How do sleeping disorders affect your mental health?

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An early day at office/college, late night target completion work, binge watching on Netflix and waking up again early the next morning, and feeling exhausted all over again. 

Insomnia is a psychological and physical battle. Research and clinical experience shows that insomnia is associated with reduced quality of life and moreover with depression. Our lives in this ever growing and globalizing world is keeping us so busy that ‘sleep’ feels like a luxury which we push to weekends to catch up. But this is not how human sleep cycle works. Not only insomnia worsens a person’s mental illness, study suggests that in both adults and children, sleep disorders contribute to development of some psychiatric disorders.

But a major question that arises is how does sleep affect our mental well-being?

People are typically very devoid of this awareness and probably that is the reason we treat insomnia or excessive sleepiness as casual. 

Basically, a normal sleeper cycles between two major categories of sleep –

  • QUIET SLEEP
    During the quiet sleep, a person progresses through deep sleep and this in turn produces physiological changes that helps to boost immunity system.
  • RAPID EYE MOVEMENT (REM) – It happens every 90 minutes. REM is the period when people dream and study says that this sleep category contributes a lot to memory and learning and to emotional health.

So, it is a reality that treating sleep disorders may help in alleviating symptoms of mental health problems. 

If a person is feeling low, he may not realize that lack of sleep is the culprit. This is something which is very basic. If you don’t sleep well at night, it is natural of you to be cranky and irritated all day long. But these are basic not positive, because the unenthusiasm can further generate clinical symptoms of depression like feeling persistently alone or abandoned.

As per the report of National Sleep Foundation, these alterations to one’s mood can affect not only that person’s mental well- being but also his social relationships and family dynamics.  The brain basis of a mutual relationship between sleep and mental is not yet completely comprehended.

Psychiatrists across the world state that a good night’s sleep helps foster both mental and emotional resilience, while chronic sleep deprivation leads to nothing but emotional vulnerability and weakness, and negative thinking. Ralph Waldo Emerson quotes “Finish each day before you begin the next, and interpose a solid wall of sleep between the two”.

Calming your mind is supremely important. In times of distress, restlessness and sleeplessness what one can do is calm his mind with conscious relaxation, that includes meditation, deep breathing exercise or listening to light music or by cognitive therapy. Also, fitness and physical exercise also plays a vital role in keeping in control one’s negative emotions. Because it is believed that if you are not able to take control of your mind, then focus on your body as that may prove to be way more effective.

It is better to focus on your breath rather than negativity. But these steps can and should be taken after the person has consulted with a therapist which in turn emphasizes on the point that it is necessary to open up about your mental illness and should not allow any shame or stigma to become a barrier. Food eating habits should also be kept under check. A recent scientific fact proves that one should try and avoid eating junk or consuming aerated drinks after 11pm as it distorts the person’s night sleep. Apart from this, aversion from social media usage is very basic. Youth should definitely avoid internet surfing at night.

It is very important to sleep with calm thoughts as that would help one get a peaceful sleep. All these techniques and practices will help to change the ‘blame game’ of attributing every professional or personal life blunders during the day on lack of sleep.

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