Mental Health and its Relationship to Sleep

We all experience sleepless nights occasionally. But more often than not, we are able to fall back into normal sleeping patterns within the next day-or-so. But when an individual frequently has trouble sleeping or displays symptoms of insomnia, mental health problems could be on the horizon, or may already exist.

Sleep Problems Often Indicate an Underlying Condition

Sleep problems can be a two-way street. Those who suffer with mental health issues such as anxiety and depression typically have trouble sleeping. Conversely, prolonged periods of sleeplessness or partial sleep deprivation can eventually lead to the development of mood disorders and other psychological difficulties.

Insomnia sufferers were discovered to be up to five times more likely to develop depression, and up to 20 times more likely to develop panic disorder and other anxiety-related issues, according to an extensive “Sleep Journal” study. Additionally, young adults who are sleep-deprived due to stressful situations in their lives or irregularities in their sleep patterns are far more likely to eventually suffer from depression — sometimes in severe forms — and develop substance abuse problems.

Treating Sleep Disorders

In the absence of a more serious physical or mental ailment, those who have trouble sleeping can take steps to try to develop healthier habits. These include avoiding caffeine, adhering to a regular schedule of going to bed and waking up and refraining from napping during the day. But if these and other “self-help” measures do not adequately address the issue, a medical evaluation may be necessary.

If mental health problems are at the root of a sleep disorder, various forms of psychotherapy — often in conjunction with medications — have proven to be among the most successful modes of treatment. With sleep playing such a vital role in our physical, mental and emotional well-being, those who struggle to get the rest they need should not hesitate to seek help.



This blog is written and published by Lindner Center of HOPE.