Sleep and Mental health: Why Our Brains Need Sleep

Sleep and Mental health: Why Our Brains Need Sleep

Sleep is as important for us as water or food! There is no replacement for sleep if you wish to function at your best. More importantly, lack of sleep directly affects the human brain. 

Without sleep, the brain starts slowing down and fails to perform at its best. This is because it needs rest, and as a result, the entire body malfunctions. When you sleep, it might feel that you have “switched off,” but the truth is different. Brain electrical activity studies suggest that it cycles through two essential patterns while sleeping- Slow Wave Sleep & Rapid Eye Movement Sleep. 

How are sleep and mental health connected? 

There’s a definitive connection between sleep and mental health. If you have mental health issues, it might affect your sleep quality. On the other hand, if you are experience bad sleep, then it will take a toll on your mental health. 

Worrying remains a central point of this sleep and mental health connection. Firstly, you worry and then lose out on sleep. Secondly, you worry about losing sleep, and it leads to failing to fall asleep again! This is a heinous cycle! 

Effects of sleep deprivation on our mental health 

It is no secret that the brain processes information and memories when sleeping. The brain gets all the work done when the entire body is resting! But if you do not allow the brain to get those crucial quiet hours, it will surely backfire! 

Some of the major consequences that sleep deprivation has on our minds are:

  • Emotional crisis
  • Irritated mood after a sleepless night
  • Increased sensitivity
  • Enhanced impulses

Why do all of these happen? It is majorly due to a biological reason connected to the two areas of the brain known as the amygdala and prefrontal cortex.  

The amygdala is that part of the brain in charge of our emotional responses. To perform, it needs our body to sleep well every night. When we sleep, it processes all the emotions, and if we don’t get sleep, it goes into overdrive! This is when our emotional reactions intensify, and it leaves a lasting impact on our mental health. 

The prefrontal cortex also takes a hit due to the lack of sleep. This part also deals with emotions but puts the break on the amygdala. This means the prefrontal cortex controls those impulses when the amygdala responds impulsively.   

However, when we do not get proper sleep, the prefrontal cortex also stops working at its best. The proper communication between the prefrontal cortex and amygdala takes a hit due to the lack of sleep. It makes us more impulsive and makes drastic decisions- a severe mental health issue that needs attention. Also, such a situation can initiate erratic mood swings, lack of focus, and reduced decision-making ability. 

Hormonal Imbalance

Researchers believe that lack of sleep can lead to chemical imbalances in our brains. Hormones are the most important chemicals that our brain constitutes. Every day, our body produces more than 50 hormones that make up for the chemicals in the brain. 

These hormones travel from the brain through our blood to different body parts and act as messengers. Hormones can directly impact appetite, mood swings, immunity, healing, and more.    

Lack of sleep leads to miscommunication as the brain fails to send the correct information through the hormones. When body parts receive incorrect information, it can lead to serious consequences.

Less sleep means more stress 

Cortisol hormone is secreted by adrenal glands and plays a major role in dealing with stressful situations. Cortisol secretion depends on the pituitary gland and needs to be present in the right amount. It will have severe consequences if your body produces too little or too much cortisol. 

When sleeplessness kicks in, too much cortisol is produced in the brain. It leads to the body being in a constant state of stress. This is a major reason for insomnia for those people who suffer from a lot of stress daily. 

Lack of sleep rewires the brain, and all the factors mentioned above lead to mental health problems. The connection between mental illness and sleep is like a loop in which one leads to another.  

If you have been suffering from sleep deprivation, it is high time you follow some of the best practices to get good sleep. They are-

  • Meditate every night before going to bed. It will help if you relax your racing thoughts before hitting the bed so that all the stress and anxiety can be worn down.
  • Take a hot shower 90 minutes before you go to sleep. It helps reduce the temperature of your body core, ensuring you sleep faster.
  • Practice writing down a daily journal. Pen down all the points that are stopping you from getting sleep. Try to address the issues you can and leave the rest for the next day. This way, your brain will eliminate the anxiety it holds and allow you to sleep well. Always remember that stressing during bedtime will yield no result and instead make you sleep-deprived.

So now you know that sleep isn’t a luxury; it is a necessity. It is high time you value those 8 hours of the day. To get better sleep, try and get the perfect mattress for you. Check out Mancini’s Sleepworld for exciting mattress deals and high-quality sleep essentials. Always remember, having the perfect bedroom also plays a major role in bringing great sleep to you! 

January 05, 2023