Does My Sleep Health Matter? How Your Sleep & Mental Health Are Connected

Does My Sleep Health Matter? How Your Sleep & Mental Health Are Connected

A 2021 study estimated that more than one in five adults in the United States deals with a mental illness. Is there a link between poor sleep and the prevalence of mental health conditions, or is it the other way around? In today’s blog, we’ve teamed up with Dr. Chris Allen—a Board-Certified Sleep Medicine Physician, Pediatric Neurologist, and Aeroflow Sleep Science Advisor—to explore the effects of sleep on your mental health. So, strap in; there are a lot of studies and research here!

IN THIS ARTICLE:

Can Sleep Deprivation Make You More Emotional?

How Is Your Sleep Health Linked To Your Mental Health?

Does Improving Sleep Quality Benefit Anxiety & Depression?

How Much Sleep Is Needed For Mental Health?

When Do Mental Health Problems Point To A Sleep Disorder?

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Can Sleep Deprivation Make You More Emotional?

A lack of sleep can absolutely have negative impacts on your overall emotional well-being; just like sleeping well will allow you to live better. According to the National Sleep Foundation, “Good quality sleep can help you better regulate your emotions and improve your cognitive skills.” This is because our bodies and brains go through a restorative process that not only repairs the body’s cells when we sleep, but also helps us process our emotions and create memories.

Conversely, poor sleep quality often makes it harder to regulate emotions. After a night of poor sleep, you may feel more irritable or find it difficult to cope with daily stressors. Dr. Allen shares, “There’s a high percentage of patients that have mental disorders; such as depression and anxiety.” This makes sense, as regular sleep problems often coincide with depressive symptoms and other mental health disorders.

How Is Your Sleep Health Linked To Your Mental Health?

“Quality sleep definitely plays a role with mental health,” Dr. Allen affirms. In fact, many mental health issues can lead to sleep difficulties. For example, individuals with an anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, or ADHD may struggle to go to sleep, stay asleep, and/or experience daytime sleepiness.

Meanwhile, individuals who have bipolar disorder may experience irregular sleep patterns, and individuals with schizophrenia may suffer from circadian rhythm disorders or chronic insomnia. The bottom line is that psychiatric disorders can lead to a number of sleep disturbances.

Interventions like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help manage mental health disorders. Additionally, the Mayo Clinic reveals how CBT can benefit an individual’s sleep health. After all, some of the aforementioned symptoms—daytime sleepiness, irregular sleep patterns, and insomnia—can even point to obstructive sleep apnea (OSA.)

Does Improving Sleep Quality Benefit Anxiety & Depression?

As we discussed earlier, poor sleep quality can lead to an increase in anxiety and depression levels, and it works the other way too. Improvements in sleep quality have a positive impact on mental health overall. In a more recent study, researchers detail how enhancing sleep quality leads to a decrease in anxiety and depression levels, proving that a good night’s sleep really is beneficial!

The same is true for individuals diagnosed with sleep disorders. Yet another study found that patients with OSA often see reduced anxiety and depression symptoms once they’ve received treatment in the form of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). Yes, effectively treating a sleep disorder leads to better sleep quality, and in turn, leads to better mental health; go figure!

How Much Sleep Is Needed For Your Mental Health?

You can start improving your sleep quality by getting enough sleep for your mental health, which The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) recommends that the average adult sleep 7 or more hours per night on a regular basis. While the amount of sleep your body needs can vary person to person, it’s important for both your mental and physical health that you get enough sleep, but one in three adults is not getting the recommended 7 hours.

Sleeping less than 7 hours is associated with negative health outcomes; such as depression, stroke, heart disease, obesity, and impaired immune function. Because sleeping less than 7 hours can negatively impact both your brain and body, you should aim for at least 7 hours of sleep per night regardless of age, assigned sex at birth, and health conditions.

When Do Mental Health Problems Point To A Sleep Disorder?

Sleep disorders can exacerbate mental health problems. If you are experiencing challenges with your mental health and/or getting good quality sleep, reach out to your healthcare provider as soon as possible. This should also become a priority if any of the earlier symptoms of sleep apnea are currently affecting your day-to-day life.

Perhaps you’ve already been diagnosed with sleep apnea? Aeroflow Sleep can help you get the PAP supplies you need, covered up to 100% through insurance. Take 5 to 7 minutes to fill out our qualification form, so we can check your eligibility for the perfect treatment! It might even be exactly what you need to rid yourself of mental health problems.


About the Author

Emily Callahan is a former educator turned marketing professional who is passionate about helping others. She is a skilled content writer, and she enjoys making complex information easier to understand. She is interested in using tools like writing and social media to not only educate, but to also help others feel and live better too. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her friends and family, being outside, and reading.

Information provided in blogs should not be used as a substitute for medical care or consultation.



References

​​“Mental Illness.” National Institute of Mental Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/mental-illness. Accessed 3 May 2024.

“How Is Your Sleep Health Linked to Your Mental Health?” National Sleep Foundation, National Sleep Foundation, 8 Mar. 2023, www.thensf.org/how-is-your-sleep-health-linked-to-your-mental-health/

“Insomnia Treatment: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Instead of Sleeping Pills.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 5 Apr. 2023, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/insomnia/in-depth/insomnia-treatment/art-20046677#:~:text=CBT%20can%20benefit%20nearly%20anyone,CBT%20has%20harmful%20side%20effects.

Wang, Yingting et al. “Effect of Sleep Quality on Anxiety and Depression Symptoms among College Students in China's Xizang Region: The Mediating Effect of Cognitive Emotion Regulation.” Behavioral sciences (Basel, Switzerland) vol. 13,10 861. 20 Oct. 2023, doi:10.3390/bs13100861

Lee, Ming-Chung et al. “Effects of continuous positive airway pressure on anxiety, depression, and major cardiac and cerebro-vascular events in obstructive sleep apnea patients with and without coronary artery disease.” Ci ji yi xue za zhi = Tzu-chi medical journal vol. 29,4 (2017): 218-222. doi:10.4103/tcmj.tcmj_128_17

Watson, Nathaniel F et al. “Recommended Amount of Sleep for a Healthy Adult: A Joint Consensus Statement of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research Society.” Sleep vol. 38,6 843-4. 1 Jun. 2015, doi:10.5665/sleep.4716


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