10 sur­pris­ing facts about sleep and pre­serv­ing our men­tal health

South Florida Times - - HEALTH & CARIBBEAN - By early and dif­fi­culty fall­ing or stay­ing asleep. 6. Trou­ble sleep­ing is a symp­tom of de­pres­sion:


If you’ve ever felt drowsy or “zoned out” in class or at work, then you’re al­ready aware of how im­por­tant a good night’s sleep can be. What you might not know, how­ever, is that sleep isn’t just im­por­tant for help­ing you get through those dreaded Monday morn­ings, but it’s es­sen­tial for your men­tal health too.

Amer­ica is sleep-de­prived, to say the least. Around 40 mil­lion peo­ple per year suf­fer from chronic, long-term sleep dis­or­ders and an ad­di­tional 20 mil­lion ex­pe­ri­ence oc­ca­sional sleep is­sues. Poor sleep habits have been linked to prob­lems like de­pres­sion and anx­i­ety, in­creased risk for heart dis­ease and can­cer, mem­ory is­sues, re­duced im­mune sys­tem, and weight gain. It’s no won­der sleep is­sues ac­count for an es­ti­mated $16 bil­lion in med­i­cal costs each year. That doesn’t even in­clude in­di­rect costs due to lost pro­duc­tiv­ity.

1. Sleep de­pri­va­tion im­pairs our abil­ity to think clearly:

REM (rapid eye move­ment) sleep — the deep­est stage of the sleep cy­cle, stim­u­lates the brain re­gions used in learn­ing. One study shows that REM sleep af­fects the learn­ing of cer­tain skills. Those in­volved in the study were taught a skill and then de­prived of REM sleep re­sult­ing in lack of re­call of what they had learned. Con­versely, those that had full REM sleep eas­ily re­called what they had learned.4 Es­sen­tially, when deep sleep is dis­rupted, it wreaks havoc on our brains and im­pairs our abil­ity to think clearly and re­mem­ber things.

2. Driver fa­tigue can be as dan­ger­ous as driv­ing in­tox­i­cated:

Ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional High­way Traf­fic Safety Ad­min­is­tra­tion,5 driver fa­tigue is re­spon­si­ble for about 100,000 mo­tor ve­hi­cle ac­ci­dents and 1,500 deaths ev­ery year. Sleep de­pri­va­tion is not only bad for your mind and body, but in some cases, can also en­dan­ger the lives of oth­ers. A study that tested peo­ple us­ing a driv­ing sim­u­la­tor showed that sleep-de­prived peo­ple drove as badly or worse than some­one who is in­tox­i­cated.6 Sleep de­pri­va­tion also mag­ni­fies the ef­fects of al­co­hol on the body, so a drowsy per­son who drinks will be even fur­ther im­paired than a well-rested per­son who drinks.

3. Doc­tors have de­scribed more than 70 dif­fer­ent types of sleep dis­or­ders:

The most com­mon ones are: in­som­nia (dif­fi­culty fall­ing or stay­ing asleep), sleep ap­nea (ob­structed breath­ing that causes mul­ti­ple awak­en­ings), rest­less leg syn­drome (prompts night fid­get­ing and im­pairs qual­ity of sleep), and nar­colepsy (fall­ing asleep sud­denly dur­ing the day).

4. Sleep con­cerns may be more likely to af­fect those with ex­ist­ing men­tal health con­di­tions:

Once upon a time, sleep prob­lems were thought of as just symp­toms of men­tal health con­di­tions, but now re­search tells us they may con­trib­ute to or even be a cause of them. This also means that treat­ing the sleep dis­or­der may help al­le­vi­ate the symp­toms as­so­ci­ated with a men­tal health con­di­tion and vice versa. It is worth not­ing that chronic sleep prob­lems af­fect about 50 to 80 per­cent of those with psy­chi­atric con­di­tions and ten to 18 per­cent of adults in the gen­eral U.S. pop­u­la­tion.

