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What is the Deep Connection Between Mental Health and Sleep?

Have you ever experienced the stress of an important meeting that didn’t even let you sleep? Well, we all have been in such a situation when we feel restless due to excitement, anxiety or stress. It’s the time when you know that your body needs rest to put your best foot forward the next day, but your mind refuses to shut down.

However, having rare restlessness is one thing, but many people suffer from various health conditions due to lack of sleep. If you buy mattress online of the best quality but still feel a lack of sleep, it could be an indicator of some underlying mental illness. This is the reason why sleep and mental health are closely related.

The Connection between Mental Health and Sleep

Frequent sleeplessness could be a sign or cause of any mental illness. Such sleep issues could lead to the prolongation or development of any serious mental condition or make it difficult to deal with any existing mental problem.

The most common sleep disorder that most people around the world suffer from is insomnia. It is estimated that many people who suffer from insomnia and hypersomnia also suffer from one or the other mental illness. So, it’s not difficult to doubt the link between mental health and sleep anymore.

People with mental health issues are often reported to have sleep that’s not restorative. They often remain awake even when they’re tired. It could also occur due to falling asleep too late, frequent waking up during the night or waking up too early.

Mental Conditions Associated with Lack of Sleep

According to experts, there are many mental conditions associated with lack of sleep. If you often feel drowsy at daytime or get microsleeps, you might be suffering from sleep deprivation or any other sleep disorder. There are many signs of sleep deprivation, such as not waking up refreshed, constant tiredness, intake of too much caffeine and drowsiness when doing mundane activities like driving, watching TV, etc.

If we talk about the mental conditions associated with lack of sleep, here are some problems that you need to know about:

1. Sleep deprivation impairs one’s ability to think:

Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep is the deepest stage of a sleeping pattern. According to a study, REM sleep affects a person’s learning ability. People who were involved in this study were taught a skill and made to deprive of REM sleep that further resulted in a lack of recalling what they had learned. On the other hand, people who received complete REM sleep were easily able to recall the skill they were taught. So, this proves that when deep sleep is disrupted, it creates havoc in the brain while impacting our ability to think clearly.

2. Difficulty in sleeping could be a sign of depression:

According to studies, around 65% to 90% of adults with clinical depression have some other sleep concerns. Most often it is insomnia; however, one person out of five may even suffer from sleep apnoea. Excessive tiredness or hypersomnia is also linked with depression. Hence, sleep problems are not just a sign of depression but could also contribute to any mental condition.

3. Sleep concerns are linked with ADHD in adults and children:

Several sleep issues affect 25% to 50% of children suffering from ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). The most common conditions are sleep-disordered breathing and daytime tiredness. Moreover, adults with ADHD face issues like difficulty in sleeping, restless sleep or shorter sleep duration. So, in both adults and children with ADHD sleep disorder and mental conditions seems inseparable.

4. Sleep Problems Linked with Anxiety Disorders

Many people suffer from an anxiety disorder like social anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, phobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Usually, anxiety is a reaction to stress. Small or big, the stress of any sort can affect your nervous system. People with anxiety disorder often experience stress at an acute level. But in some cases, this state of anxiety heightens to another level and keeps the individual’s nervous system alert all the time. Despite the cause of the stress, their nervous system doesn’t seem to get back to normal and won’t let them fall asleep.

This experience may occur at a hormonal level as well. In this condition, cortisol (body’s stress hormone) works in inversely to melatonin (sleep-inducing hormone). So, with more stress in mind, it gets tough for the brain to produce enough melatonin to induce sleep.

People suffering from anxiety disorders are often prone to given sleep issues:

  • Insomnia: It is a condition when a person feels difficulty in falling asleep. Most individuals with anxiety are known to suffer from anticipatory anxiety toward any fear, mind consuming anxious thoughts or unusual feeling of being overwhelmed. This anxiety level makes it tough for your mind to relax before sleep.
  • Nightmares: This condition is often common with PTSD, where a person relives trauma during an intense dream.
  • Hypersomnia or oversleeping: People in this condition may often oversleep due to extra stress or exhaustion caused by insomnia. Generally, both insomnia and hypersomnia occur simultaneously.
  • Nocturnal panic attacks: Around 44% to 71% of anxiety patients also experience panic disorder. They experience this symptom during non-REM sleep. In this condition, the person wakes up panicking or feeling fearful, accompanied by chest pain, sweating and increased heart rate.


Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) is one of the most effective treatment options for people experiencing mental health issues related to sleep problems.

Psychotherapy or CBT is suggested to people with anxiety disorders. CBT-I is a specialization on insomnia and it applies the similar principles for treatment as the regular CBT like reframing negative thoughts while sleeping.

Therapists often work with their patients and educate them about sleep patterns by making them recognize behaviors and thoughts interfering with their healthy sleep cycle. During the therapy session, patients are taught to replace disturbing sleep behavior or thoughts with healthier reactions to induce better sleep.

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