Sleep Deprivation And Mental Health


Share post:

What Problems Might I Have With Sleep

How does sleep deprivation affect your mental health?

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.

You might:

  • 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.

Overcoming Sleep Deprivation And Mental Health Issues

Staying awake for too long can truly be a horrible experience.

Remember, a well-rested brain helps with everything from processing information, to consolidating your memories, and handling your emotions.

If youre struggling with a lack of sleep thats affecting your mental health, or a mental health condition thats making it impossible to sleep talk to a doctor.

Most medical professionals will be able to guide you through some strategies, such as lifestyle changes, updates to your sleep hygiene routine and even trying cognitive behavioural therapy.

The most common treatments for sleep deprivation and mental healthdisorders include:

Adding more exercise to your routineExercise improves both your mental health, and your ability to get a good nights sleep. Adding a bit of regular exercise to your day will help you to produce more feel-good chemicals, eliminate stress, and relax at night.

Improving your sleep hygieneAs mentioned above, updating your sleep hygiene is the key to overcoming sleep problems, which can improve your mental health too. Try updating your bedroom, getting rid of anything that might stop you from sleeping well. Remember to stick to a regular routine too.

Relaxation and meditationRelaxation and meditation techniques will help you to process your thoughts, eliminating anxiety and stress, and thus helping you to sleep more soundly too.

Sleep Deprivation Effects On The Brain

Sleep deprivation means getting an insufficient amount of sleep. The average adult requires between seven to nine hours per night for optimal functioning.1 Sleep is beneficial to both the functioning of our brains and bodies. Conversely, sleep deprivation or non-restorative sleep can have a myriad of negative effects, particularly on our cognitive functioning. Lack of sleep effects can include memory and judgment impairment, mood swings, and sleep deprivation headaches. Other common signs of sleep deprivation may be clumsiness, and weight gain or weight loss. Chronic partial or total sleep deprivation can seriously impact your physical and mental health.

Recommended Reading: Effects Of Drugs On Brain

How Can I Improve My Sleep

There are many things you can try to help yourself sleep well.

  • Establish a regular, relaxing bedtime routine that lets you unwind and sends a signal to your brain that it’s time to sleep.
  • Create a restful environment: bedrooms that are dark, cool and quiet are generally easier to fall asleep and stay asleep in.
  • Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day.
  • Exercise regularly but avoid vigorous exercise near bedtime if it affects your sleep.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed. They can stop you falling asleep and prevent deep sleep.
  • Only use your bed for sleep or sex. Unlike most physical activity, sex makes us sleepy.
  • Try apps and online programmes designed to help with sleep problems such as Pzizz, Sleepio or Sleepstation.
  • Avoid using screens in the evening, including on smartphones and tablets. The light from the screen can have a negative effect on sleep, and social media, news and games can all stimulate your brain and make you feel anxious.
  • Write down your worries if you lie awake worrying about tomorrow. This can help put your mind at rest.
  • If you can’t sleep, don’t worry about it. Get up and do something relaxing like listening to music or reading until you feel sleepy.

So Perhaps Persistent Issues With Sleep Need To Be Taken More Seriously In Teenagers And Adults

Sleep Deprivation leads to mental sluggishness

Foster is convinced that from a biological perspective, the best way to disentangle the web of correlation and causation is by studying the impact that disruption of circadian rhythms could be having on the brain. He says we need to look at the complex interactions between multiple genes, brain regions and neurotransmitters to understand what’s happening.

So perhaps persistent issues with sleep need to be taken more seriously in teenagers and adults. Sleep interventions are straightforward, and in some cases successful. What is already clear, from a meta-analysis of 49 studies, is that tackling poor sleep among those with insomnia, who are already experiencing symptoms of depression, not only helps them sleep better but also reduces the depression.

Insomnia and mental health issues can exacerbate each other

The large Oasis trial led by Daniel Freeman across 26 universities in the UK found that digital cognitive behavioural therapy for students with insomnia, not only helped them to sleep, but reduced the occurrence of hallucinations and paranoia, symptoms of psychosis.

Issues Caused By A Lack Of Sleep

Stress negatively affects your nervous system, and people with anxiety disorders experience stress at a more acute level, regardless of its cause. Their nervous systems struggle to revert back to baseline after exposure to a stressful event. Instead, they remain alert at all times, hindering healthy sleep patterns.

Constant anxiety can cause hormone imbalances, particularly when it comes to melatonin, the brains sleep-inducing hormone. When you are experiencing stress, you force your brain to work harder to produce enough melatonin to get you to sleep at night. Eventually, it wont be able to pump out enough of this crucial hormone, which will lead to damaged sleep cycles, insomnia, and other issues.

Experiencing sustained periods of anxiety can leave you in a state of depression. Depression has associations with feelings of hopelessness, sadness, emptiness, guilt and anger, and it can affect virtually every facet of your life. It even has the power to suppress your immune system, leaving you prone to infections and other physical ailments.