5. There are many symp­toms as­so­ci­ated with sleep de­pri­va­tion:

Ex­perts say that if you con­sis­tently feel drowsy dur­ing the day or ex­pe­ri­ence mi­crosleeps, then you may have se­vere sleep de­pri­va­tion or even a sleep dis­or­der. Other signs of sleep deficit are: con­stant tired­ness, ha­bit­u­ally us­ing caf­feine to get through the day, not wak­ing up re­freshed, drowsi­ness while driv­ing or dur­ing mun­dane ac­tiv­i­ties like watch­ing TV, mem­ory prob­lems, wak­ing up too

Stud­ies es­ti­mate that 65 to 90 per­cent of adults (and about 90 per­cent of chil­dren) with clin­i­cal de­pres­sion ex­pe­ri­ence some form of sleep con­cerns. Most com­monly, it’s in­som­nia, one in five suf­fer from sleep ap­nea. Hyper­som­nia (ex­ces­sive tired­ness dur­ing the day) is also com­mon among peo­ple with de­pres­sion. Sleep prob­lems are not only a symp­tom of de­pres­sion, but also a con­trib­u­tor to it.

7. Anx­i­ety and sleep con­cer ns are fre­quently present to­gether:

Sleep con­cerns af­fect more than 50 per­cent of adults with gen­er­al­ized anx­i­ety dis­or­der and are also com­mon among those with post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der, panic dis­or­der, o b s e s s ive - c o m p u l s ive dis­or­der and pho­bic dis­or­ders. Anx­i­ety also con­trib­utes to dis­rupted sleep, often in the form of in­som­nia or night­mares. Sleep de­pri­va­tion also el­e­vates the risk for anx­i­ety dis­or­ders — yet an­other chicken and egg sit­u­a­tion be­tween sleep prob­lems and other men­tal health con­di­tions.

8. Sleep con­cerns are as­so­ci­ated with ADHD in both chil­dren and adults:

Var­i­ous sleep prob­lems af­fect 25 to 50 per­cent of chil­dren with ADHD — the more com­mon con­di­tions are daytime tired­ness and sleep-dis­or­dered breath­ing. For adults with ADHD, the typ­i­cal is­sues are dif­fi­culty fall­ing asleep, shorter sleep du­ra­tion and rest­less slum­ber. For both chil­dren and adults, the symp­toms of ADHD and sleep prob­lems over­lap so much that it may be dif­fi­cult to tell them apart.

9. Sleep qual­ity may im­prove with good bed­time habits:

Some tips to com­bat poor sleep are: • Fol­low a reg­u­lar bed­time and wake up time (be­cause your body craves the con­sis­tency) • Avoid caf­feine, al­co­hol, and nico­tine close to bed­time, • Ex­er­cise dur­ing the day, as well as get reg­u­lar ex­po­sure to nat­u­ral light • Med­i­ta­tion • Use the bed­room only for sleep (not for work or us­ing elec­tron­ics, so that your brain doesn’t as­so­ciate your bed as a place of busy ac­tiv­ity)

10. Treat­ment for in­som­nia isn’t as sim­ple as cur­ing it with pre­scrip­tion sleep aids:

While doc­tors usu­ally pre­scribe sleep­ing pills for short-term in­som­nia, long-term use can lower the pills’ ef­fec­tive­ness. If you are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing sleep con­cerns and would like to ex­plore a drug-free, non-in­va­sive op­tion, neu­ro­feed­back may be an al­ter­na­tive worth ex­plor­ing.

Al­low­ing your­self to get a good amount of shut­eye on a reg­u­lar ba­sis not only re­stores your body, but your mind too. The power of sleep and its re­la­tion­ship with your men­tal well­be­ing is more vi­tal than ever in to­day’s busy, rest­less cul­ture. Un­der­stand­ing how one af­fects the other not only helps in get­ting the most ac­cu­rate di­ag­noses, but also aids in im­proved treat­ments for both con­di­tions.

Ed­u­ca­tion and aware­ness are es­sen­tials in un­der­stand­ing men­tal health and the im­por­tance of rest. If you or any­one you know is ex­hibit­ing signs of a sleep dis­or­der or a men­tal con­di­tion, en­cour­age them to seek help.



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