In this busy world, our lives seem to be moving faster and faster. As a result, we often cut corners on things like eating and drinking well, booking holidays or taking sufficient daily exercise. Another area where people often fall short relates to having sufficient sleep each night.
Whilst many appreciate that our bed quality can affect our sleep, fewer realize that sleep deprivation can affect our mental health. If you’ve been wondering about this issue yourself, read on because this article will explain why sleep is so important for our mental wellbeing.
What Is Sleep And Why Is It Important?
According to information coming from the National Sleep Foundation, adults require seven to nine hours of sleep every single night. Sleep is what our bodies need to recover and rejuvenate. As we sleep, the cells in our brain rest as it recharges itself for another day of activity. During this time, the body also restores energy by producing hormones that regulate appetite and growth. When we sleep, our bodies release hormones like serotonin and dopamine. They are what make us feel better when we’re down or stressed out.
Besides having a good bedtime (and getting up) routine, the quality of our bed can have a direct impact on our night’s rest. People who go online to view the Puffy bed base reveal how keen people are to see product photos and prices (including for upholstered bed frames) before they decide. They also seek bed bases you can adjust using a handy remote, and that are squeak-free and easy to assemble at home.
What Is Sleep Deprivation?
One of the first warning signs that someone may suffer from a mental illness is if they are struggling with sleep. This may involve not being able to fall asleep, or entering a vicious circle of waking up anxious throughout the night.
Some of the symptoms of sleep deprivation are:
- Feeling physically exhausted throughout the day.
- Having no motivation, even to complete simple tasks such as getting out of bed or brushing your teeth.
- Increased irritability towards others both personally and professionally.
- Inability to think clearly, leading to poor judgment calls
- Cognitive impairment
- Problems during working hours which could lead to unemployment/lowered income etc.
- Overreaction to unexpected circumstances
Our Physical Health Affects Our Mental Health
Whilst having a few days without enough rest won’t hurt you, it can actually be extremely detrimental to your health if this is sustained. We are body, soul and spirit so if one part of us isn’t functioning properly, the rest of us suffers. If we are feeling depressed we may feel lacking in energy; if we are unwell we may become depressed.
Our immune system is responsible for protecting us against infections and diseases. If we are immune-compromised (e.g. through sleep deprivation) it is more difficult to fight off viruses such as the common cold or flu, which can often cause depression if they become severe enough.
It’s important that our blood pressure remains at acceptable levels at all times. When people experience regular sleep loss, high blood pressure becomes a risk. People who suffer from this medical condition often have a higher risk of heart attack or stroke.
Sleep Affects Our Mood
When we don’t get enough sleep, our brain doesn’t function at its best. We experience fatigue and a lack of energy which will impact our moods. This makes us more likely to become irritable or feel anxious, leading to increased stress levels.
Cortisol affects blood sugar regulation, immune system function, cardiovascular health (including hypertension), memory retention/recall, skin integrity/elasticity and muscle tissue repair. Cortisol is the stress hormone that our bodies produce when we are in a challenging or confrontational situation.
When these increased levels become excessive or prolonged (a state of cortisol resistance) it can lead to more inflammation. In turn, this can lead to obesity, Diabetes type II, heart disease and depression. Our cortisol levels get out of whack if we don’t get enough sleep because we need time to recover between bursts. If they remain high throughout the day without adequate recovery periods we will feel sluggish and tired.
We May Become Unhappy About Our Weight
Lack of sleep has been linked to an increase in weight gain and obesity. This is because our bodies produce less leptin when we don’t get enough rest. Leptin is what tells us when we are full so if there isn’t enough produced, we tend to eat too much. In turn, this leads to weight gain.
The cortisol issues we have just discussed can cause an increase in our appetite too, resulting in weight changes that may be unhealthy for our bodies. If we become overweight, our self-esteem and confidence may take a dive and we will become over-conscious of our physical appearance.
Sleep Affects Our Focus And Concentration
The benefits of getting a good night’s sleep are that it helps us focus more clearly throughout our daily tasks and we’re better able to remember the information we’ve been taught. When we don’t get enough rest, our concentration and focus are affected the next day. We may become irritable and tired, struggling to learn or pay attention. It then becomes difficult to do anything requiring a lot of brainpower (like studying for exams or solving work problems).
Lack of concentration makes our communication skills worse, so sleep-deprived people find socializing much more exhausting than usual. As a result, it can lead to feelings of isolation, anxiety and depression.
As you can see, it’s important to have the big picture in view. People need a healthy lifestyle of a decent diet and regular hydration. There should be the discipline of taking exercise for at least thirty minutes daily and a strictly followed sleep routine. If our sleep falls out of line it has a spin-off effect on both our physical and mental health. For this reason, anyone who is experiencing issues with their sleep and psychological wellbeing should seek help and make changes to their lifestyle.