How Sleep Impacts Mental Health

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, mental illness is a pervasive issue in the United States. It impacts as many as 43.8 million adults every year. That’s one in five adults in the country, roughly 18.5% of the population. If you take friends and family of the afflicted into account, the number of people impacted by mental health issues in some way is far greater than that.

Is there anything that can be done to protect yourself from being susceptible to these issues?

Getting enough sleep can be a constant struggle for many, but, it’s vital to your health. Sleep deprivation plays a big role in many mental disorders. It also has the potential to significantly impact your mood and emotions. In order to make rest a priority, you’d need to understand the connection between sleep and mental health.

It Regulates Hormones

Your body uses the time you are asleep to help regulate its processes, which includes the production of various hormones. Restless nights can have a negative impact on this process in general, which means that all of the roughly 50 various hormones your body produces could be impacted.

One of these hormones, cortisol, is consistently elevated when you don’t get enough rest. Cortisol is sometimes called the “stress” hormone, and high levels of the hormone can result in you feeling tenser and more stressed during the day. And yes, this can make it even harder to fall asleep at night.

Chronic stress like this isn’t great for you mentally or emotionally, so it’s important to get enough rest to help balance the levels of this hormone out as much as possible.

It Affects Your Moods and Emotions

When you don’t get enough sleep, you become much more irritable and short-tempered. This is true for even a single night of interrupted or insufficient sleep. The consequences for consistently failing to get an adequate amount of sleep can be catastrophic to your health and overall happiness. Even turning the most optimistic individuals into walking balls of stress and irritation.

You’re also more susceptible to experiencing depression and anxiety. Getting a restful night’s sleep can help restore your emotions back to their former states.

It Affects Your Ability to Process Memories

People who frequently take naps better retain memories, while those of us not getting enough sleep quickly sense an impaired ability to do so.

That means that your memory will seem “worse” and you might have a harder time keeping track of things. This happens because the synapses in your brain that communicate to keep your mind working well become less effective as your sleep debt builds. You might also find that your short-term and long-term memory are both impacted if you consistently get much less sleep than recommended.

To summarize, sleep directly impacts your mental health and should be prioritized. If you’re finding it difficult to fall asleep, reach out to a professional for help.