Can Lack of Sleep Cause Mental Issues?

March 25, 2019

Young woman with long brown hair sleeping under warm knitted peach color throw blanket

It’s estimated that 50% to 80% of people seeking mental health care also complain of issues with sleep, and those who are suffering from depression, anxiety, or ADHD are particularly likely to grapple with sleep as well. Experts once believed sleep disturbances to be a consequence of mental health issues. More recent research, however, has suggested that this may not be the whole story.

These studies have found that sleep disturbances may actually be working as a trigger, raising your risk of developing a mental health condition. While scientists aren’t exactly sure why this is, they have found some connections.

When we sleep, we cycle through different stages of rest – REM and non-REM sleep. Studies have shown that REM sleep helps our brains improve learning skills, memory, and overall emotional health. When this type of sleep is disrupted, our neurotransmitters and stress hormones are also disrupted. This disruption can exacerbate any already-present symptoms of mental health conditions and vice versa.

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