You know sleep is important for your mood. Heck, you’ve felt it. You sleep badly for a few nights and suddenly, everything feels harder. Maybe you’re irritable or you feel like you could cry at the drop of a hat. Clearly, sleep has an impact on your mental state.
Even a handful of sleepless nights can have some seriously bad effects on your brain. The good news? The flip side is true. Quality sleep can be a huge help in how you feel.
To convince you to get the rest your brain and body need, we dug into the science of sleep.
This is your brain on sleep
The Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School sums it up for us, saying, “Sleep and mood are closely connected.” Even one week of bad sleep can make you more likely to be:
- Mentally exhausted
Why is sleep deprivation so hard on us? It turns out, our brain is doing a lot more than resting while we’re snoozing. The brain uses sleep as an opportunity to let neurons communicate, remove toxins, develop new neural pathways, and maintain the ones you already have. That means sleep matters for your mood and memory. And when you’re not getting enough of it, your brain can’t function its best.
If you haven’t been feeling great lately, check in with your sleep. Adults between the ages of 18 and 60 generally need at least 7 hours of sleep each night. If you’re outside of that age range, you need more hours.
Are you getting enough? If not, your brain could be paying the price. Beyond mood challenges, sleep deprivation can escalate to mental illness.
Sleep and mental illness
When it comes to mental illness treatment and prevention, sleep is huge. Studies show you’re more likely to develop all of the following conditions if you’re not getting good sleep:
- Anxiety disorders
- Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Eating disorders
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Bad sleep can also worsen symptoms for people with all of the conditions we just listed and people with bipolar disorder.
Long story short, low-quality sleep can heighten your risk for mental illness. And if you’re already living with a mental health condition, it can make your symptoms worse.
What to do if you can’t sleep
For some people, getting enough sleep is a whole lot easier said than done. If you’re someone who struggles with sleep, we see you. For our next Mental Health Monday blog, we’re going to be giving you tips and techniques to improve your sleep quality. If you’re ready to fall asleep faster, stay asleep, and wake up feeling refreshed, check the blog page a week from today.
And if you need a little motivation to start going to bed earlier, we have a challenge. Try hitting your ideal bedtime for a week. When you make it for seven days in a row, reward yourself with some delicious Doughp. Knowing you have a tasty treat waiting could be the push you need to get under the covers on time.