Sleep & Mental Health

Sleeping is not as simple as just resting. We need to sleep to recover both physically and mentally. Read on to find out how sleep and mental health are interconnected.
Sleep and mental health have a close relationship. For starters, sleep has a direct effect on our cognitive capacity. A good quality sleep every night is necessary for our emotional health as well.
Recurring sleep issues are a clear sign of declining mental health. Let’s understand why sleep affects our mental health so strongly:
  • Sleep allows immune cells to do maintenance work on the brain: Our immune cells are most active during sleep and they help the body recover from the day’s activity by repairing muscles and tissues in the brain.
  • Sleep regulates memory: REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep allows the brain to consolidate newly formed memories and flush out neural trash (useless information), optimizing our memory and recall capabilities for the next day.
  • Sleep bolsters mental & emotional resilience: Neurochemistry studies suggest that a good night’s sleep helps foster both mental and emotional resilience, while chronic sleep deprivation sets the stage for negative thinking and emotional vulnerability.
Studies show that undisturbed sleep promotes healthy production of hypocretin (brain hormone that controls wakefulness). Dysfunction in hypocretin production can lead to Narcolepsy. Hypocretin also controls the formation of plaque in our arteries. Not only does this safeguard us from cardiovascular diseases, but it also ensures that the blood reaching the brain is oxygen and nutrient-rich.
Lack of sleep reduces our logical reasoning, comprehension, and decision-making skills. Emotional consequences include anxiety, irritability, and random emotional outbursts. The interdependency of sleep problems and various psychological issues is very high and these often feed off of each other. Prolonged sleep deprivation causes some of the most common psychological disorders like depression, insomnia, narcolepsy, anxiety disorders etc.
Quality sleep is a key factor in maintaining our physical and mental health
To learn how to build healthy sleep habits and improve sleep quality, read here. Further blogs in this series will address psychological disorders caused by sleep deprivation and how to address them.
The stigma of mental illness is slowly disappearing in India as more and more of us are shifting our focus internally on our mental health. Being able to talk about how we feel is the first step to tackling mental health issues.