November 23, 2017

The Mental Effects of Poor Sleep

Image credit: GhScientific

“I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” – Warren Zevon

 

Whether you have heard this quote or not, the truth is, the way some of us live, work, and play, these words sum up the ideology of many adults. When you have a full time job, full load of classes, children to raise, a home to take care of, and a social life to maintain, sometimes it seems like there is never enough time to get the sleep you need. Or, you may be lacking in sleep because you can’t seem to stay asleep.

You toss and turn and your back or neck is in so much pain that falling asleep is out of the question. This type of problem could be a bad mattress and there are many different types of mattresses available to consumers today. You can read this buyers guide to help you choose. It isn’t difficult to find one that meets your individual needs as soon as you figure out what those needs are.

Sore backs, necks, legs, shoulders, and so many other physical ailments can be directly attributed to a bad bed and insufficient sleep. Yet, there is so much more of yourself that is affected and sacrificed by this terrible box of springs you have been lying awake upon when you should be fast asleep, and the mental ramifications are just as serious as any physical results. Institutions all over the world, including the University of Ghana, pay special attention to neuroscientific health.

 

Slow Brain

Your brain needs sleep just as any other organ in your body. In fact, your brain can trump a great deal of other organs because, if your brain isn’t working well, then neither will the rest of your body. A well rested brain will work much harder than a brain that is suffering from a lack of sleep. Studies have shown that “sleep deprivation leads to lower alertness and concentration.”

Think of all the things you have to do in a day that require your full attention, from driving your car to possibly using a stove or oven to cook a meal. These tasks require alertness for full safety, which is compromised when your brain is lacking the slumber it needs.

When you lack attention and concentration the risk for mistakes and accidents rise. You may make an ill decision simply because the “logical reasoning or complex thought” required to think things through simply isn’t available due to your restless night.

 

Do You Remember?

Memory is very important when living your day to day life. We need to remember where we put our car keys, when to pick our children up from school, and when to take our medications. Without our memory, we would just be wandering around trying to figure out so many things we would probably start circling the room like a hamster in a wheel.

Between your short-term memory, which is the part of your brain that retains information like a recent conversation or what you came into a room to do, and your long-term memory, which is responsible for storing information you will need in the future, like your phone number and lessons your father taught you, our memory is an insanely important tool.

While a lack of sleep won’t necessarily erase the long-term memories you already have it can definitely put a road block up for memories that need to be stored. For example, maybe you are in college and one of your advanced classes is more difficult than anything you have experienced, the information needed to pass the final exam will be less likely to stick in your long term memory if you are moving around all night and not resting as you should.

 

No Sleep Will Leave You Depressed

Depression has become more prevalent in our social discourse when it comes to individual health. They estimate that “65% to 90% of adult patients” suffer from the disorder. Not only is the lack of sleep having an effect on your mental state, what about your children? Studies also show that “90% of children” diagnosed with depression also suffer from issues with their sleeping patterns.

Many people who suffer from depression report insomnia to their psychological professionals and one-fifth of them have a good chance of developing sleep apnea, which is a disruption in sleep due to shallow breaths. This issue was highlighted during World Mental Health Day.

 

No Sleep Will Leave You Anxious

It is quite common for people who suffer from depression to also suffer from anxiety. The two mental disorders feed off each other like a couple of codependent friends who are unable to escape their vicious loop of despair. More than half of adults who have been diagnosed with some type of anxiety disorder including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder, and panic disorder, also report to having some type of issue with sleeping.

Children are not immune to the link between anxiety and poor sleep either. Another research study found that younger folks with anxiety issues were not able to achieve the deep sleep needed or they had a harder time falling asleep in the first place. And, while insomnia is more likely to cause depression, it can also amplify the symptoms of anxiety issues.

 

Pay Attention!

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is another mental ordeal that can be seriously affected by poor sleep. Studies have shown that anywhere from 25% to 50% of kids with this affliction have a hard time falling asleep or do not stay asleep through the night. Lack of or poor sleep may not have a cause-effect relationship with ADHD, yet the two combined will find a child with this difficult disease showing exaggerated symptoms as well, including inattention and hyperactivity.

 

You and Your Family Will Benefit from Good Sleep

When sleeping, an individual experiences two types of sleep; “quiet” sleep and REM, or rapid eye movement. The first is when your body temperature reduces, your muscles unwind, and your breath and heart beat becomes slower. This is when REM begins and we dream. The latter stage is reported to help us remember, learn, and remain emotionally healthy.

When these important stages of rest are disrupted, your thought process and overall cognitive health can deteriorate.