Skip to main content

SLEEP AND MENTAL DISORDERS

In the past, mental health practitioners were quick to believe that psychiatric disorders caused chronic sleep problems. These days, doctors are starting to believe that many psychiatric disorders are either made worse by chronic sleep problems or, in some cases, even caused by the sleep disorder.

Given our industrious work ethic, approximately 10% of Americans suffer from some form of chronic sleep disorder such as insomnia or sleep deprivation. Chronic sleep problems can lead to mental health problems. In the past, mental health practitioners were quick to believe that psychiatric disorders caused chronic sleep problems. These days, doctors are starting to believe that many psychiatric disorders are either made worse by chronic sleep problems or, in some cases, even caused by the sleep disorder.

Here's a list of common mental disorders and their relationships with sleep:

Depression

People with clinical depression have a very high incidence of sleep disorders. Studies estimate that 65% to 90% of adults with depression have experienced some type of sleep disorder, most commonly insomnia with about one in five suffering from obstructive sleep apnea. Conversely, sleep problems also increase the incidences of major depression. One study showed that people with insomnia have a four-fold chance of developing depression than those without the sleep disorder. Presence of insomnia can also affect the health outcomes of those with depression. Depressed patients with insomnia are less likely to respond to treatment and are more likely to think about suicide and die by suicide than depressed patients who sleep normally.

Bipolar Disorder

Studies have shown that over 69% of people with bipolar disorder experience some form of insomnia or a decreased need for sleep during their manic episodes. Studies also show that a lack of sleep can work to trigger manic periods. Conversely, a high percentage of bipolar sufferers sleep excessively (hypersomnia) during a bipolar depressive stage.

ADHD

Due to the hyperactivity associated with the mental condition, it is hard to separate sleep disorder symptoms from that of the general ADHD condition. But, children with ADHS are known to frequently experience restless leg syndrome, sleep-disordered breathing and insomnia.

Treatment

For people with mental health disorders that experience difficulty sleeping, the first step they should take is to improve their overall sleep hygiene. Making sure they have a suitable bed, dark enough room, a steady sleep schedule and refrain from substances that can negatively affect their sleep such as nicotine, caffeine or alcohol. People with sleep disorders should also get plenty of exercise. Exercise promotes quality, restorative sleep. Finally, medication can be prescribed to help people sleep through the night. Sleep medications should be taken with careful adherence to doctor's orders because many can be habit forming.

Read more:

Get additional information about mite-resistant latex mattresses.

Source:

Harvard Mental Health Letter