“You’re putting energy in the bank when you go to sleep,” said Barry Krakow, M.D., medical director of Maimonides Sleep Arts and Sciences Ltd. in Albuquerque, N.M., and author of Sound Sleep, Sound Mind: 7 Keys to Sleeping through the Night.
Krakow said, “On a cellular level, the body is literally repairing and restoring itself. Without it, you can’t do what you want — physically or mentally.” Until the 1950s, people were of the view that sleep is nothing beyond a regular day-to-day affair which is mostly passive and dormant. But sleep affects our daily activities more than we can imagine and it has a profound effect on our mental and physical health.
Regular sleep problems can aggravate psychiatric disorders. Acute sleeplessness is common in the United States, and according to experts, those suffering from mental disorders are more likely to experience problems with sleep. According to the website of the Harvard Health Publications, chronic sleep problems affect 50-80 percent patients of a mental health problem, in comparison with 10-18 percent adults in the general American population.
On the basis of neuro-imaging, researches have suggested that chronic sleep disruptions can bring in negative thoughts in a person, while a sound sleep can foster both mental and emotional resilience. Sleep problems are more prevalent in individuals with psychiatric disorders such as anxiety, depression or bipolar disorder. Treating sleep problems can actually lower symptoms of mental disorders.
During a normal sleep, a person juggles between two major categories every 90 minutes – “quiet” and “REM (rapid eye movement)” sleep. During a quiet sleep, a person’s body temperature drops, muscles relax, heart rates and breathing become slow, which help boost the immune system. REM, on the other hand, is the state where people dream and all the physiological signs increase as if a person is awake. This contributes to learning and memory and also to emotional health.
However, sleep disruptions can create an adverse effect on body and mind. It affects the neurotransmitters in the brain and stress hormones which result in impaired thinking and emotional dysfunction.
The newsletter of Harvard Health Publications available on its website states that there are more than 70 types of sleep disorders. The most common of all is insomnia. People suffering from mental disorders can have varying modes of sleep. In fact, mental disorders can also give rise to sleep disorders and vice versa. Some of the disorders associated with sleep problems are:
Depression: Various studies have found a relationship between depression and sleep disorders. Around 65 to 90 percent of adult depressed patients, and about 90 percent of depressed children experience some kind of sleep problems like insomnia. About one in five suffers from obstructive sleep apnea or sleep-disordered breathing that causes multiple awakenings during sleep.
Depressed people who suffer from insomnia are less likely to respond to treatments and most likely to commit suicides.
Anxiety disorders: It has come to light that 50 percent of patients suffering from anxiety disorders such as general anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, panic disorder, OCD and phobias have sleep problems. Insomnia can actually aggravate anxiety disorders and prevent recovery.
A sleep laboratory study found that youngsters with an anxiety disorder took longer to fall asleep and slept less deeply when compared with a controlled group of healthy children.
Bipolar disorder: Some 69 to 99 percent people experiencing maniac episodes have sleep disorders too. Several studies, however, report that 23 to 78 percent of bipolar patients sleep excessively (hypersomnia), while others may experience insomnia or restless sleep.
The sleep problems start worsening before maniac episodes which can aggravate the symptoms of the disorder. It adversely affects an individual’s mood and plays a key role in relapse.
Eight hours of sleep is extremely vital to an individual’s healthy growth and development of the body and mind. Limiting substance abuse and going for regular exercise can help an individual get better sleep, while meditation, good nutrition and self-discipline can help in relaxation.
Various studies on sleep are striving to find new and effective therapies for sleep disorders and their effect on mental health. If you or your loved one is having sleep disruptions night after night, you need to consult a specialist immediately. Your sleep deficiency can be the cause of a mental disorder or vice versa. Log on to the Colorado Mental Health Helpline or call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-899-5063 to get connected with effective treatment programs for recovery.