It is no secret to me that lack of sleep impacts my mental health. If I haven’t been sleeping well, my anxiety symptoms intensify and I am much more susceptible to feeling depressed and irritable. I am going through a bout of bad anxiety at the moment and this is affecting my sleep and the lack of sleep is increasing the anxiety – it’s a vicious cycle. Sleep is so so so important, especially for us mums as we need our energy to be able to do all our mama duties throughout the day. Today’s guest post details all the different ways poor sleep can impact your mental health. If you are struggling with sleep, there is support out there to help and make sure you tell your friends and family so they can support you and give you time to rest.
10 ways poor sleep can impact your mental health
Sleep is a crucial part of our lives. So crucial that we spend around one-third of our lives asleep. Despite this, many people still don’t get enough sleep. This can happen for a wide range of reasons. You might have insomnia, you may not have a consistent sleep routine, or you work awkward shifts, making it impossible to switch off when you finish.
However, while this may not seem like a massive issue in small doses, you can always make up the hours tomorrow, after all, increased failure to get enough hours’ sleep can severely impact your mental health. We already know that not enough sleep will make us sluggish and lacking in energy, but what about the effects it can have on our brain? Here are ten ways poor sleep can impact your mental health.
Many people suffer from anxiety. They struggle with facing new environments, meeting new people, or being given responsibilities that they feel is well out of their ability. While this is something ‘normal’ for many people, increased anxiety can also come from a lack of sleep.
Often, it can become a vicious cycle. You are anxious about not getting enough sleep, but this makes it even more challenging to get to sleep. Rather than allow your brain to shut off, you start counting the hours that you have left to get to sleep, which will only make things worse.
So how can you solve this? There are plenty of ways you can overcome your anxiety to improve your sleep. One particular method is looking at Hypnotherapy for anxiety, which will help to calm your nerves and eliminate any worries that you might have, whether they are founded or imagined.
A lack of sleep will mean your brain is not well-rested, and no matter how hard you try to be a bright and cheery person, you will still find it difficult to avoid being irritated, at least for an entire day.
This can severely impact your day, making you feel unwilling to carry out specific tasks and even getting frustrated with the simplest things. Such irritability is especially evident when it comes to something you cannot control, such as the weather or traffic.
Your irritability will not just affect you; it can also have a knock-on effect with others. Your frustrations can pass to others, who will take it out on people they know, creating a cycle of negativity that all came from you not getting enough sleep.
Your concentration and your performance will be significantly affected if you are unable to get enough sleep every night. At first, you might not notice it. You may experience a little brain fog first thing in the morning, although this will usually lift by the time you have had your first (or second) coffee.
However, just like your anxiety will compound, so too will your inability to perform. Eventually, when you have been unable to catch up on sleep, you will find your performance dropping significantly. This won’t just relate to work. It could also be in your personal life, especially with exercise.
Over time, you will recognise that you are not the same person you were. While you might have considered yourself a talented person previously, you’ll soon see that you’re incapable of reaching your expected levels, and this can have an even worse effect on your mental health.
Depression is one side-effect of a drop in performance, although it can also come on from severe lack of sleep. If you are unable to get to sleep at the same time regularly, you might find yourself plagued by severe depressive episodes.
However, depression can also be a trigger when it comes to lack of sleep, much like anxiety can also be a reason for being unable to sleep. If you find yourself too much inside your own head, it is almost impossible to switch off. This again creates a negative cycle, whereby you stay in bed to catch up on sleep, meaning you might miss events and even fail to show up to work, which will only compound your depression further.
Everyone knows when they are in a bad mood, and this will come from the exhaustion you feel from not getting enough sleep. Despite sharing many similarities with irritability, they are not always the same thing. Bad moods might not necessarily mean you take your frustrations out of others, but instead, you will find it difficult to concentrate.
You might even stew on supposed slights, even if this was not the intention, and this could cause you to overreact. This type of behaviour is never acceptable, regardless of how much sleep you did or did not get, so make sure you can check yourself before an outburst to prevent saying something you might regret.
If not checked, this bad mood becomes your natural state, and nobody wants to hang out with someone who is continuously abusive and malicious, so keep this in mind.
Poor Decision Making
Everyone is capable of making poor decisions, but a lack of sleep, cloudy mind and inability to focus correctly makes poor decisions even more likely to occur.
Sometimes, this will be a minor problem. You might pour yourself the wrong coffee. You might wear odd socks to work. This is okay; things like this can happen to the best of us.
However, there are more serious problems, especially when it comes to driving. If you are too exhausted to focus on the road, there’s a risk you will not react in time, which could cause an accident, and this is not something you want to risk doing.
A bad mood could also lend itself to erratic behaviour. With a severe lack of sleep, you are unlikely to be thinking clearly, and this means you could act out of character. While this can also be a signal of something deeper, such as bipolar disorder, it’s also related to lacking sufficient sleep to recharge your body.
There will be some days where you are capable of being like your ‘normal’ self, but there will be others that find you being an entirely different person. At first, you may be more like yourself than not, but if you do not take the correct steps to ensure you get enough sleep every day, your erratic behaviour will soon become the norm.
The problem is that you will not be able to recognise this behaviour, which leaves the onus on your friends, family, and coworkers to try to set you right.
On a more severe level, psychosis could be a result of failing to get enough sleep. This is not something that will happen immediately, but if you do not take action to get enough hours of sleep each night, it could happen to you.
The likes of psychosis and mania are extreme examples of erratic behaviour. You will start to hallucinate from the severe lack of sleep, which could cause you to panic and make rash and ill-informed decisions. The troubling fact is that you will begin to lose your grip on reality, which will only make any problems much worse.
While some psychotic episodes can be positive, the vast majority will increase your anxiety and even cause you to distrust people, whether they are friends or strangers.
Your relationships are one of the most significant mental health issues you will experience if you fail to get enough sleep. As you will be unreliable with your timing, your friends, family, and coworkers may struggle to get in touch with you. What’s more, if they ever can get in touch with you, there’s a risk you will not be the same person they hoped to speak to.
Whether through exhaustion or irritability, there is the chance that you could severely hinder and disrupt these relationships, which can be difficult to mend if it continues to happen.
If your relationships begin to break down, there is also a chance you will experience severe loneliness and isolation. As humans are supposed to be social beings, being cut off from the world around them will have a negative impact on their mental health. You will not be able to engage with others, at least not face-to-face, and while this is manageable for a few days or even a few weeks, it will soon become too much for you to handle.
However, your erratic and even abusive behaviour brought on by your mental health will mean people will not want to spend time with you, even if they are your best friends or your partner, and this could cut you off from others even more.
A Good Night’s Sleep
Hopefully, you’ve long grown out of the childish idea that sleep is for the weak. Hopefully, you understand that you need to get a sufficient number of hours to perform properly, and you cannot burn the candle at both ends. Suppose you recognise any of these issues are being familiar while also knowing that you struggle to get enough sleep every day. In that case, it is time to re-evaluate your lifestyle and counteract any mental health issues and be a happier, more productive individual in all your endeavours.
Do you find lack of sleep impacts your mental health? What do you do when you are struggling to get enough sleep? I would love to read about your experiences in the comments.