Sleep is an essential part of our lives. Thanks to sleep, our bodies and brains recover from the stresses and tolls that the day brings. Sleep is when your body repairs all the damage that it can. Naturally, not getting enough sleep can seriously harm the body as a result. Lack of sleep has many negative effects on our health, both physical and mental. These effects can be very serious if not addressed.
Numerous factors contribute to not getting an adequate amount of sleep. To ensure that the body and mind are always well-rested, it’s important to understand what these factors are and how we can control them to the fullest extent possible.
One commonly-cited factor that affects sleep is our emotional state. Mental and emotional well-being have profound effects on a person’s ability to sleep restfully. A buildup of negative emotions, in fact, can lead to sleeplessness. If this persists, then physical and mental problems will start piling up as a result. In this article we’ll explore what those consequences are, and how we can avoid deleterious effects by making conscientious efforts to get more – and better – sleep.
How Does Lack of Sleep Affect Us?
Unfortunately, the amount of sleep we get is not always entirely up to us. Sometimes “things get in the way” – work, school, family obligations, etc. Still, we owe it to ourselves to make the best choices that lead to better sleep patterns, enabling us to function better overall.
Lack of sleep is known to have numerous adverse effects on the body. This is well-established, scientific fact that has been studied in great detail by health professionals across the globe. It’s been proven time and again that proper sleep is of paramount importance for our health and well-being. Let’s go over the physical and mental effects that lack of sleep can cause.
Lack of sleep has many physical effects. Some of the most notable ones include the impact that sleep deprivation has on many internal organs. Lack of sleep can cause many heart problems like heart failure, heart attacks, and high blood pressure. Diabetes, problems with digestion, poor skin health, and weight gain are also more likely. There are even studies that link lack of sleep to different types of organ failure.
The brain is heavily affected by the amount of sleep a person gets. An important factor is the role that sleep deprivation plays on the cognitive and emotional centers of the brain. These physical changes are closely tied with mental effects that manifest as emotions and moods.
Sleep deprivation can drastically alter a person’s mental state. Psychologists have found that lack of sleep causes a person’s mood to become more unstable. Mood swings become more frequent, and a person’s reactions can become much more volatile as a result. The reactions can sometimes even be unpredictable in this state.
Another effect that lack of sleep has is that it increases anxiety. People that do not get an adequate amount of sleep generally find it more difficult to relax. This can cascade into a series of events that can lead to mental breakdowns and other psychological problems. There are even some psychological disorders that are closely associated with sleep deprivation.
Studies show that sleep deprivation also strains a person’s relationships with the people around him. Lack of sleep can cause a person to change moods quickly, and this is a cause of concern. It also leads to a feeling of disconnection for these relationships.
How Does Our Emotional State Affect Sleep?
Sleep and emotions have a symbiotic relationship with each other. The brain is responsible for helping you sleep. In many cases, it is also the reason for sleeplessness. Lack of sleep and negative emotions can wind up in a vicious circle.
Here are some of the emotional factors that can affect your sleep:
Stress is a normal thing, and all of us are exposed to it. Excessive stress, however, leads to high levels of the hormones adrenaline and cortisol. This leads to chronic sleep deprivation if it happens regularly.
High levels of these hormones in the body can lead to a heightened state of alertness. While this might seem like a good thing – there are indeed times when we all need to be alert (espresso, anyone?!) – this state also means that the brain can go on overdrive with many thoughts. These thoughts make it much more difficult to sleep, especially if they are of a negative type.
Your moods are caused by the release of chemicals called neurotransmitters in your brain. These chemicals also have other effects aside from causing moods and emotions to come out. Some neurotransmitters, for example, can trigger an energy boost. Other neurotransmitters can cause a person’s level of alertness to fluctuate.
This is the reason why maintaining a healthy mood is vital, particularly leading up bedtime. The kind of neurotransmitters that are released in relation to these moods can help promote or hinder sleep.
Negative Events & Negative Emotions
We mentioned earlier that mood has a significant impact on sleep. It is essential to look at the factors that affect our mood. These factors can affect rest, so it is necessary to avoid the ones that are harmful.
If we want to keep negative emotions away, we need to learn to let go. Keeping a mindset that the next day will be better always helps. Thinking positive and knowing that you are capable of coping with problems is a great way to think. Try doing these and see the wonders that it can do to your sleep.
If you find this challenging, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Consulting with a counselor could improve your sleep. We’ll talk more about that later.
How Do We Know Whether Our Emotional State Is Affecting Our Sleep?
Many of us can constantly be sleep-deprived and not know why. Emotional state is definitely one of the factors that can contribute to these. There are many signs to watch out for if you think that your emotional state leads to sleeplessness. These signs can occur to you at any time of the day. Here are four signs that you should watch out for:
Dwelling on Negative Emotions
Many people tend to dwell on the bad things that happen during the day. These events can severely impact the emotional state that a person has. More often than not, these negative events will cause changes in mood. Keeping these events in our thoughts before bedtime can lead to sleeplessness.
If you keep replaying all your worries and anxieties before bed, then you will most likely suffer a poor night’s sleep. Bedtime anxieties cannot be always prevented; there are just some days that are so bad that they become tough to get over. On such days we need to make sure to avoid excessive dwelling. A day of sleeplessness due to anxiety is normal, but not when it happens constantly.
Like what we said earlier, learning to let go is a vital skill. We can train our brains to think that “it gets better” (something which over time we will begin to accept as fact). Our mindset will dictate the kind of sleep that we get.
Low Energy During the Day
Bouts of low energy are common. Work can sometimes get too tiring after all. Sleeplessness, however, can lead to consistently low energy during the day. Do coffee and energy drinks help? They may bring temporarily relief, but their effect is fleeting and can even be negative. Caffeine and other chemicals can cause our energy levels to crash, especially on those “bad” days.
Do you notice that this is the case? Try keeping a sleep diary.
- Track the amount of sleep that you get every night and note your mood before bed
- Log the energy you have the following day
- Write all of these down in a sleep diary
This can help you see if you have sleeping problems stemming from emotional state. You may notice a trend of negative moods leading to low energy levels the day after. If this is the case, then it may be your emotional state that affects your sleep.
Bouts of Wakefulness in the Middle of the Night
Sometimes we have enough sleep (in terms of quantity) but still have no energy the following day. It is important to note that it is not just the amount of sleep that matters. Quality of sleep also plays a big role. We need to go through all the stages of sleep to be well-rested the following day. This is impossible if one keeps waking up in the middle of the night, because constant interruptions cause fragmented sleep.
If you are keeping a sleep diary, try also to take note of how often you wake up. Tracking your bouts of wakefulness can help you know if you have a poor sleep. Again, make sure you note down your mood before bed.
Frequent Bad Dreams & Nightmares
It is normal to have bad dreams and nightmares once in a while. Having these regularly can be a sign of an underlying problem. Night terrors rarely have significant long-term effects, but can frequently lead to sleep deprivation.
Our thoughts and emotional state before bedtime can affect the quality of the dreams we will have.
Clear your mind of negative thoughts before sleep, through meditation or other proven techniques. Focusing on positive things can also help.
Get Counseling for Sleep Issues Before They Get Out of Hand
Your emotions may be causing your sleep deprivation. Seeing a qualified counselor can help alleviate these sleep issues.
Capital Choice Counselling has professionals that are highly experienced in dealing with problems that lead to sleep deprivation. Contact us today. to find out more and make an appointment.