In a nutshell, sleep deprivation is caused by consistent lack of sleep or reduced quality of sleep. Most people know firsthand that sleep affects their mental state. After all, there is a reason it is said that someone in a bad mood “woke up on the wrong side of the bed.”

According to estimates, it is believed that approximately 33% of the world’s population suffer from sleep deprivation. Insufficient sleep may have a negative effect on one’s health including mental health and wellbeing, getting enough sleep is a vital part of self-care. Most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep, but life responsibilities can get in the way of getting the recommended hours of quality sleep.

Research suggests that the relationship between sleep and mental health is complex. While sleep has long been known to be a consequence of many psychiatric conditions, more recent reviews suggest that sleep can also play a casual role in both the development and maintenance of different mental health problems.

Brain activity fluctuates during sleep, increasing and decreasing during different sleep stages that make up the sleep cycle. In NREM (non-rapid eye movement) sleep, overall brain activity slows, but there are quick bursts of energy. In REM sleep, brain activity picks up rapidly, which is why this stage is associated with more intense dreaming.

Each stage plays a role in brain health, allowing activity in different parts of the brain to ramp up or down and enabling better thinking, learning, and memory. Research has also uncovered that brain activity during sleep has profound effects on emotional and mental health.

Sufficient sleep, especially REM sleep, facilitates the brain’s processing of emotional information. During sleep, the brain works to evaluate and remember thoughts and memories, and it appears that a lack of sleep is especially harmful to the consolidation of positive emotional content. This can influence mood and emotional reactivity and is tied to mental health disorders and their severity, including the risk of suicidal ideas or behaviors.

Sleep deprivation can leave you feeling irritable and exhausted for short term but it can have long term health consequences as well. Insufficient sleep can make it much more difficult to cope with relatively minor stress, daily challenges can turn to major source of frustration. Your body needs sleep just as much as it needs food and oxygen to function at its best.

Treating sleep deprivation is obviously an important way to help improve psychological health and the possibility that such treatment may also be an effective tool for preventing or even treating mental health problems. While more research is needed to learn more about the effectiveness of treatments, there is some evidence that treatment that focuses on sleep improvements can relieve some mental health symptoms.

In addition to seeking professional help, there are also steps you can take on your own to improve your sleep and well-being.

Tips to create healthy enough sleep:

  • Avoid sleep interrupters such as caffeine, nicotine and alcohol.
  • Limit napping- Too much sleep during the day can have an effect on your ability to fall asleep at night. Naps of 20_30 minutes a day can help you feel more alert and rested without interrupting your nightly sleep.
  • Establish a calm night routine -Stick to a set of habits that help you prepare for rest each night. eg taking a bath , Reading a book, Meditating
  • Turn off your device 1-2 hours before sleep.

Barry Krakow said “You are putting energy in the bank when you go to sleep.” Sleep is never a luxury. So in the hassles and bustles of life , remember to have your 7-9 hours of enough quality sleep.

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By  Rhoda Wanjiru Mwangi.

Hospital Psychologist,

Chiromo Hospital Group




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