Good quality sleep is frequently underrated – mainly because we don’t understand the enormous impact poor sleep has on us.
Sleep is essential to maintain physical and mental well-being throughout your life. What occurs when you are asleep influences how you feel when you are awake.
Over time, insufficient sleep can increase your chance of developing chronic health issues. Additionally, it may impact how well you reason, work, learn and interact with others.
Quality sleep is crucial for physical and mental well-being. Getting enough sleep has increased problem-solving abilities and memory function in children and adults.
An adequate amount of high-quality sleep is also necessary for comprehension, concentration and productivity. Research shows that consistently good sleep improves academic performance in children, adolescents and young adults.
But that is not all. A good night’s sleep helps build mental and emotional resilience.
Chronically sleep-deprived individuals tend to withdraw and become lonely. Making sleep a priority might help you become more outgoing and improve your interactions with others.
Poor sleeping habits can make us prone to fatigue, weight gain, a weakened immune system and mood disorders.
Central Nervous System. Your body’s primary information highway is your central nervous system. It needs to sleep to keep working correctly. While you sleep, your brain creates pathways that aid in memorizing new knowledge. Poor quality sleep disrupts how your brain retains and processes information.
A lack of sleep can affect the brain in other ways, too. This includes anxiety, impulsive behavior, depression, and even suicidal thoughts. If you are deprived of sleep for an extended time, you may experience hallucinations. For people who have bipolar disorder, a lack of sleep can trigger mania.
Immune System – During sleep, your immune system releases proteins called cytokines, the substances responsible for fighting bacterial and viral infections. Sleep deprivation results in decreased production of cytokines and a decrease in antibodies, which means you are more prone to illness when you do not get quality sleep.
Digestive System – Sleep deprivation is a risk factor for weight gain and obesity. Leptin and Ghrelin, the two hormones that regulate appetite, are affected by sleep. When sleep-deprived, leptin, the appetite suppressant, switches off, and the hunger hormone ghrelin goes into overdrive, increasing your appetite.
Cardiovascular System – High blood pressure is a significant risk factor for heart disease. Sleep regulates the stress hormone cortisol. When people are sleep deprived, stress-related hormones are not well regulated, which can lead to raised blood pressure.
Many factors can contribute to poor sleep. For example,
Stress may include:
- Financial worries.
- Concerns about school exams or meeting work deadlines.
- A stressful life event like a divorce or the death of a loved one.
An erratic work schedule can cause poor sleep or disrupt your circadian rhythm. People who travel through different time zones or do shift work are often affected.
Irregular bedtimes, napping during the day, or an uncomfortable sleep environment cause poor sleep habits. Habits like watching TV or playing video games, or engaging in other screen time right before bed, may also contribute to disrupted or poor-quality sleep.
Eating a large meal before bed. Going to bed with an overfull stomach may cause physical discomfort when lying down. Some people experience heartburn (acid reflux), which keeps them awake.
Mental Health. Sleep quality and mental health are closely related. Sleep quality can be impacted by having a mental health condition, and poor sleep can affect your mental health.
If you experience the following, it may be a good idea to reach out for mental health support.
- Feel too tired or have too little energy to see people.
- Feel lonely or isolated.
- Struggle to concentrate or make decisions.
- Feel irritable for no reason.
- Feel paranoid.
- Have problems managing day-to-day life.
- Experience feelings of anxiety, depression or suicidal thoughts.
Adopting healthy habits can help train your internal clock and give your body the right cues for good quality sleep. These include:
- Keeping a routine of going to bed at the same time each night and waking at the same time each morning.
- Getting bright light exposure shortly after waking up.
- Refraining from caffeine and alcohol late in the afternoon.
- Avoid large meals at night and stick to a healthy diet.
- Limiting naps, especially late in the day
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco in the evening.
- Turn off electronic devices at least one hour before bed.
- Keep the bedroom cool, dark, and quiet.
Good quality sleep is a significant factor in mental health. Perhaps you feel that your mental health is compromised by insufficient sleep, or you cannot sleep because of poor mental health. In that case, it’s crucial to know that you can reach out for support and be treated with dignity and respect.
If you are struggling with mental health, you must know that you are not alone. Asking for help is the first step in the right direction.