Sat. Jun 22nd, 2024

Have you ever faced a question like, “Which bedside did you wake up on?”? They asked you that question because you were most likely looking anxious and grumpy. Sleep disturbance has a high potential to cause psychological distress.

The truth is that you wake up feeling better when you have a good night’s rest. Indeed, sleep is linked to your physical and mental health. Sleep deprivation decreases positive emotions and cognitive skills. You tend to be forgetful, easily lose concentration, and  understand new things slower after a night of tossing and turning.

At times, you may need to talk to your family doctor when having chronic sleep deprivation. This is because insufficient sleep can contribute to severe physical and mental health problems.

Here is what you need to know about sleep deprivation and its effects on your mental health.

What Is Sleep Deprivation?

An adult should sleep 7 to 9 hours every night, while teens and children should sleep more. But, a good night’s sleep is not the number of hours, instead, it’s the quality of sleep. 

One can sleep nine hours yet with frequent awakenings, thus fragmenting their sleep. Such deprivation results from sleeping fewer hours than recommended. Doing this can cause numerous health problems.

A night of no or minimal sleep can leave you feeling like a zombie. A night without good sleep can make you feel drowsy with an irritable mood, slowed thinking, and without energy. Sleep deprivation is a common problem that has become prevalent in recent years.

Thankfully, a primary care physician has the knowledge and experience to handle such a challenge. Older adults who don’t get enough sleep can now get the needed help. This is crucial because acute sleep debt directly affects how you think and feel. 

Chronic sleep deprivation can lead to mental health problems, including:

  • Mood changes
  • Worsened memory
  • Reduced attention span
  • Anxiety
  • Hallucinations
  • Risk of depression

How Insufficient Sleep Influences Mental Health

Some people perceive sleep loss as a minor issue but such insufficiency of body rest can cause daytime drowsiness.This can mount up and take a toll on the various aspects of your mind and body. In the same way your electronics need to charge, your brain and body need to reset to optimize functioning.

Insufficient or poor quality sleep can expose you to the risk of mental health disorders. This may worsen various mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation. Indeed you should talk to your primary care physician when you experience chronic sleep problems.

Some of the psychiatric symptoms of sleep deprivation include:

  • Depression

Statistics show that 251-310 million people globally have depression. This is a major depressive disorder that affects how you feel, think, and act. It’s also a mood disorder type that causes feelings of hopelessness or sadness.

Several depressed people have symptoms of insomnia. They may also suffer from hypersomnia and excessive daytime sleepiness. Thus, poor sleep can exacerbate depression, a condition that also interferes with sleep.

  • Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders affect both adults and children. It creates excess worry or fear that can contribute to health problems such as diabetes and heart disease. Some of the popular types of anxiety disorders are:

  • Panic disorder
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • General anxiety disorder
  • Specific phobias
  •  Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

Getting insufficient sleep can cause worry. Sleep problems tend to create anticipatory anxiety during bedtime, making it harder to fall asleep. Replaying negative events can lead to nightmares and keeps you alert throughout the night. Sleeping fewer hours can activate anxiety if you’re at high risk for it.

  • Impaired Brain Activity

Sleep deprivation can impair your brain activities, such as concentration, learning, and memory. Further, poor sleep can affect your problem-solving skills, coordination, judgment, reaction time and also reduce creativity. A person with chronic sleep deprivation and a drunkard often has impaired motor skills which can increase the risk of causing accidents.

Other effects of sleep deprivation on your physical health and well-being include;

  • It causes fatigue and reduces motivation at work, school, or home.
  • It weakens your immune system, which exposes you to frequent infections, colds, and respiratory diseases.
  • It impacts your cardiovascular system, which can raise blood sugar levels, and blood pressure, trigger inflammation and increase the risk of heart disease.
  • It changes your appearance, where your skin ages prematurely and you gain weight.
  • Increases chances of getting serious health problems like Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and certain cancers.
  •  Acute sleep depression can contribute to anger issues and increased moodiness that can trigger arguments. It can also decrease sex drive, cause fertility problems, and interfere with the production of hormones.

Tips for Improving Your Sleep

Some people turn to sleep aids or pills after acute sleep deprivation. But, your family doctor can recommend other ways since this is a short-term solution. Waking up frequently at night will make you tired and unrefreshed during the day. 

So, instead of popping a pill, you can try different ways to improve your sleep quality and quantity. Here are tips to help you enjoy better sleep:

Manage Your Sleep: Stress wreaks havoc on different aspects of your life, including sleep. But learning how to manage your stress can help you have a happier and healthier life as well as make you more productive.

Get Routine Exercise: Workout is an excellent stress reliever. It eases sleep disorder symptoms and improves your mood. You can build your fitness level gradually by engaging in physical activities such as jogging, cycling, dancing, and walking your dog. Engaging in these activities can improve the quality and quantity of your sleep.

Establish a Regular Sleep Schedule: Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. This sleep pattern supports your biological clock. It would be best if you do this during the weekdays and weekends.

Eat a Healthy Diet: Drinking alcohol, caffeine, smoking, and eating sugary foods can disrupt your sleep. Similarly, having a heavy meal or drinking a lot of fluids a few minutes before bedtime can make it harder to fall asleep or cause you to wake up frequently at night. So, ensure you eat a balanced diet a couple of hours before bedtime.

Create a Comfortable Sleep Environment: Make your sleep environment comfortable by putting off lights, turning off the music, and switching off your electronics. This limits their blue light which decreases the feelings of sleepiness.

Seek Professional Help: Talk to your family doctor when you suspect you have chronic sleep deprivation. The doctor will identify and address the underlying issue disturbing your sleep.

Parting Shot

A persistent sleep problem can contribute to physical and mental health issues. Lack of sleep can cause daytime sleepiness and affect concentration, memory, energy, and moods.

So, make sure you speak to your primary care physician when you have sleep difficulties. This will help you avoid the risk of getting depression, anxiety, and other diseases. 

The tips highlighted above will also help improve the quality of your sleep. Try implementing them and watch how they impact your sleep pattern. 

By Richard Maxwell

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