Sleep & Mental Health: Cause & Symptom?

Sleep and mental health are tied closely together. Poor sleep can cause or be a resulting symptom of mental health illness. Research has shown a direct link between chronic sleep deprivation and depression, anxiety and stress, and bipolar disorder.

Sleep disorders such as insomnia, narcolepsy, and sleep apnea, can lead to the development of mood swings, grumpiness, irregular emotional reactivity, depressed mood and depression. Sleep deprivation affects the brain’s ability to properly control emotions and negative thoughts, and chronic sleep loss due to a sleep disorder leads to exhaustion and a wide spread of deadly health conditions.

On the other hand, mental health illnesses such as depression and bipolar disorder, can lead to poor sleep quality, or insomnia, which is when you have difficulty falling and/or staying asleep. In fact, while assessing the quality of your mental health, medical professionals will often ask about the state of your sleep quality for clues on how to help you manage mental health issues.

Matthew Walker, professor at UC Berkeley and author of Why We Sleep, wrote “sleep loss and mental illness is best described as a two-way street of interaction.” Fewer than 20% of mental health patients don’t suffer from sleep problems. Poor sleep and/or mental health tends to aggravate the other, while improving your sleep or mental health can improve the state of the other. To avoid the development or worsening of mental health illnesses, it’s important to be evaluated for any sleep disorders and tackle poor sleep habits.