In fact, it is impossible to mention mental health without mentioning sleep. The two are closely linked in a bilateral relationship and in a “snowball effect”.
This means that sleep influences the maintenance of mental health and that mental health is a key factor for quality sleep. When one of the two begins to fail, the other will inevitably have problems as well.
Due to its restorative, adaptive and behavioural capabilities, the World Health Organization considers sleep a noble physiological function due to its importance in our general health and quality of life, including in a healthy and active growth as well as aging.
With regards to mental health, it is essential to have quality REM sleep, as this is the stage of sleep when we dream most intensely and vividly. During this period, the brain works to process emotional information, especially positive memories. On the other hand, too little REM sleep favours the consolidation of negative memories, which in turn paves the way for symptoms of mental illness.
As the night goes on REM sleep becomes longer and more stable. This is the reason why it is imperative that we get an adequate amount of sleep. Our mental health will be grateful.
Another very common situation that leads to sleep disorders and, consequently, cognitive and emotional dysfunction is anxious mental hyperarousal, which makes it difficult to fall asleep. This condition is a classic characteristic of patients suffering from anxiety, who cannot “slow down” their thoughts which can be quite intrusive, either as a review of the previous day’s occurrences or with the following day’s agenda.
These racing minds are one of the key factors in the difficulty to fall asleep with increased night-time awakenings as well.
As far as anxiety is concerned, it is important to remember that anxiety causes both sleep problems but poor sleep can also cause anxiety.
In this context and due to the importance that sleep can have in mental and emotional health, the American Anxiety and Depression Association warns that sleep disruptions are present in almost all psychiatric disorders and also that people with chronic insomnia are at greater risk of developing anxiety disorders, also warning that taking care of mental health is taking care of sleep and taking care of sleep is taking care of mental health.
We also know that the quality of sleep interferes with the homeostasis of the immune system, hormonal regulation, metabolism and even the cardiovascular system.
Sleep deprivation is dangerous for your health. A few hours’ sleep a night has a permanent effect on our body, even if we get little sleep in just a single night.
Seek help from our medical specialists.