A lack of sleep can furthermore cause poor impulse control. Some people are impulsive by nature, but others exhibit impulsive tendencies because their typical decision-making processes are being hindered by sleep deprivation. An exhausted brain and overstimulated neurons can notably compromise your decision-making abilities, and may even produce hallucinations and suicidal thoughts.

happy mother and child

Treatment To Help With Sleep Problems

If self-help doesn’t work, talk to your doctor. Consider keeping a sleep diary for 10 days before your visit so you can explain the problem. Doctors will generally look for any underlying medical or psychological reason for the problem and may suggest further changes to your routine or lifestyle to help improve your sleep.

If these don’t work, your doctor may suggest sleeping pills for insomnia. Sleeping tablets can help in the short term but quickly become less effective and can even make your sleeping problems worse. They can also be very addictive. For all these reasons, sleeping pills are generally prescribed at the lowest dose and for a short period of time.

If your problems persist, your doctor may refer you to a specialist sleep disorder clinic.

Sleep Deprivation Can Affect Your Driving Record And Mental Health

Of all the basic activities that are required of people to maintain a healthy and well-rounded lifestyle, getting a sufficient amount of sleep each night is one of the most imperative ones.

Despite this universal knowledge of the importance of rest and recovery, most folks take it for granted. They deem sleep as something that is low on the totem pole of priorities and try to fit it in when they can rather than the other way around.

This lack of sleep can snowball, leading to dangerous consequences after a long period of deprivation. Just as skipping meals, keeping up with hygiene, and putting harsh substances in your body can be unsafe, being too tired to operate throughout the day is potentially catastrophic.

Falling asleep at the wheel would have to be considered the riskiest fallout of skipping out on a good nights sleep. If you are lucky enough to survive the accident, the financial reverberations could put a major dent in your pocketbook.

This article will look at that terrible possibility, along with what is causing a lack of sleep in society, what would be described as good sleep, and some simple ways you can get more of it.

Tips For Creating Healthy Sleep Habits And Improving Sleep

Is Sleep Deprivation Linked to Emotions/Mental Health?
  • Try to keep a consistent sleep schedule, waking up around the same time even on weekends.
  • Set a bedtime that is early enough for you to get at least 7 hours of sleep. However, dont go to bed unless you are sleepy.
  • Establish a relaxing bedtime routine that helps to transition from your day.
  • If youre having trouble falling asleep, dont lie in bed awake. If you cant get to sleep, get out of bed, and do something relaxing until you feel tired.
  • Create a healthy sleep environment avoid bright lights and loud sounds, keep the room at a comfortable cool temperature, and try to limit electronics in your bedroom.
  • Exercise regularly .
  • Avoid caffeine and nicotine late in the day and limit alcoholic drinks before bed.

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 Does Poor Sleep Affect My Mental Health

Do you often work longer in the night? Do you spend a lot of time partying with friends into the early hours? Or do you have young children who often keep you awake at night? If you answered yes, you may not be getting the right amount of sleep. Sleep and mental health often go hand in hand, and a bad night’s sleep could disrupt your mental health.

With work, family and other life commitments, many of us just dont get the recommended seven or eight hours of sleep. Having another coffee to get us through the day can sometimes become the norm.

It can be easy to dismiss sleep as not being important in maintaining a mentally healthy lifestyle but are we missing a trick? How important is a good nights sleep to how we function mentally?

Dr Natasha Bijlani of Priory Hospital Roehampton explains why sleep is so important to our mental health, and what we can do to help improve our sleeping habits.

Does Sleep Affect Happiness

A substantial body of evidence suggests that sleep and happiness are closely linked, and that their relationship is likely bi-directional. One large analysis, for instance, found that people who reported greater positive affect in their daily life were more likely to sleep better overall the improved sleep, in turn, appeared to bolster their positive mood. Research in children has shown that sleep deprivation is linked to more negative moods and challenges with emotional regulation on the other hand, children and teens who get adequate amounts of sleep report feeling happier.

How Does Sleep Relate To Mental Health

What are the effects of Sleep Deprivation?

There’s a close relationship between sleep and mental health. Living with a mental health problem can affect how well you sleep, and poor sleep can have a negative impact on your mental health.

“Poor sleep leads to worrying. Worrying leads to poor sleep. Worrying about sleep is like your mind trying to fight itself. That’s a horrible place to be.”

Sleep Deprivation And Safety Concerns

Lack of sleep can have serious repercussions for individuals and those around them. Getting less than seven hours of sleep greatly increases your potential for car crashes, according to research by Oxford University. Sleep deprivation is linked to seven percent of all car accidents and 16% percent of fatal crashes. Sleep harms not only the safety of the individual struggling but others around them.

