Chances are you already know that a lack of sleep can affect your mood. Who among us hasn’t experienced a restless night and then, known the irritable, sluggish feeling of trying to push through work or school the next day? Add a few more restless nights and you can feel like you’re in a real funk, completely run down, not at all yourself. When we don’t get enough sleep, we are more vulnerable to stress. We also experience an increase in feelings of anger, sadness, as well as impaired cognitive function. If you’re suffering from chronic sleep deprivation, you could be at risk of developing depression or an anxiety disorders. 40 million people suffer from chronic sleep deprivation every year, while an additional 20 million struggle occasionally with sleep challenges.1
Is your bad mood a result of sleep deprivation, or is sleep deprivation a result of your bad mood? The answer, in short, is both. If you are battling high levels of anxiety or stress in your life, it causes your body to be hyper-aroused, making it difficult to fall asleep. Consequently, chronic stress can lead to insomnia, which in turn can lead into a mental health disorders. A study conducted on 10,000 adults showed that individuals experiencing insomnia were five times more likely to develop depression, and 20 times more likely to develop an anxiety disorder4. Poor sleep habits are also linked to an increased risk for heart disease, compromised immune system, weight gain and memory issues 2. A study conducted on the effects of learning and the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep cycle showed that those who were taught a skill and then deprived of the deep sleep of REM were less likely to recall the skill than those who had achieved full REM sleep4.It’s no wonder we feel so groggy in the mornings after a lousy night’s sleep, having failed to reach the deepest, most restorative level of our sleep cycle.
So, why is it important to develop healthy sleeping habits? Even partial sleep deprivation can significantly affect your mood. A study conducted on persons who were limited to four and a half hours of sleep a night for a week resulted in individuals who felt stressed, angry, sad, and mentally exhausted. Once they returned to their normal sleeping habits, their mood improved dramatically.1 It’s not always possible to get the full 8 hours of recommended sleep every night, but the longer it takes us to get back on schedule or to develop proper sleeping habits, the more significant an impact the sleep deficit may have on our mental wellness. The sooner we develop good sleeping habits, the better our mental wellness will be.
Ask yourself, the next time you’re feeling irritable or have a hard time concentrating, “how well did I sleep last night”?
You may find the answer to your bad mood is as simple as “I need more sleep!”
- Dinges, D. et al., Cumulative Sleepiness, Mood Disturbance, and Psychomotor Vigilance Decrements During a Week of Sleep Restricted to 4 – 5 Hours Per Night, Sleep. 1997 Apr; 20 (4): 267–277.2.Nofzinger, E., Functional Neuroimaging of Sleep, Seminars in Sleep Neurology. 2005 Mar; 25 (1): 9-18.3. “Get Enough Sleep.” Mental Health America. N.p., 04 Feb. 2014. Web. 23 May 2017.4. Publications, Harvard Health. “Sleep and mental health.” Harvard Health. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 May 2017.