Sleep and mental health


We have all heard about the effects of our sleeping patterns on our physical health. There are countless research studies and surveys to back it all up. What there is less circulating and widespread information on, however, is the effect our sleeping patterns have on our mental health. The way that we sleep has a significant impact on our mentality. This is especially true if we have fractured sleeping patterns. When our biological clocks are programmed to wake us up nice and early in time for the big day ahead (especially throughout the typical working week), there are links to greater levels of happiness and a lower risk of schizophrenia and depression (among other mental health struggles).

And that is only the beginning, just the first brush of the surface of this global problem. One recent study in particular catalogued 250,000 research participants (a staggering quarter of a million people) that signed up to the private genetics company. The participants were asked if they were an early bird or a night owl. After this information was gathered, the participants’ genomes were analyzed. This revealed specific genes that individuals had in common that appeared to influence sleeping patterns. This is just one instance where scientists have discovered that fragmented sleeping patterns – even if of a standard duration of seven to nine hours – increased the risk of damage to cognitive and emotional functions.

In another recent research study, participants were asked about their sleeping patterns and then put through a series of tests. One of these tests consisted of the participants pushing a button to stop a video when they felt the person in the video was getting too close to them. The sleep-deprived participants kept a distance of up to 60% further away from the subject in the video than the participants who reported having sound sleep. Their brains were also scanned using MRI to measure neural activity associated with the social distances being adhered to. These scans showed that the sleep-deprived participants had more activity happening in the brain areas linked with social awkwardness and interaction.

These parts of the brain typically light up when a person feels like their personal space is being invaded. We feel more mentally isolated when we are tired, and we are significantly less social when we are sleep deprived. This makes it difficult for us to interact with others and achieve the kind of social interaction that helps with stable mentality. So, what to the results of all these studies tell us? Maintaining a healthy sleeping pattern is of the utmost importance to mental stability. Who knows, perhaps all the necessary switch needs is a change of mattress. So, do your research, and if your mattress feels uncomfortable, consider making a change. It could literally change your life. And if you are stuck in your search for the perfect mattress? Visit Sleep Junkie for more information. Of course, if the mattress does not prove to be the problem, reaching out to a medical professional is the best step forward.