Sleep is a crucial part of your overall health and well-being. In fact, sleep is so important that just minor deprivation can lead to serious health consequences. But, did you know that sleep also plays a crucial role in your emotional well-being, too?
Sleep deprivation, even at just minor levels, affects your mental state, psychological health, and emotional wellness. If you have poor sleep habits or a sleeping disorder, you may want to know more about how this critical health habit is affecting your emotions.
What Makes for Quality Sleep?
While you are asleep each night, you alternate between two distinct phases of sleep. As the night progresses, the length of time you are in varies. The quiet sleeping category involves deep sleep during which time your blood pressure, temperature, and breathing slow or lower while your muscles relax deeply. During this phase, your body is repairing and rejuvenating.
During rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, you are dreaming while your physical markers all remain pretty high, like those while you are awake. During REM sleep, your mind is busy processing, learning, and encoding things into memory, and this phase of sleep is linked to emotional health in many ways.
When your sleep becomes disrupted, whether during REM or quiet sleep, these processes become interrupted. Sleep disruptions raise levels of stress hormones and neurotransmitters, causing impairment in the brain that affects cognition as well as emotional awareness and control.
Mental Health and Sleep
There are many types of medical conditions and factors that will disrupt sleep, including insomnia, sleep apnea, movement disorders, narcolepsy, chronic pain, and diabetes. When you have one of these disorders, it can influence mental health issues. And these disruptions in sleep impact your emotional regulation, which can affect how you behave, feel, and think.
Most people who have depression also suffer from some type of sleep disorder. And when you have insomnia, your chance of developing depression increases significantly. Being sleep deprived makes it challenging to reason, to control the spiraling of negative emotions that often occur with depression, and much more. In studies of young children with sleep problems, it was found that most developed depression later in life, indicating that eh sleeping problems arose before the mental health problems.
Those with sleeping problems and mental health issues are less likely to respond to treatment, as well. This includes the success of medications such as antidepressants. Those who continue have sleep disruptions are much more likely to consider or to die from suicide than depressed patients who have no problems sleeping.
Sleep has similar influences on conditions such as anxiety, manic-depressive disorders, PTSD, and ADHD. And having a sleeping disorder puts you at significantly increased risk for also having one or more of these types of problems.
Emotional Health and Sleep
Because emotional health is a component of mental health, the above section describes the most significant impacts that sleep deprivation and disruptions can have on your emotional state. But, even minor or occasional interruptions to your sleep influence how well you regulate your emotions, your ability to recognize and understand the feelings of others, and how well you cope with stress and other negative impacts on your life.
When you deprive your brain of sleep, it lacks enough time to cleanse your neurons of waste products, to repair damaged neural networks, or to accurately process new memories or information.
Combined these factors all influence who will you understand and process your emotions as well as your ability to effectively cope with new information, obstacles, or the intense feelings of others. When wastes build up in the brain, your decision-making skills, reactions times, and ability to reason decrease, leaving you to rely on your emotions to help you make choices.