Understanding the connection between sleep & mental health



Hi, I am Rajni. I work in an IT company; I generally have 8 hours of a work shift. I am a peaceful person by nature. Lately, I am working on a project for which, I have to work a little extra and my work timings are not fixed nowadays. A week ago or so I forgot my wallet somewhere. Usually, that doesn’t happen. A few days later I forgot to take a change of 300 rupees back from a shopkeeper. And guess what, recently I scolded a person for a very small reason. I realized this is not me. I have never raised my voice without any strong reason. What was wrong? Why I am frequently forgetting tiny little things? What has suddenly changed? Now I think, I am overthinking. What chaos! I decided to visit my doctor. And the day before yesterday I visited her and explained everything. The first thing she asked me was, “How is your sleep?” and I realized I was not sleeping well. “But does that impact so much?” I asked. My doctor explained…….

There is a close relationship between sleep and mental health. She explained everything in detail about,
• How does sleep relate to mental health?
• Understanding what is sleep disturbance
• Why is the sleep disturbance?
• How do mental health problems relate to sleep issue?
• Quick tips to resolve the issue
How does sleep relate to mental health?
There’s a close relationship between lack of sleep and mental health. Living with a mental health problem can affect how well you sleep, and poor sleep can have a negative impact on your mental health. Let’s understand with an example. So if you are worried or stressed out, then your sleep will be disturbed because you overthink the issue; you might take a lot of time to fall asleep. This will cause a lack of sleep. Then you start feeling tired the next day. If you feel tired, then you will feel fatigued in performing daily chores. This you again start overthinking that this will disturb your mental peace. And if the cycle repeats then you might end up with a serious issue. Sleep and mental health are vice versa. Lack of sleep can cause mental health issues and a disturbed mental state can cause a lack of sleep. This is how lack of sleep and mental health are related.
Understanding what is sleep disturbance!
Everybody wants to sleep soundly. Nobody wishes for disturbed sleep. Still, there may be problems that might hinder your sleep. Some of them are,
1. You may find it difficult to fall asleep. You keep on twisting and turning around. You wake up in between or even earlier than you expected.
2. Your sleep is generally disturbed in between due to a nightmare, or wanted thoughts, flashbacks, panic attacks.
3. If you feel heaviness in your head or a headache. Fatigue after waking up. Less energy throughout the day.
4. You are finding it difficult to wake up from the bed itself.
5. Feeling lazy, less productive, tired & sleepy throughout the day. This might be due to lack of sleep or improper quality of sleep, or if you have slept for a short duration.
6. If you are having frequent mood swings, irritation or if you are forgetting things often. If there is lack of concentration in your work. All of this may have sleep disturbance as a background or baseline.
7. If already diagnosed with conditions like insomnia, depression, sleep apnea, etc. then the basic sign of these will be lack of sleep.
Why is the sleep disturbance?
The reasons or the causes of why there is sleep disturbance may vary from person to person. It might be.
1. Sleeping on an uncomfortable bed. This will interrupt your sleep so often that, next you may feel sleep deprived.
2. You might be a new parent or a caretaker which is why there is a continued lack of sleep.
3. You are a shift worker or you work at night. In both cases, sleep is either disturbed or it is very irregular. This can also create mental health issues.
4. You might be suffering from sleep-related problems like insomnia, sleep apnea, sleepwalking, etc.
5. Disturbed sleep due to jet lag which may be due to frequent travel or by profession like a driver, pilot or flight attendant etc.
If you are stressed out, anxious, or worried due to any personal issue this can cause a disturbance in your sleep. Hence Sleep habits and mental health are related closely related.
How do mental health problems relate to sleep issues?
Anxiety – this can cause repetitive thoughts or worries which keep you awake and cause a lack of sleep.
Depression – insomnia is the major issue. Since depressed people always feel hopeless, lonely, and helpless, they tend to overthink and end up spending a lot of time sleepless. And this again hampers their productivity which makes them more depressive.
Trauma – if you have gone through any trauma recently, any major event in life like the loss of dear ones or an accident then this directly hampers your emotional well-being, further damaging the sleep pattern.
Psychiatric medication – can cause side effects including insomnia, disturbed sleep, nightmares, and oversleeping. Stopping psychiatric drugs all of a sudden can also cause sleep problems.
Quick tips to resolve the issue.
• Understand the importance and priorities of sleep.
• Try to establish a routine for sleep. Follow the routine religiously and condition the body to get a good night’s sleep.
• Make your bed before you sleep. Make it clutter-free, comfortable, and most importantly devoid of gadgets.
• Relax your mind. Listen to soothing and relaxing music before you go to bed to distress your mind.
• Get a foot massage or head massage before you sleep. This will calm down the system and prepare your mind for sleep.
• Always consult a doctor whenever needed.
• Seek help if you feel depressed, or anxious or if something is bothering you.
• Take natural supplements whenever needed. Zzowin nutra is one such natural supplement containing melatonin and other ayurvedic herbs that help your sleep quality. It is formulated by Vedistry, from the house of Charak pharma.
• If you can work on these then definitely your sleep habits and mental health will improve.
I said to my doctor, now that I have understood everything and I know where was problem underlying. I will prioritize it and work on it. I happily went home back and slept well. After all, health is wealth.

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