According to BankmyCell’s statistics, around 83.72% of the world’s population owns a smartphone. With this in mind, let us ask you a question. How often do you have to charge your smartphone? Or any electronic device that you use daily.
The device will function optimally when the battery is fully charged. Without the battery supplying power, the device will be useless or perform at the lowest possible capacity. The relationship between sleep and humans is quite similar. Poor sleep quality affects an individual not just physically but also mentally, making them less productive.
We have already seen the effects of poor sleep on a body’s immune system, which affects your body’s ability to fight off infections. Now, we’ll focus on the impact of insomnia on your mental health. Before that, we’ll quickly discuss a few factors that are the known leading causes of sleep deprivation.
A] Leading Causes of Sleep deprivation:
The causes of sleep deprivation may vary for everyone. For some, it can be busy workdays. For others, it might mean a severe medical condition.
We’ll talk about a few of the leading sleep deprivation causes that are likely to be keeping you up at night:
1. Stress: One of the leading sleep deprivation factors, stress could be work-related, relationship-related, or financial worries. These worries constantly put stress on your entire body, including your mind.
2. Less than perfect Sleeping Environment: This can include the room temperatures, the room’s lighting, uncomfortable or lumpy mattress, noisy rooms, and many such factors.
3. Sleep Disorders: Generally, insomnia is one of the leading causes of lack of sleep. Most patients who are unable to fall asleep get diagnosed with insomnia.
4. Working in Shift or Irregular Sleeping hours: People who work rotating shifts (switch their work shifts continuously) have trouble getting enough sleep.
5. Medications: People who have just started new medications or have stopped taking medications on doctor’s orders can have a difficult time falling asleep.
Other major sleep deprivation causes are
➢being a full-time caretaker or parent,
➢consuming alcohol or other recreational drugs,
➢and other underlying health issues (mental and physical).
B] How Does Sleep Affect Our Mental Abilities:
Mental Health Disorders: Result of Poor Sleep Habits
Now that we have gained some insights into the causes of sleep deprivation, we’ll see how insufficient sleep can impact your mental health.
First, we’ll talk about Mental health disorders and underlying issues that you can tackle with help from your doctor. Studies have proven a bidirectional relationship between these mental health issues and sleep. It means that poor sleep worsens the symptoms of mental health disorders. Or your inability to fall asleep or oversleeping habits might signify underlying mental health problems.
There’s a strong correlation between depression and sleep deprivation. A study published on the NIH website suggests that 75% of depressed individuals also exhibit symptoms of insomnia. Oversleeping or Hypersomnia is another sleeping disorder found in about 40% of depressed adults.
Reduced sleep quality and depression mutually affect each other. Hypersomnia and Insomnia are both symptoms of depression. Healthcare professionals can prescribe sleeping aids that can help you get some sleep and therefore combat depression.
Seasonal Affective Disorder, a type of depression, is commonly seen in people affected by reduced daylight hours. It impacts a person’s internal clock (biological clock), leading to poor sleep or oversleeping issues.
2. Anxiety Disorders
Different types of anxiety disorders affect sleep in different ways. Panic disorder (panic attacks), social anxiety disorders, generalised anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, and phobias are the most common types of anxiety disorders.
These anxiety disorders often lead to racing thoughts and fear. These issues adversely affect your sleep and are the most common causes of insomnia. There’s a strong connection between PTSD and insomnia. People with PTSD are in a constant state of alert. They tend to replay negative events in their minds.
They also suffer from horrible nightmares, which interfere with sleep. Poor sleep habits can also activate anxiety disorders in people at higher risk of having them.
3. Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder is categorised by extreme moods. The extreme periods of mood are known as the manic period and the depressive period. Both of these extreme moods can negatively impact a person’s day to day life. The manic phase or period is associated with low sleep requirements. During the depressed periods, people with bipolar disorders tend to oversleep. extreme
People also experience sleep disruptions due to irregular sleep-wake cycles between the depressive and manic episodes, typically, before the onset of the next episode. A study suggests that sleep disturbances can worsen the severity of bipolar disorder episodes.
4. Other Mental Health Problems
i) Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD):
People with ADHD may have difficulty falling asleep and are likely prone to waking up frequently once they fall asleep. They can also suffer from daytime sleepiness. It is a common misconception that ADHD affects only children. Contrary to popular belief, it affects adults as well. Getting insufficient sleep can affect a person’s attention span and also cause behavioural issues.
People with Schizophrenia are more prone to sleep disorders such as circadian rhythm disorders and insomnia. The medication for treating schizophrenia might cause insomnia.
Children or adolescents who have Autism, a neurodevelopmental condition, also suffer from sleep problems such as insomnia.
Regular Issues Caused by Poor Sleep Quality:
So far, we have discussed the underlying mental health issues and how poor sleep quality may activate these health issues for people who are at higher risk of these mental health disorders. We’ll not focus on the Generic impacts of poor sleep on a person’s mental faculties.
5. Having trouble Concentrating
At least a few of you must have experienced this issue first-hand. Lack of sleep or oversleeping may affect your concentration, making it harder to be productive throughout the day.
Lack of sleep acts as a drain. It seeps out all the energy and takes away your ability to focus on tasks. On the other hand, oversleeping can make you lethargic. It can also similarly affect your concentration. Either way, you fall prey to procrastination, which eats your time with nothing left to show.
6. Short-Term and Long-Term Memory Impact
Being unable to remember even the littlest things can affect your day, especially for someone with anxiety or other mood disorders. Sleep deprivation can strongly affect a person’s ability to remember things, short term and long term. While the short term memory loss may not feel as severe a consequence, remember, it can also damage long term memories.
Chronic insomnia or poor sleeping schedule can have severe consequences and impact a person’s long term mental health. It can exacerbate underlying mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, or ADHD. Additionally, it can also affect your ability to perform menial chores by affecting your concentration and impacting memory. The ideal solution for this would be to get enough sleep.
People with sleep disorders should get in touch with their doctors. Others who have issues with their sleeping environment can do something about it, like fixing the lighting or getting a high-quality orthopaedic mattress.