How does less sleep affect your mental health? The psychological side, that is, the emotional and behavioral aspects of you are negatively affected, just as the physiological and physical aspects are when you are deprived of the minimum amount of sleep that you should have every night. Although minimum sleep is subject to an individual’s age and needs, an average of seven to nine hours is recommended.
During sleep, the eyes are closed to shut out visual input. Deprived of a major avenue of information, the brain is then allowed to become semi-conscious, and then fully lose consciousness as it renews itself in a cycle of brain activities that includes dreams and what is known as quiet sleep in which the body undergoes physiological changes that boost immunity.
The other part of sleep, known as the REM (rapid eye movement) sleep is when you start dreaming and your blood pressure, body temperature, heart rate, and breathing increase to the levels as when you are awake. REM sleep enhances learning and memory, and contributes to positive mental health in complex ways.
Minor sleep deprivation disallows the body and brain to go into complete hibernation that initiates and completes the cycle of brain activities for the day. Hence when you wake up, you may find that your lack of sleep results in physical signs, such as droopy eyes, dark rings round the eyes and eye bags just below the lower eyelids.
The first line of defense that your brain takes unfortunately works against the whole body. It goes into a state of denial and makes do with less sleep even though the conscious mind yearns for the bed. Repetitive loss of sleep reinforces the message that the lack of sleep is necessary for advancements in other areas, for example, part time studies to progress in knowledge.
Unfortunately, excuses that will eat into both your sleep and your health will only result in consequences of denying your body of its sleep requirements. While consequences of short term loss of sleep can be eradicated, less sleep in the long term can do more damage to your body, soul and mind.
A prolonged period without sleep will cause problems for you. According to studies by Harvard Medical School, a person deprived of sleep over a prolonged period of time may end up with psychiatric problems. Their studies have shown that sleep problems are common in patients with anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, and Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder.
Although it is not known entirely how sleep and mental health are related, research shows that a person with sufficient sleep is well-rested and usually has greater emotional and mental resilience than a person with chronic sleep disruptions. Hence sleep disorders may lead to certain mental illnesses, and treating sleep disorders may help reduce symptoms of the mental health problem.