You know that bad sleep affects your mood, but did you know it can also lead to depression and anxiety? What’s more, poor sleeping habits have been linked to heart disease, weight gain, high blood pressure, diabetes, and other long-term illnesses. These are just some of the reasons why getting a good night’s sleep is so important, but there are other less-known effects that can affect your mood.
Here are four ways that poor sleeping quality can affect your mental health and then talk about what you should do to ensure you are getting high-quality sleep every night.
The way we use technology in bed has changed the quality of our sleep. Today’s generation is exposed to blue light emitted from screens before they go to bed which tricks their brains into thinking it’s daytime. This makes them less sleepy at night so they stay up later surfing the web or playing games on their phone. The bright lights emitted from these devices stimulate the production of cortisol – a hormone associated with stress – making people feel anxious or agitated and unable of getting a good night’s sleep which can cause long-lasting physiological problems. Moreover, this activity has been linked to depression as well.
It is estimated that 40 million Americans suffer from stress or anxiety disorders, which are among the most common mental health conditions in the United States. Stress weakens the immune system and increases the risk of heart diseases and diabetes.
When we sleep, our brain produces specific hormones that help us feel good and happy. Melatonin and serotonin, the two main chemicals associated with mood, are released when we sleep. But studies have shown that those who sleep for less than six hours a night tend to release lesser quantities of serotonin and melatonin which can make them feel anxious or depressed as a result.
Even if you do not suffer from an anxiety disorder, having an emotional crisis may lead to poor sleeping habits such as taking a long time to fall asleep and waking up several times during the night. This interrupts our sleep cycle and leads us to feel tired throughout the day.
Sleeping pills are often prescribed by doctors to help people suffering from insomnia get their much-needed rest but they come with side effects that cause more harm than good in the long run.
Anxiety and depression aren’t the only problems that arise with poor sleeping habits. Insomnia can also develop as a result of irregular sleep patterns. A study conducted recently found that those who don’t get enough sleep regularly were more likely to experience anger, frustration, or even road rage than those who slept seven hours a night. People suffering from insomnia may find it difficult to fall asleep, wake up frequently during the night, or wake up too early in the morning. This can lead to difficulty concentrating, mood swings, forgetfulness, and an increased risk of heart disease or accidents in the workplace.
A study by sleep experts found that even one night of poor sleep can bring on these negative emotions for up to four days. The researchers believe it may be due to high levels of stress hormones shifting over into the daytime when you don’t get enough sleep which heightens your senses for between seven and 24 hours after waking up. So if you are feeling stressed, just remember that it might not actually be anything to do with your boss, but maybe because you didn’t get much rest last night.
The best way to avoid these negative feelings brought on by sleeping badly is by sticking to a regular sleeping pattern. If you go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day, your body will start to recognize this as an indicator that it’s time for bed and eventually associate this with something positive (such as a restful sleep). This way, you’ll be able to fall asleep quickly and set yourself on track for feeling great all year round.
It is important to maintain a healthy sleep routine as the opposite can lead to depression and anxiety. Insomnia also leads to anger, frustration, or even road rage if you don’t get enough sleep regularly. Studies have shown that those who suffer from insomnia may find it difficult to fall asleep, wake up frequently during the night, or wake up too early in the morning which can lead them to feel mood swings and forgetfulness. The best way of avoiding these negative feelings brought on by sleeping badly is by sticking with a regular sleeping pattern where you go to bed at the same time every day and wake up at the same time each morning. This will set your body into recognising this as an indicator that it’s time for bed so you’ll be able to fall asleep quickly and set yourself on track for feeling great all the time.
Adam Mulligan did his degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. He is interested in mental health and well-being.