The Importance of Getting Enough Sleep for Mental Health: Understanding the Links to Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Anxiety Disorders, and ADHD
Between jobs, schooling, kids, family, and everything in between, it is not uncommon to see people pushing their days extra long just to fit all of their errands into it. This does not leave a lot of extra time at night to get a good night’s sleep. About two-thirds of Americans say they do not get a good night’s sleep during the week, according to a survey taken by the Sleep Foundation. The lack of sleep is caused by many different factors, especially amongst different generations. Many people feel like it is simply not possible to get enough sleep, and that they function fine without the requisite 8 hours – but what long-term impacts could this have?
Whatever the reason that you may not be getting enough sleep, there are a number of adverse effects it has on your mental health. Hopefully, you will be able to find some extra time to sleep, or maybe you can make some changes before you start to suffer from one of the following mental disorders.
There are studies using different methods and populations that have estimated that about 65% to 90% of adult patients with major depression, and about 90% of children with depression experience some kind of sleep problem. Most of these people suffer from insomnia; however, there are some cases that are linked to obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep problems seem to be both a symptom of and a trigger for depression. Lack of sleep can lead to increased negative thinking and irritability, which can trigger depression. Furthermore, depression-related anxiety can cause insomnia, which can lead to the exacerbation of depression.
Studies report that 69% to 99% of patients experience insomnia or report less need for sleep during a manic episode of bipolar disorder. In bipolar depression, however, studies report that 23% to 78% of patients sleep too much while others may experience insomnia or restless sleep. The changes in sleep patterns can be difficult for patients to identify, which makes them even more challenging to address. Medications for bipolar disorders often have side effects that can worsen sleep problems, making it even more challenging to treat both disorders together.
Sleep problems affect more than 50% of adult patients with generalized anxiety disorder. One study found that younger people with an anxiety disorder took longer to fall asleep and slept less deeply when compared with a control group of healthy children. While insomnia is less likely to cause anxiety as it is depression, it is certainly very likely to worsen existing anxiety. The difficulty in falling asleep, combined with a negative thinking pattern, can lead to a vicious cycle that ultimately exacerbates an existing anxiety disorder.
Sleep problems affect 25% to 50% of children with ADHD. Typical problems include difficulty falling asleep, shorter sleep duration, and restless slumber. A lot of ADHD cases are linked with a number of different sleep disorder-breathing-related issues, as well as restless leg syndrome and other different disorders. In general, sleep problems seem to be part of the attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) clinical picture, with the possibility that ADHD causes sleep problems and vice versa.
If you are worried about what your sleep habits may do to your mental health, there are some different things you can try to help you get rid of your insomnia.
If you are a drinker or a smoker, it would be best to give them both up altogether, but doing so is not always practical for everybody. Simply try to avoid them before bedtime. Also, try to establish a regular sleep-and-wake schedule. This can help you sleep better and feel more rested.
Regular aerobic activity helps people fall asleep faster, spend more time in deep sleep, and awaken less often during the night. Try engaging in physical activities like walking, biking, or swimming.
Good sleep hygiene
Good “sleep hygiene” is the term often used to include tips like maintaining a regular sleep-and-wake schedule, using the bedroom only for sleeping or sex, and keeping the bedroom dark and free of distractions like the computer or television.
Because people with insomnia tend to become preoccupied with not falling asleep, cognitive-behavioral techniques help them to change negative expectations and try to build more confidence that they can have a good night’s sleep. A therapist can help you identify, challenge, and replace negative thoughts and behaviors.
If doing some of these absolutely do not help you get a better night’s sleep, there is always an option of trying various sleep medications. Of course, if you fall into one of the mental disorders, there are medical treatment options to help you as well. If you are interested in reading more about sleep disorders and how they can affect you, follow this link to a study done by Harvard.
In conclusion, sleep is vital for our physical and mental health. Lack of quality sleep can affect our mood, cognitive function, and overall well-being. If you are struggling with insomnia or any other sleep problems, it is essential to reach out to a health professional. With proper diagnosis and treatment, many sleep problems can be managed effectively.