The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has been a significant source of stress for almost a year now, causing many people to have countless nights with little to no sleep. One area of major concern that has not been discussed very often is the impact these sleepless nights can have on mental health.
But what exactly are the telltale signs of sleep deprivation? And how does sleep deprivation factor into your mental health? This guide will give you the facts you should know and point you to the professional help you may need. That way, you can take the initiative to take better care of yourself in the new year.
The Link Between Sleep Deprivation and the Mind
Sleep is like the fuel for the mind and body. Without proper sleep, especially for extended periods of time, our cognitive function can start to slow. Occasional disruptions in sleep can usually be easily remedied, but if disruptions happen frequently or over a prolonged period of time, it can result in the development or prolongation of mental health disorders.
Considering that our body produces and regulates approximately 50 different hormones—all of which influence our appetite, weight, mood, immunity, growth, healing, and more—sleep deprivation interferes with the communication between the brain and these chemical messengers. This can cause hormones to act differently, or worse, deliver misinformation to the body. When hormones don’t deliver the correct information across the body, you experience hormonal disruption or imbalance.
When you have hormonal imbalance, you may feel increased anxiety, fatigue, irritability, changes to appetite and sex drive, among other symptoms.
Psychological Symptoms Resulting from Sleep Deprivation
Sleep deprivation is a significant health condition because prolonged periods of lost sleep can have debilitating effects on your health and well-being. It can be a toxic cycle that gradually just keeps getting worse until active steps are taken to correct sleeping patterns or make necessary lifestyle changes.
People who have preexisting mental health conditions often experience elevated symptoms when they are sleep-deprived. However, even those without preexisting conditions can experience diminished mental stability when they aren’t sleeping enough. Many people fail to see the link between sleep and mental health, but when your mind isn’t in the best place and other treatments yield little results, seeing a sleep specialist could be exactly what you need.
When you are moderately to severely sleep-deprived, you can experience the following psychological symptoms:
Feelings of anxiety arise when your body is under stress. Sleep deprivation does exactly that: put stress on your body. You may experience feelings of worry and apprehension that could range from mildly uncomfortable to completely debilitating.
Depression reveals itself in feelings of sadness, emptiness, and anger. It can affect your ability to work and go about your daily life. Depression can also affect your relationships with those around you and even put a damper on your immune system, leaving you more prone to physical illnesses.
Constant feelings of stress and mistrust are paranoia, and they can arise when you have not gotten enough sleep at night. These irrational suspicions can affect your day-to-day life and cause major repercussions if left untreated.
• Poor Impulse Control
Some people are naturally impulsive, but others simply exhibit impulsive behaviors because their normal decision-making process is thrown off. A lack of sleep can compromise your ability to make decisions because your brain is exhausted and your neurons are struggling to transmit information.
Aside from these symptoms, severely sleep-deprived people can also experience trouble with coordination and regulating their mood. They may even experience hallucinations or suicidal thoughts.
Invest in Your Natural Sleep Cycle
Mental illness is real and should be addressed by mental health professionals. However, it’s possible that some of the symptoms you are experiencing are linked to inadequate sleep. If you suspect your sleeping problems could be the cause of your poor mental health, get in touch with our sleep specialists for a consultation.
Remedying sleep deprivation and its mental health effects can be challenging. Hopefully you now have a better understanding of what you may be experiencing and how you can improve your quality of life. Start by nurturing your natural sleep cycle to condition your body and mind for a healthier, better you!
Get Better Rest with Our Sleep Specialists in Jacksonville!
The Jacksonville Sleep Center can offer you practical solutions through our tests, state-of-the-art facilities, and sleep doctors to help you snooze normally and better your well-being! Contact our sleep specialists in Jacksonville today to normalize healthy rest!