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How Your Sleep Habits Are Deteriorating Your Mental Health


Do you feel groggy and lethargic throughout the day? Do you feel sleepy during afternoon meetings? Do you feel tired all the time? Chances are you might not be getting the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep.

Challenges in our daily life can keep us from getting a good night’s sleep. It could be due to pending work, children crying in the house, high noise levels in your neighbourhood or it could just be the worries of the future that could be hindering your sleep and mental wellbeing.

Sleep Deprivation is often dismissed as insignificant which causes one to overlook its consequences. However, if you’ve woken up with just 3-4 hours of sleep you know what I’m talking about. The lethargy, irritability and grogginess is something evident the next day. In the short term, we may dismiss the thought of sleep deprivation with a cup of coffee but in the long term, such lack of sleep catches upon us by affecting our physical and mental wellbeing. 

Studies have linked sleep deprivation with a range of health problems including diabetes, heart disease and premature ageing. Sleep enables the creation of memories, influences our mood and emotional reactivity which is closely associated with mental health. 

Sleep and Mental Health have a bi-directional relationship meaning that sleeping problems can be both a cause and consequence of mental health problems. Disturbed Sleep often creates a negative feedback loop where a person who can’t sleep properly often experiences an increase in the severity of mental disorders which consequently affects the quality of sleep furthermore. Patients with mental health disorders are also more likely to have sleeping disorders.

Below are some mental health disorders that are closely linked with sleeping problems.


Depression is a mood disorder that causes a feeling of sadness and hopelessness. Sleep problems are often linked with depression as sleep significantly affects mood. Hence, sleep affects the severity of depression and the severity of depression, in turn, affects the quality of sleep. Common Symptoms of Depression are: 

  1. Feelings of Hopelessness
  2. Increased Fatigue
  3. Insomnia or Sleeping Problems
  4. Irritability/ Mood Swings/ Apathy
  5. Loss of Interest

Treating sleep problems using pharmacological medicines and alternative remedies alleviates depression for most patients. However, if underlying sleep problems aren't treated from their roots, upon discontinuing antidepressants, patients are likely to experience symptoms of depression again. 

Anxiety & Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Anxiety Disorders have a strong association with sleep problems. Individuals with anxiety often experience hyperarousal during bedtime, which compromises sleep quality and causes insomnia and sleep deprivation. Anticipatory anxiety due to recurring sleep problems may also cause one to worry as and when bedtime approaches, further worsening sleep quality. Symptoms of Anxiety include: 

  1. Restlessness
  2. Irritability
  3. Excessive Worrying
  4. Panic Attacks
  5. Racing & Unwanted Thoughts

A study found that acute sleep deprivation led to an increase in anxiety and distress levels in healthy adults. So, skipping that extra hour of shut-eye might cause you to become more agitated and anxious. Another research found that sleep disruption can maintain or further exacerbate anxiety for individuals who are at high risk for it. 

Researchers have also found a strong relationship between PTSD and sleep. PTSD patients frequently replay negative events that might have occurred in the past in their minds and also experience recurring nightmares which interfere with their daily sleep. 

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder consists of episodes of extreme moods that can be categorized into either mania (hyperarousal) or depression (hypo arousal). People with bipolar disorder experience considerable changes in sleep patterns depending upon their emotional state. Where during a manic episode an individual may find it difficult, if not impossible, to get some sleep whereas, on the other hand, such a person may sleep excessively when experiencing a depressive episode. Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder include: 

  1. Low energy & motivation
  2. Mood Swings
  3. Loss of touch with reality
  4. Irritability
  5. Lack of Concentration

There's also evidence that suggests that sleep problems induce or worsen manic and depressive episodes. Due to its two-way relationship, treating any existing sleep disorder can reduce the severity of the bipolar disorder. 

Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) 

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is characterized by reduced attention span, increased impulsiveness and hyperactivity. Sleep is an activity that requires focus to relax and unwind. Due to symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity falling asleep can become difficult for people with ADHD, which can contribute to daytime sleepiness and reduced attention span as a result of sleep deprivation. Studies have shown that 25-55% of children having ADHD experience frequent sleep disturbances. Symptoms of ADHD/ADD include: 

  1. Inability to concentrate
  2. Impulsivity
  3. Extreme restlessness
  4. Learning Difficulties

The relation between sleep and ADHD is bi-directional like other psychological disorders. Sleep interventions have shown to alleviate the severity of ADHD in addition to improving quality of life. