Quality Sleep: A Missing Link in the Case of Psychiatric Illnesses

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Individuals who can't sleep a wink or wake up on the wrong side of the bed are at a mighty disadvantage of developing multiple problems, such as heart diseases and diabetes. The repercussions of lack of sleep and sleep problems also extend to the realm of mental well-being.

The relationship between mental health and quality sleep is not fully understood. However, there is substantial evidence to corroborate the point that they influence each another due to the existence of bidirectional relationship. Therefore, poor sleep is responsible for both onset and worsening of mental disorders.

Sleep is described as a condition of body and mind that typically recurs for several hours every night when the nervous system is inactive, the eyes closed, the postural muscles relaxed and the consciousness practically suspended. It is crucial for regulating mood, processing emotions, conducting daily activities and turning experiences into memories. In fact, good sleep reduces the risk of developing serious mental illnesses, such as anxiety disorders, depression and psychosis.

According to a study funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), sleep is also linked to the onset of Alzheimer's disease. Therefore, good sleep, especially rapid eye movement sleep (REMS), plays a vital role in ensuring emotional well-being and psychological balance.

In addition to the above, sleep problems can also occur due to an existing mental disorder. Compared to the general population, sleep problems are more prominent among people grappling with the challenges of mental illnesses. As the persistence of sleep problems can worsen the existing mental health conditions, it is necessary to adequately treat such issues.

Sleep problems psychiatric conditions

The lack of sleep reduces impulse control and impairs cognitive behavioral skills. Individuals coping with mental illnesses experience these problems to a greater degree than their mentally healthy peers. In fact, the risk of developing suicidal thoughts and behaviors is more pronounced in a person suffering from both sleep problems and mental disorders. Similarly, individuals with psychiatric illnesses are more likely to worsen their sleep problems, exacerbating both issues in the process.

Oftentimes, when sleep problems persist, many individuals turn to over-the-counter (OTC) medicines or prescription drugs. Using prescription medications as the means to fall sleep has a wide range of risks, such as:

Though medical practitioners have time and again highlighted the repercussions of sleep deficit on body and mind, there is still comparatively lesser focus upon this fact. With the foray of a range of technologies and other distractions, quality sleep has invariably taken a back seat. This has led a marked surge in the number of mental health issues among the masses.