Sleep and mental health have a strong connection that can turn into a perplexing and complex relationship when sleep deprivation and mental health problems occur simultaneously. It becomes hard to determine where one issue ends and the other begins. When you are facing health problems related to aging that are interfering with your sleep patterns, it’s important to take action to ensure you’re getting quality rest. It’s also crucial for the mental health of caregivers to do the same.
Let’s take a closer look at why sleep is important.
Why Is Sleep Important?
According to the National Institutes of Health sleep expert, Dr. Michael Twery, sleep affects “growth and stress hormones, our immune system, appetite, breathing, blood pressure and cardiovascular health.” Quality sleep is necessary for a healthy heart and respiratory system, strong immunity to illness, stable blood pressure, tissue growth and repair, and hormonal balance. But is it really that important to mental health?
Sleep and Mental Health
If you’re not getting enough sleep, every system of your body is working under par, causing exhaustion, low productivity, poor eating habits and higher stress levels. All of these issues can lead to emotional imbalance, poor concentration, anxiety and depression. When your mind has no time to rest and process the day’s stressors and events, its health declines. You become more susceptible to anxiety and depression too.
Older adults are at particular risk for sleep disorders and the mental health issues they cause. The same holds true for caregivers, who are often under higher levels of mental and physical stress. It can be easy to neglect your rest but doing so can lead to serious issues down the line.
Benefits of Sleep
Quality rest has a big impact upon your mind. Not only does it improve your mood, it also plays a big role in learning and memory functions. Getting enough sleep on a consistent basis can help you function well on many different levels, too, providing the “fuel” necessary to keep your mind running smoothly. More specifically, sleep helps ensure that your body is able to continue to regulate important bodily functions that impact your emotional stability and mental health. Hormone regulation, for example, has a big impact on your mind and your mood.
It’s also important to remember that a lack of sleep contributes to the aforementioned issues of depression and anxiety. Getting enough quality rest, then, can help fortify your mind against these issues. That doesn’t mean that sleep alone will prevent or cure them, of course, but your mind will be in a better state to function as intended when it has the chance to rest every night.
Although the relationship between sleep and mental health is complex, the takeaway is simple — lack of sleep negatively affects your mental health, which feeds the cycle of sleep problems. Practice self-care when it comes to your sleep routines. Your mental health is worth it.
Amanda Lasater is a team member and Sleep Expert at the MA Sleep Institute, an organization dedicated to helping people get their best sleep. We share a deep belief that quality, restorative sleep is vital to living a better life, but we also understand that good sleep doesn’t come easy to everyone. Through our extensive research studies and partnerships with medical experts, we are committed to educating others about the importance and benefits of prioritizing sleep.