Sleep And Mental Health

Restful sleep and mental health are closely linked; sleeping well on a regular basis is necessary for mental well-being while difficulty sleeping can increase a person’s risk to developing mental health issues and aggravate issues that already exist.

Americans are particularly sleep deprived.  Our lifestyles, work schedules and obsessions with digital devices all play a role in reducing our quality of sleep. Adults need 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. However, the average American sleeps just 6.8 hours nightly, and 40% sleep less than six hours. Furthermore, 10% to 18% of U.S adults experience some sort of chronic sleep disorder. That number jumps to between 50% and 80% among patients undergoing psychiatric treatment.

Psychological Disorders and Sleeping Difficulties

The relationship between sleep and mental health isn’t fully understood. However, studies indicate that regularly getting a good night’s sleep promotes mental well-being. Conversely, nightly bouts of disrupted sleep can bring on negative thoughts and emotional instability. Problems falling and staying asleep are especially prevalent with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorders, sleep disorders and ADHD.

The Effects of Disorders on Sleep and Mental Health

There are currently more than 100 documented sleep disorders. The most common are:
•sleep apnea
•nighttime restlessness

Here are several types of common mental health issues correlated to the lack of high-quality sleep:

Depression is a mental condition that has a negative effect on moods, thoughts and actions. About 90% of patients with depression have issues with their quality of sleep. Difficulties falling and staying asleep appear to similarly increase the chances of developing depression. Furthermore, people with a history of insomnia were four times more likely to suffer from severe depression.

Bipolar Disorder causes extreme shifts in mood, energy levels and the capacity to carry out everyday tasks. Studies indicate that between 69% and 99% of people with bipolar disorder also suffer from insomnia. The lack of sleep can bring on mania, mood swings and worsening of bipolar disorder symptoms. During episodes of bipolar disorder depression, sufferers may sleep for extended periods or nap frequently throughout the day.

Anxiety Disorders cause problems sleeping in more than 50% of adults who suffer from the condition. Having anxiety is common in people with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), obsessive-compulsive disorder and various phobias. Insomnia appears to be associated with anxiety disorders. They can also affect children, causing them to take longer to fall asleep. Once they do, these children tend to sleep less deeply and restfully.

ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) is a neurological condition that interferes with your ability to concentrate and control your emotions. Having ADHD also disrupts your decision-making and ability to behave rationally. Other symptoms include trouble falling and staying asleep. People with ADHD may also have involuntary nighttime movements, such as restless leg syndrome, that can wake them up. As many as 11% of U.S. children and about 4% of U.S. adults suffer from the disorder.

If you have PLMD, you may experience jerking, cramping, or twitching of your lower limbs while you sleep. Even if you don’t wake up during an episode, these movements will disrupt your sleep cycle. People who have PLMD suffer from daytime sleepiness and fatigue. PLMD affects 4% to 11% of the population.

Here’s a sleep disorder with the opposite effect of PLMD: sleep paralysis. Sleep paralysis occurs when you temporary lose muscle control after falling asleep or just before waking up. During a sleep paralysis episode, you become aware that you cannot move your body. Sleep paralysis episodes are often accompanied by scary hallucinations where there is often a feeling that a dangerous person is nearby, or that you are suffocating.

While sleep paralysis is considered extreme, it’s totally normal for your arms and legs to be temporarily paralyzed during REM sleep to prevent you from physically acting out your dreams. However, if you suffer from REM sleep behavior disorder, temporary paralysis does not occur. Instead, you kick, punch, flail your arms, or even jump out of bed. These outbursts are usually the result of acting out unpleasant dreams.

We all have fears. Unfortunately, some people fear the thing most of us love: sleep! Somniphobia causes extreme dread about sleep. In many cases, somniphobia isn’t being afraid of sleep, but what happens while you sleep.

Sometimes called the “Sleeping Beauty” syndrome, Kleine-Levin Syndrome (KLS) is a complex neurological disorder causes periods of excessive sleep. KLS starts with becoming increasingly drowsy and sleeping for most of the day and night. Unfortunately, there is no cure for this rare disorder. However, stimulants usually help combat the sleepiness of KLS.

How to Get Better Quality Sleep

Lifestyle changes are often the first step to improving your quality of sleep. Here are a few you can start incorporating now:

Get more iron in your diet. Recent research has identified a link between iron-deficiency anemia and chronic poor sleep. Iron deficiency is more common than you may think - an estimated 3% of adult males, 20% of adult females and 50% of pregnant women in developed countries have iron deficiency anemia.

Cut back on caffeine. One study that examined the effects of caffeine intake on sleep found that caffeine consumed six hours before bedtime could reduce sleep time by one hour. To get a full night of rest, skip that afternoon soda or energy drink and grab a bottle of water instead.

Exercise daily. Want to improve your sleep and overall health? Get moving! Countless studies have found that exercise is great for your physical and mental health, and it can make a big difference in your quality of sleep.

Practice stress management techniques. Studies have shown that meditation and deep breathing exercises can help the body and mind relax. If you’re feeling too anxious to sleep, these approaches can help reduce stress so you can fall asleep faster. 

Limit screen time before bed. Researchhas found a correlation between exposure to blue light from TVs, computers and phone screens and suppressed levels of melatonin, a hormone responsible for controlling your sleep-wake cycle.

Try digital sleep trackers. These devices can help you identify sleep disorders. If you think you have a sleep disorder or are struggling with mental health, be sure to speak with your doctor to see what can be done to alleviate symptoms.

Consider investing in your quality of sleep. Of course, a comfortable bed can also help you get a good night’s sleep. At Sit ’n Sleep, we have a huge selection of bed sheetspillows and mattresses. Speak to one of our Sleep Consultants to find a high-quality mattress that’s best for you.