Sleep deprivation is also linked to other types of harmful situations. Sleep deprivation is a factor in causing many tragic events of human error, like the Chernobyl meltdown, the space shuttle Challenger explosion, and the Exxon Valdez oil spill, according to Dr. Lindholm. Lives and the environment couldve been saved if the people responsible were well-rested and thinking clearly. Sleep deprivation has detrimental consequences and should be expected of working adults.

Sleep Helps Remove Toxins From Your Brain

Your bodys glymphatic system is very important to your brain health. This system helps deliver nutrients to your brain, and uses cerebral spinal fluid to remove brain waste. Some of this brain waste beta-amyloid and tau proteins can be especially dangerous. Thats because the build-up of these toxins has been linked to Alzheimers Disease.

The glymphatic system is at peak efficiency during slow-wave sleep, one of your deep sleep phases. As you grow older, slow-wave sleep becomes harder to maintain. Many researchers believe that this may contribute to the onset of Alzheimers Disease as well.

Signs And Symptoms Of Sleep Deprivation

Everyone experiences symptoms of sleep deprivation in varying ways. Sleep deprivation harms your ability to properly function, no matter the symptoms. There are several signs to look for if you think you are dealing with sleep deprivation. If you arent getting enough sleep and feel like its making you irritable, moody, and impairing your physical health, you likely are sleep deprived. Signs of sleep deprivation generally include:

  • Fatigue and exhaustion
  • Muscle pain and headaches
  • Suppressed immune system

Experiencing any of these symptoms is a sign of sleep deprivation to take seriously. Not getting enough sleep for one night may seem trivial, but the more it happens the more your body and mind will recede from optimum functioning. These signs and symptoms are also closely connected to health issues, whether an illness is the cause of your sleep deprivation or vice versa.

Effect Of Inadequate Sleep On Frequent Mental Distress

Impact of sleep loss on mental health

ORIGINAL RESEARCH â Volume 18 â June 17, 2021

Amanda Blackwelder, MPH1 Mikhail Hoskins, MPH1 Larissa Huber, PhD1

Suggested citation for this article: Blackwelder A, Hoskins M, Huber L. Effect of Inadequate Sleep on Frequent Mental Distress. Prev Chronic Dis 2021 18:200573. DOI: .



What is already known on this topic?

One-third of US adults report that they sleep less than the recommended amount, and approximately 20% have received a diagnosis of a mental illness. The link between inadequate sleep and mental distress has been viewed historically as a symptomdisease association with sleep inadequacies deriving from preexisting mental distress.

What is added by this report?

We examined the association between inadequate sleep and frequent mental distress in a diverse, population-based sample of adults aged 18 to 65.

What are the implications for public health practice?

The Importance Of Rem Sleep

The REM sleep cycle is where the emotionally and mentally restorative qualities of sleep truly lie. If you are enjoying enough REM sleep at night, you are better equipped to regulate your emotions and make rational judgements and decisions. If you arent getting enough REM sleep, however, you may experience mood swings, anxiety and memory issues, and may suffer from poor decision-making skills.

Ultimately, sleep deprivation and mental health disorders worsen each others symptoms, creating a kind of negative feedback loop. Once the conditions take hold, they can leave you locked in a vicious cycle that can be difficult to break free from without professional guidance.

Recognizing Sleep Deprivation In Teens

Here are a few common signs to watch for that might indicate that your teen is not getting enough sleep.

  • Having trouble waking up most mornings
  • Irritability and mood swings
  • Falling asleep easily during the day
  • Trouble concentrating or poor academic performance
  • Sleeping very late on weekends
  • Hyperactivity and nervousness
  • Aggressive behavior

Moreover, the stages of sleep deprivation include acute sleep deprivation, including the symptoms above, and chronic sleep deprivation, which can lead to serious physical and mental health problems.

What Are The Causes Of Sleep Deprivation

Modern society demands too much from its people. We are always plugged into something, whether it be our jobs, our families, or the shocking news that flashes up on Twitter when scrolling through our social media.

Because of how busy we are throughout the day, many people are forced to deprive themselves of sleep. They either dont have the time to sleep due to work, or they choose to spend their scarce free hours getting some enjoyment at the risk of losing sleep. After all, it isnt healthy to just work, eat, and sleep.

Mental health problems can also be a byproduct of sleep disturbances, such as sleeping not enough or sleeping too much. Sleep is tied to whats going on inside our brains as much as it is to any other parts of our bodies.

Anxiety over what is happening in our personal lives messes up our resting habits, and then the resulting lack of sleep continues to pile on to our poor mental state it is a difficult bidirectional relationship to escape from.

Related articles

Mental Health Background Checks For Firearm Ownership

They Fall Under A Broader Category Of Mental Illness ...

Mental Health Crisis Plan Worksheet

Suicide Risk Assessment Worksheet How...

Western Mental Health Marshall Mn

Integrity Teamwork A Passion For Helping Others ...

Raising Awareness For Mental Health

Be Supportive Not Judgmental Mental...