lack of sleep

How the lack of sleep can deplete emotional health

Getting a good night’s sleep is not only essential when it comes to resting and recharging our batteries, but having a proper sleep routine can help to maintain better emotional health. Not only does this mean sleeping for an adequate amount of time is needed to replenish the body’s vital systems, but other important systems can be affected by sleeping patterns. Inconsistent sleep and irregular bedtimes can disrupt the rest that is needed for our body and mind.

Most experts agree that a healthy night’s sleep for an average adult consists of going to bed around the same time every night and getting between 7 and 9 hours of sleep. Not only does this help with the physical repair and regeneration of organs, cells, and muscles but it supports the body’s circadian rhythms – the mechanism that governs the sleep/wake cycle.

Many biological functions occur while we are asleep, and without it there can be serious consequences. We spend almost a third of our lives sleeping and not getting enough can leave us feeling tired or having a lack of concentration. Hallucinations can be caused by extreme sleep deprivation which indicates just how necessary it is to maintain good sleeping habits. As sleep is an essential part of our physical and mental rejuvenation it is needed to support good health.

A lack of sleep depletes essential repair and rejuvenation processes and can impact a person’s overall wellbeing very quickly. This leads to a weakening of the immune system and can leave more opportunity for infection and illness to invade. Not getting enough sleep reduces the ability to regulate and stabilise emotional responses and can cause overreactions to everyday situations. 

Research shows that sleep is heavily linked to mental and emotional health issues and even though the exact purpose and processes that happen while we sleep are not fully understood, it is known that sleep is vital for maintaining normal daily living. 

The sleep cycle

While we sleep our brain stores new information and in a sense, uploads it to our long term memory banks. Things that are unneeded or toxic are removed, and nerve cells reorganise and communicate to support healthy brain function. Energy is restored and our system releases important proteins and hormones while repairing cells. 

A normal nightly sleeping pattern moves through 5 phases. While we sleep we pass through all of the five phases, which are: 

  • Stages 1, 2, 3, 4, and 
  • REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. 

The stages of sleep move through the cycle starting from from stage 1 and progressing through each stage to REM sleep. Then the cycle begins all over again returning to stage 1 and can repeat several times a night.  

Each stage has its own significance with stage 1 being the point where we are ‘falling asleep’ and starting to relax and unwind. At stage 2 the eyes stop moving and brain function decreases. Brain waves slow down even more noticeably in stages 3 and 4, and we are in ‘deep sleep’ this is the stage that it is quite difficult to wake from and you may feel disoriented or groggy if awoken at this point. Finally REM sleep is where some muscle activity and eye movement returns, it is during this stage that we experience dreams or sleep walking.

How sleep affects physical health

Along with supporting good brain function and regenerating the physical self, having the right amount of sleep can prevent a number of serious illnesses. Having an inadequate amount of sleep over an extended period of time can actually shorten life expectancy. It can also mean that you are more at risk of developing long term conditions like diabetes and heart disease. 

Staying fit and active is always recommended to maintain health and vitality, but poor sleeping patterns have a link to obesity. Less sleep means an increased likelihood to gain weight and sleep deprivation typically means that caloric intake is higher throughout the day. Studies have shown that there is a strong connection between poor sleep and weight gain. 

In addition, weight gain can exacerbate sleep apnoea, this condition causes a person to stop breathing for seconds at a time while they are asleep, disrupting the normal patterns of nightly sleep. A higher incidence of sleep apnoea is prevalent in those who are overweight, and disrupted sleep is linked to weight gain, creating a cycle of low sleep and weight issues. 

How sleep affects emotional health

In the same way that sleep is crucial to maintain robust physical health, emotional health also benefits from good sleep patterns and routines. Sleep affects many areas of the brain that governs things such as decision making, memory, and creative thinking along with helping to maintain levels of focus and concentration. 

Those that suffer from sleep disturbances or irregular sleep patterns are more susceptible to a whole slew of emotional issues. Not only can the lack of sleep increase the risk of things like depression and anxiety, it can also be responsible for impairing cognitive function.

Not enough sleep can trigger a wide range of problems including things such as:

  • Fogginess
  • Lack of focus
  • Slow thought process
  • Judgement impairment
  • Incorrect response selection
  • Memory problems or forgetfulness
  • Problems learning or retaining information
  • Slow reaction times
  • Fatigue
  • Lowered immune system
  • Poor coping mechanisms

With the long list of items that can stem from lack of sleep it is easy to see why getting enough is so important. Those with difficult or demanding jobs rely on the restorative properties that a good night’s sleep provides to be able to perform their role adequately. The toll on work and home life is quickly evident when suffering from irregular or insufficient sleep. Keeping to a regular sleep pattern will help to maintain physical energy levels and keep performance levels high, while reducing the risk of issues that arise from poor judgement or cognitive impairment.

Managing emotional health issues 

Emotional symptoms arising from poor sleep can have long term impacts. JBE Health provides expert training to help manage the issues that come from damaged emotional health. My seminars have been delivered to companies and employees in all industries that can benefit from learning emotional health management techniques. 

A large proportion of course attendees say that they would recommend my seminars to a friend or colleague, and many companies report long term gains like improved productivity and better attendance. Reducing sick days can be a by-product of using effective techniques to manage emotional health reponses, and improvements in communication are often apparent. 

I share proven methods and strategies to help ward off and avoid negative coping mechanisms. Not sleeping well is one of the causes and indicators of emotional health struggles and I suggest ways to combat this and other causes that can deplete positive emotional health. Along with onsite seminars for your team I provide a taster session of my  well received Happiness Programme to offer a taste and feel of the kind of course content that is provided. Show your teams and employees that you are committed to maintaining positive emotional health within your workforce and improve employee-management relations. 

Schedule your Happiness Programme Taster Session today!

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About the Author

Jon is a highly experienced wellbeing specialist, trainer and clinician who helps busy, overwhelmed people to boost joy, bounce-back-ability and performance in and outside of work.