A good night’s rest is something everyone wants, but remains elusive for many. It’s especially elusive for people with mental illness; in a typical psychiatric practice, 50-80% of patients are affected by a sleep disorder! The cyclical relationship between mental health and sleep is important to understand if you want to get better.
Today we’d like to explore this complex relationship and hopefully shed some light on why sleep is so important!
A Vicious Cycle
The relationship between sleep and mental health is something of a chicken and egg type situation. Mental problems can keep people up at night, and the resulting lack of sleep causes the mental problems to get worse. PTSD, for instance, can interrupt sleep cycle through nightmares.
All kinds of mental issues can interrupt this cycle: manic episodes, depression, PTSD, anxiety, ADHD, and more. Sometimes the relationship between these things is obvious; for instance, a manic person will be full of energy and have trouble falling asleep. But in some cases such as depression, the links are evident but the causes are murky.
More Than Groggy: The Risks of Bad Sleep
Sleep comes in cycles. The deepest sleep is REM sleep, which is about 25% of your total sleeping time. This is where you dream, and a lack of REM sleep can cause cognitive issues, among other things. Lack of sleep in general can sap people of enthusiasm and impair their ability to drive, work, or other necessary functions.
For people with mental illness, sleep is especially important because it can reduce the efficacy of treatment. For instance, insomnia can cause people to respond less to SSRIs and other clinical treatments for depression.
One of the most important parts of treating mental health is to establish good sleep habits. Regular bedtimes, meditation, and occasionally sleep aids are all good first steps to establish a foundation for treatment.
Are you struggling with the side effects of a sleep disorder? Therapy can help, especially if your sleep problems are rooted in depression or anxiety! You deserve to get a good night’s rest. If you or someone you love could benefit from therapy, reach out to Azevedo Family Psychology today! Together, we can create a life worth celebrating.