Did you know that sleep deprivation or sleeplessness can also result in mental health problems?
Sleep and eating are both fundamental physical needs. Everyone needs to sleep, which is why during World War II, the concentration camps took advantage of people when they were sleep deprived to brain wash them. But did you know that sleep deprivation or sleeplessness can also result in mental health problems?
Signs of Normal Sleep
The human body clock has a cycle of around 25 hours. The clock will be affected by external factors such as light, diet, work, habits, etc., eventually adjusting to a 24-hour cycle, a Circadian rhythm. Primarily affected by the interaction of the reticular activating system on the brainstem and limbic system, endocrine, nervous system, and other body functions, the formation of our biological rhythm is incredibly complex. The amount of sleep needed varies greatly from people to people: some need only four to five hours while others require up to ten hours. For the majority of the population however, six to eight hours is the norm.
A study in 2007, with a sample of 10,000 people, found that people affected by insomnia are 5 times more likely to develop depression. Studies also show that sleeplessness is highly correlated with mental health disorders such as bipolar disorder or dysautonomia. Researchers in Harvard have also discovered that the sleeplessness will cause people to make emotionally-charged decisions. Another study from Ryerson University states that, when treating mental health disorders, treating insomnia first can greatly increase the patient’s chance of recovery. German scientists have found that sleep deprivation not only causes fatigue and impaired concentration but also a unique effect on the brain: people may begin to imagine things that have never happened before. Sleep deprivation impairs concentration, causes symptoms of mental health disorders to appear, and produces strange thoughts that are far removed from reality. People that are sleep deprived also display an obvious impaired concentration that can be found in Schizophrenia patients. Researchers also find that people that are sleep deprived have a heightened sensitivity to light, colors or brightness. Their sense of time and smell will also change as well.
Now that you understand the effects of sleep on mental health, start practicing good sleep hygiene or consult medical professionals when necessary.
by Yan-ru, Lai/Polysomnographic Technologist