The importance of sleep is often mentioned regarding health, yet many people do not get the amount or quality of sleep needed. Sleep is important for both physical health and mental health. Today, society is very fast paced which can leave little time to sleep. Many people sacrifice sleep to continue working which can create a disruption in overall health quality. Sleep fuels the brain and mind while the body rests. Without adequate sleep, the mind begins to slow and will break down because of being deprived. Memories, emotions, and new information are processed when proper sleep is achieved. This helps to create space for what is needed. Lack of sleep can prevent this process resulting in harmful alternatives. The consolidation of positive emotional content, influencing of mood, and emotional reactivity are very needed. This can be tied to mental health disorders and their severity.
Mental health and sleep are very closely connected. While sleep has an impact on mental health, the mind can create problems that impact sleep. Sleeplessness can cause anxiety, panic attacks, depression and other mental health issues. These problems can cause racing and repetitive thoughts. Depression and its different forms can cause a person to sleep more or have insomnia. This condition is the inability to fall asleep and stay asleep. Post-traumatic stress disorder can create nightmares or night terrors that will disrupt sleep. This can even cause feelings of being unsafe or uncomfortable in bed. Paranoia from these problems can make it difficult to fall asleep. Mania creates feelings of energy and elation so a person may not feel tired and may not want to sleep. All of these are mental health problems should be addressed and taken seriously to provide better quantity and quality of sleep.
The amygdala, the part of the brain that manages emotional responses, needs proper rest as that is the time allocated to process emotions. It can go into overdrive when sleep is missed, causing immediate emotional reactions to intensify. A study using an MRI brain scan showed the amygdala was around 60% more emotionally reactive in participants who were sleep deprived compared to those well rested. The prefrontal cortex of the brain is also impacted by poor sleep habits. This part of the brain is considered “the voice of reason” as it helps to control impulses. Poor sleep causes a disruption of the communication between the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala as they must work together to manage emotions and responses. This causes impulsive behaviors to normal daily scenarios. This disruption of communication is what creates vulnerability, erratic behavior, and increased reactivity.
A lack of sleep also impacts hormone distribution in a person’s brain. About 50 different hormones are produced and regulated by the body. They act as chemical messengers for the brain and deliver messages to different areas of the body. Hormones have an influence on weight, mood, immunity, growth, healing, and much more. They allow people to function properly or incorrectly. One of those hormones is cortisol. This chemical keeps people alert and is a major player in a person’s “flight or fight” mode. If the proper amount of sleep is not achieved, too much cortisol is produced in the brain. This puts the body under a constant state of stress. Heightened stress can lead to heightened anxiety which can make a person hypersensitive to physical, mental, and emotional stimuli.
Get Some Rest
The brain depends on the appropriate amount of quality sleep to act properly. Sleep is important to having a healthy body and mind. The brain is made up of many different parts that all communicate with each other. Sleep is needed for the proper communication and when it is not given, the brain cannot function properly. While society today is busy and constantly moving, it is important to slow down and make time to rest when it is needed.