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How Sleep Affects Mental Health

Do you want to learn more about the connection between sleep and mental health? Can a lack of sleep mentally exhaust you? Discover answers to these questions and much more in this article.

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For centuries people have been neglecting mental health. Moreover, for centuries people have neglected the importance of sleep.

You can probably recall just how much you ignore your sleep in your 20’s and just how much more important it was for you to party all night, or have a long weekend full of activities, rather than sleeping.

Now, you are probably older, and you are more well-aware of just how important your sleep actually is.

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Still, millions of Americans suffer from insomnia and anxiety. Did you know that around 33% of the global population is affected by insomnia?

Or that even people without chronic insomnia often struggle with sleep problems.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a third of adults in the U.S. report that they get less than the recommended amount of sleep each night.

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Because of this, it’s essential to understand the harmful effects that lack of sleep may have on health, including well-being and mental health.

How Sleep Affects Mental Health

It’s no secret that sleep plays an important role when it comes to good mental and physical health.

Of course, you don’t have to work out for hours before you go to sleep, because you will disturb your body and sleep cycle, but you should do your best to have proper sleeping habits. Sleep deprivation can lead to numerous problems.

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Not only that, sleep deprivation can lead to exhaustion in the short-term, but it can have serious long-term health consequences as well.

Did you know that lack of sleep is linked to a number of undesirable health consequences such as depression, type 2 diabetes, and even heart disease?

The link between mental health and sleep is complex. It’s is known that sleep has been a consequence of many psychiatric conditions, but more recent researches showed that the link between sleep and mental health is even deeper.

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Sleep also plays a huge role in the development of various health problems and different mental problems.

In other words, sleep problems can lead directly to changes in mental health. Moreover, mental health conditions can make sleep problems worse.

Lack of sleep can trigger many psychological conditions, although it’s still relatively unknown how this can be done.

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One this is for sure: a relationship between sleep and mental state is circular. It’s essential to talk with your doctor if you have any difficulties falling asleep or staying asleep.


If you tend to spend your nights tossing and turning, you likely suffer from everyday worries accumulated in chronic stress.

If you tend to sleep so recklessly, you know how much these effects can be disruptive.

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Lack of sleep can lead to mood changes, and you may even experience irritability and anger.

If you can r deal with stress during the day, the chances are that you wake up moody the following morning, and every morning until you deal with your stress level.

Poor sleep can also make it challenging to deal with minor stress. Daily tasks can turn into major sources of frustration. Plus, poor sleep can be a huge source of stress.

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Insomnia and other sleep problems can lead to depression, or at least that is something that people believed in for years. However, the most recent research showed that lack of sleep is actually directly responsible for causing depression.

Treating insomnia is important and mandatory to improve your psychological health. Treating insomnia can lead to better sleep and vice versa.


The relationship between anxiety and sleep appears to go both directions, just like with many psychological conditions.

People with anxiety tend to experience significant sleep disturbance, which can lead to feelings of anxiety.

Easily, this can become a cycle that perpetuates both the sleep and anxiety issues. Plus, sleep problems can be a severe risk factor for developing anxiety disorders.

Those who struggle with sleep problems are more likely to develop anxiety, especially if their sleep habits are left untreated and prolonged.

Coping with a feeling of anxiety can be difficult when you are tired of chronic sleep disturbances. This is why poor sleep can worsen the symptoms of anxiety disorders.

It’s important to note that even otherwise healthy people can experience poor sleep’s negative mental health effects.

So, while you might not experience anxiety in general, your poor sleep may leave you agitated.

Bipolar Disorder

Sleep disturbances are very common among people with bipolar disorder. As a mental state, bipolar disorder is characterized by a changing period of depressed and elevated moods. Reduced sleep can cause symptoms of mania or hypomania.

Research suggests that changes in the normal sleep/wake cycle preceded the onset of a manic episode in 25% to 65% of participants.

If you have bipolar disorder, make sure that you talk with your doctor about any sleep issue that you might be experiencing.


Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common psychiatric condition, affecting people of all ages and sex. ADHD is common in children as well.

Around 5.3% of children between the ages of six and 17 years old are diagnosed with this ADHD.

In children, ADHD may provoke a number of sleep-related problems including:

  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Difficulty staying asleep
  • Difficulty walking
  • Night waking
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Sleep breathing issues

ADHD treatment begins with an assessment of current sleep habits. After that, patterns are explored in order to address underlying sleep problems.

Every condition comes with specific traits and needs. Although sleep and mental health are closely connected, they can affect your psychological state and mental health differently.

And one thing is for sure – those with mental health problems are more likely to experience some sleep disturbance, such as insomnia or any other sleep disorder.

Truth be told, Americans are notoriously sleep-deprived, but those with existing psychiatric conditions are more likely to be groggy or yawning during the day.

Sleep And Mental Health Lifestyle Changes

Treating a sleep-related problem is a complicated procedure, but it’s basically very simple when you master all areas.

To treat the sleep-related problem, you need to incorporate proper fundamental changes that involve lifestyle changes, behavioral strategies, medicine if needed, and psychotherapy.

1. Lifestyle Changes

Most people know that caffeine contributes to sleeplessness, and that alcohol and nicotine are harmful to their bodies, but they still use it. Alcohol depresses the nervous system, which helps some people fall asleep.

In most cases, once the effect wears off, they will wake up. Nicotine speeds heart rate and thinking, and as such, serves as a stimulant.

If you must smoke and have a nightcap avoid them before your bedtime. Think about quitting these substances because you will live longer, healthier, and happier.

2. Physical Activity

Regular physical activity is great for your entire body, and it makes your heart stronger. Still, it would help if you avoided heavy workout before bedtime.

Overall, physical activity will help you to spend more time in a deep sleep. Moreover, you will awaken less often during the night.

3. Sleep Hygiene

Sleep experts believe that people can learn how to sleep better, just like they learn to live with insomnia.

Sleep hygiene is a term often used to unite tips on how to maintain a regular sleep-and-wake schedule.

With that in mind, avoid heavy food, drinking, and nicotine before sleep. Avoid screening devices, and have a tea to help you sleep better. Keep your bedroom free of dilatation like a computer or television.

4. Relaxation Techniques

Meditation, deep breathing exercises, and even progressive muscle relaxation next to guided imagery are some of the commonly used relaxation techniques.

You can use them to lower tension and relax your muscles. These techniques are great to reduce anxiety and calm your thoughts.

5. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

People tend to be preoccupied with not falling asleep, that they can’t separate from negative expectations.

Cognitive-behavioral techniques should help from changing negative to positive expectations, and help build confidence.

These techniques can also help with dealing with personal problems that they may occur.

The Bottom Line

Do you often work longer at night? Do you spend a lot of time partying? Do you have young children who often keep you awake at night?

With work, family obligations, and various life commitments, many have difficulties in achieving the recommended hours of sleep.

It can be easy to dismiss sleep as not being important in maintaining a mentally healthy lifestyle – but are you missing something? Do you really know how important sleep is for you?

Sleep deprivation has a negative effect on emotion and performance. That’s why it’s important to have a good sleep routine and proper sleep hygiene. It’s always important to talk with your doctor and find the best way to help you sleep better.

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