number of disorders, but likewise, many disorders can cause poor sleeping habits.
Sleep And Mental Health:
Another study found that those who are sleep deprived had a less positive affect. In addition, they reported an increase in anxiety and catastrophizing when sleep deprived. This means that a lack of sleep can cause you to feel more stressed and anxious, and to expect negative consequences where there may be none. This can greatly affect your decision-making skills and mood.
In addition, sleep deprivation can lead to an increase in depressive feelings. This can include feeling sad, empty, irritable, and less enthusiastic. According to the National Sleep Foundation, people with insomnia have greater levels of depression and anxiety than those who sleep normally. They are 10 times as likely to have clinical depression and 17 times as likely to have clinical anxiety. These are some pretty significant statistics showing that a lack of sleep can have an influence on your daily functioning, mood, and life satisfaction.
It is important to keep in mind the chicken or the egg discussion. Which comes first? Sleep deprivation or mental health issues? It can occur in both directions, and research shows that some form of sleep deprivation is present in almost all forms of mental illness.
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Cognitive Side Effects Of Not Sleeping
If you were up in the wee hours last night, odds are youre feeling it today. Sleep is important because being awake is important, Dr. Gurevich says. And one or two nights of bad sleep can impair your ability to function well the next day.
Too little sleep even for just one night can leave you dealing with several unpleasant cognitive effects:
- Problems with memory and attention.
- Symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Those effects do more than sour your mood . Paying attention to your surroundings and your reaction time are processes that keep us safe and on task, Dr. Gurevich says.
When those processes arent working as well as they should, it can impair your performance at work or school and even put you at risk of car crashes or other accidents, explains Dr. Gurevich.
Increased Yawning Isnt The Only Result Of Sleep Deprivation:
Nowadays it seems like a contest to be as busy as possible. If your answer to how things are going is not busy, then you are perceived to be lazy. There are often not enough hours in the day to accomplish the tasks you would like to. As a result, many of us cut into our hours of sleep in order to get more done.
Not a big deal, right? You are being more productive and using more time to accomplish the things you need to. Win-win.
But when you look at all of the negative effects of a lack of sleep, there start to be more losses than wins. There are a whole slew of problems that can result from not getting enough sleep, especially long term. Some of these effects include problems with memory and thinking, an increased risk of accidents, changes in mood, weight gain, and a weakened immune system.
In fact, a study found that moderate sleep deprivation produces impairments in cognitive and motor performance equivalent to legally prescribed levels of alcohol intoxication. We dont allow people to drive drunk, yet driving while tired is not against the law, and may even be the norm.
Sleep needs to be prioritized. It needs to be put on the pedestal of importance upon which it rightly belongs. Sleep allows our bodies to recover, regenerate, and recoup from the stress we experience on a daily basis. This is not lazy, nor is it a luxury. It is an essential element of being a healthy, happy, and productive human being.
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