The mental ramifications of sleeplessness
Articles / Blog

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06-12-15 Category: Mental Health, Therapy


In a way, humans mimic batteries in terms of how they produce and conserve energy. The effort individuals exert is transferred to the productivity of business and communication with others. In order to maintain and sustain that energy, the person must also rest and recharge each night. All life abides by this rule in some form or another. Sleep is a universal element that is important for survival.

While sleep is undoubtedly imperative to a being’s quality of living, understanding why this is a fact is still shrouded in mystery. Some of the latest research regarding sleep proclaims that the process is regulated by the polar forces of wakefulness and the inhibition of neural circuitry. Over the course of going to bed and closing one’s eyes, different arousal systems are gradually deactivated throughout the areas of the brain. The exact activity taking place in the nervous system is easily measurable through the use of EEG and other technological advancements. Although scholars and scientists may have identified the major components in play, some mechanisms going on in between still cross into the realm of mystery. Academics may know all the stages of sleep, but are still unsure why people need it.

When a person lacks rest, his or her resulting functionality, of lack thereof, is clearly evident. Deprivation is associated with reduced attention, mood instability and a general lag of thoughts and actions. However, studies over time have built up a strong case that missing out on sleep is linked to much more serious side effects. On top of a clear impairment to one’s memory and other cognitive functions, a person may have a higher risk of developing medical illnesses, such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and obesity.

Some of the most significant revelations include the impacts of sleep on the mind itself. Mental disorders that have the greatest connection to lack of sleep include:

    • Depression: Depressed individuals may suffer from a range of indicators including difficulty falling asleep, difficulty maintaining sleep, experiencing unrefreshing sleep and feeling sleepiness during the daytime. Research suggests that the risk of developing depression is highest among people who have difficulty staying asleep.
  • Bipolar disorder: People afflicted by bipolar disorder often report significant shifts in sleep along with mood dysregulation. The symptom is now thought to be a predictor of manic-depressive tendencies.
  • Anxiety disorders: The extreme levels of stress that come with an anxiety disorder oppose the process of sleep by nature. From generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and panic disorder to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other phobias, evidence shows that the heightened agitation of these conditions can occupy one’s mind in an active manner and prevent the daily need for rejuvenation.
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): Hyperactivity is another condition that works directly against restful mechanisms. Some studies have also proposed that sleep problems are interrelated with ADHD, as daytime sleepiness may worsen the signs of the disorder and hyperactivity could be a way of making up for a lack of rest.

While medicine is used to treat insomnia or a lack of sleep simply as a symptom of a mental disorder, the relationship is better understood in a bidirectional and interdependent way. Having disruptive patterns of rest is more likely to occur in demographics with psychiatric disorders than those in general. Conversely, trouble sleeping can also increase an individual’s vulnerability to particular mental illnesses. Overall, the comorbidity between these two problems is high and involves similar dysfunctions of the brain and its activity. If multiple conditions exist, treating the sleep disorder along with the mental health disorder can help alleviate symptoms in a much more effective manner, as one problem can fuel or exacerbate another.

Sovereign Health of California provides mental health treatment to an all-encompassing range of demographics in the Golden State. Each facility carefully crafts a restorative and luxurious environment for potential clients to feel at home away from home. Sovereign acts as a psychological safe haven equipped with treatment programs and resources required for a smooth recovery. Everyone needs a chance to relax and renew, especially within our work intensive world. If you or a loved one has problems sleeping in conjunction with a greater mental disorder, chat with a consultant online or call (866) 819-0427.

Written by Lee Yates, Sovereign Health Group writer

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