Can Sleep Have an Impact on Mental Health?
Why do we need sleep?
Sleep is an essential physiological function that allows our body and mind to recharge. It plays a vital role in helping our bodies and minds recover and rejuvenate. Most adults require between 7 to 9 hours of nightly sleep.
Sleep cycles are regulated by 2 key factors:
Circadian Rhythm – Internal body clock which is regulated by a hormone called melatonin.
Adenosine levels – A chemical that makes us sleepy. It builds up progressively when we are awake.
An average of 8 hours of quality night sleep helps Improve our ability to learn new information & consolidate information from short-term memory to long-term memory, Restoring neural connections (Brain plasticity). It also affects our emotional control, decision-making, and social interaction. Students should get the proper amount of quality sleep at night to help stay focused, improve concentration, improve academic performance, improve memory and improve overall health. Research shows that sleep may promote the removal of waste products from brain cells, thus helping to protect from various Neuro-degenerative Diseases.
“Sleep is the single most effective thing we can do to reset our brain and body health each day. Mother Nature’s best effort yet at contra-death.” – Matthew Walker (Neuroscientist-University of California)
Despite the Innumerable benefits of Sleep. Unfortunately, Today in modern society most people are sleep-deprived, and we don’t even realize it. A CDC study shows that a majority of middle school and high school and college students reported getting less than the recommended amount of sleep for their age. There are many important connections between an individual’s health and sleep. Let’s talk about some of the Health Hazards related to Sleep deprivation.
Sleep Deprivation and the Body
“The shorter your sleep, the shorter your life”- Matthew Walker
Insufficient sleep can severely impact our cardiovascular system, reproductive system, immunity, metabolism, cancer growth and inflammation, and even genetic activity and makeup. Many research studies report that there is evidence that sleep deprivation is associated with obesity, diabetes, depression, and lower life expectancy.
Sleep and mental health are closely connected. Sleep deprivation affects our mental state and psychological state. It can lead to several consequences including memory impairment, worsen focus/concentration, affect emotional control, and can cause mental illnesses from psychiatric conditions to Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia-like conditions. Research shows that a lack of sleep will lead to an increased amount of a toxic protein in the brain called beta-amyloid which is associated with Alzheimer like condition.
Mental health conditions can disrupt sleep and vice versa. This relationship makes complex connections between sleep and psychiatric disorders. That’s why, Extreme sleep deprivation can lead to consequences such as mood swings, irritation, hallucinations, depressive disorders, Anxiety, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). For this reason, addressing sleep problems early on is necessary to help protect our overall health and wellness.
Here are a few tips to improve Sleep hygiene
- An Hour before sleep Stay away from screens (Mobiles, laptops, TV) as they emit blue light that inhibits melatonin release.
- Avoid heavy meals and beverages late at night
- Go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning.
- Avoid taking naps after 3 pm
- Keep your sleeping area as cool as possible. An optimal temperature is about 68 degrees Fahrenheit or about 18.5 degrees Celsius
- Relax before bed (Journaling, reading, listening to music, meditating).
- Avoid alcohol, caffeine, nicotine before bedtime or Late evening.
- Do not stay in bed, awake. After trying to sleep for 15-20 minutes, get up and do something relaxing until you feel sleepy.