The Connection Between Sleep and Mental Health

Updated on February 18, 2021

In an increasingly busy and stressful world, getting the “just right” amount of sleep may elude many. Medical studies and recommendations continue to recommend that adults should get somewhere between seven and nine hours of sleep nightly. However, most adults continue to turn in late and rise early, getting less than the low-end of the recommendation. Some swear that it is due to their body, and while this may hold some truth, the reality is, not getting enough sleep over time will adversely impact physical and mental health.

The Role of the Sleep Cycle

When turning in for the night, stimulating activities need to cease so the body can sleep. Spending in bed looking at cruise 2022 deals keeps the brain too engaged to enter the sleep cycle. Why is sleeping so important? The body uses this time to repair itself and perform crucial body functions that keep it healthy. The immune system gets a boost, the muscles get repaired, and the brain recharges. Too often, though, the sleep cycle is cut short or is not performed consistently. After being interrupted or unable to complete the tasks nightly, the body and brain start to feel the effects. Exhaustion sets in, and people turn to stimulants such as caffeine to cope. Since the body’s restorative process does not get to finish, various things start to go wrong.

The Toll Sleep Deprivation Takes on the Brain

The brain runs the body. It is what pumps the heart, draws breath into the lungs and sends chemicals surging for digestion. Sleep is the time it gets imperative functions done. When the hours prove insufficient for the brain to perform its work fully, chemicals become unbalanced, and it is harder to maintain control over emotional function. Moods may become overall gloomier when the brain does not recharge properly. In some, a constant lack of sleep may result in more serious and longer-lasting mental health conditions.

Mental Health Conditions Linked to Sleep Deprivation

For years, the medical community has believed that lack of sleep was a side effect of mental health conditions. However, further research is now pointing towards sleep deprivation being more of a cause as well. It is now believed to be one of the leading causes of major depressive disorder, something that can cripple a person with sadness and disengagement from life. Bipolar disorder is another condition that too little sleep may trigger. Even for those undergoing treatment through therapy and prescription medication, not getting enough sleep may lead to the erratic behavior of mania. The unease and panic present in those with anxiety are magnified by the brain’s lack of nightly emotional restoration.

The Role of Stress

With the demands facing many in these trying times, stress is a natural and common issue. When stress takes hold of the mind, it can magnify every mental health struggle as well as send body systems into a tailspin. Stress that continues for too long triggers the body’s fight or flight response, which pumps out cortisol. This chemical floods the brain and keeps the muscles tense and the heart rate elevated. A person in this heightened state cannot easily sleep until the perceived threat is gone. Once sleep does come, it is often short-lived. People who report high-stress levels also deal with anxiety and depression on a regular basis. Proving again that when the brain cannot perform its nightly tasks, it puts the waking body into turmoil.

The connection between mental health and sleep issues is fairly strong. Finding time to get the body and brain ready for sleep may prove crucial in achieving a more restful night. While this is not always easily achieved, making a good night’s rest a priority may go a long way in improving the overall quality of life. More rest puts the body in a better position to handle the rigors of everyday life, thereby improving mental and physical health overall.

The Editorial Team at Healthcare Business Today is made up of skilled healthcare writers and experts, led by our managing editor, Daniel Casciato, who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We offer readers access to fresh health, medicine, science, and technology developments and the latest in patient news, emphasizing how these developments affect our lives.