Mental health has occupied a prominent place in debates, politics and conversations. However, many patients are left undiagnosed and in need of serious help. A multitude of factors contributes to the mental state of an individual, ranging from external pressures to battling internal struggles. Sleep and the lack of it is a common factor among all mental illnesses. Therefore, it is pertinent to look into how sleep affects the mental health of an individual and if corrected, the degree of relief it can provide.
Loss of sleep is a common symptom of stress and anxiety taking precedence in a person’s mental space. It is not only a symptom but also a contributing factor for more serious underlying conditions like depression, bipolar disorder, ADHD, schizophrenia and so on.
Depression and Sleep –75% to 90% of the adults and children suffering from depression have trouble sleeping well at night. They are plagued with insomnia where they have trouble falling or staying asleep. Many cases (1 in 5) also suffer from sleep apnea. Sleep deprivation is a significant contributing force to depression. Individuals who struggle to rest their minds during the night tend to wear it down even during treatment and eventually relapse. It was found that 69% of depressed individuals have suffered from sleep deprivation long before the onset of depression.
Anxiety and Panic Disorders– Sleep disorders have been an influencing factor for those suffering from PTSD, anxiety, social anxiety, panic attacks and obsessive-compulsive disorders as anxiety tends to keep their minds constantly vigilant. This hampers with the individual’s ability to put their mind at ease and go to sleep. It is also found that insomnia can worsen the extent of these disorders and also tamper with its treatment.
Bipolar Disorders – In cases of bipolar disorder, patients usually experience two extreme ends of the spectrum. While most patients discuss sleep deprivation and insomnia as symptoms, others suffer from hypersomnia which causes them to sleep excessively. One of the biggest signs before a manic episode is a loss of sleep.
In the same manner, all mental illnesses have a correlation of huge magnitudes with sleep disorders. Individuals who want to make conscious changes toward their sleep schedules can do so with various simple steps.
- Relaxing Sleep Rituals:If an individual has been suffering from lack of sleep symptoms, it can be beneficial to create a certain set of relaxing techniques and follow it every night to ensure good sleep. These rituals gradually create a sleep schedule that your body will begin to follow. Reading a good book or a warm shower before bedtime helps relax the mind to sleep better. A warm cup of chamomile, passionflower or lavender tea can be a great addition to your sleep ritual.
- Improved Sleep Hygiene: Many people don’t realize how certain foods, drinks and activity before bedtime can adversely affect their sleep patterns. Caffeinated drinks, sugary treats, snacks with high carbs and intense workouts at nights can keep your energy levels high. A series of sleepless nights can take a severe toll on your mental health.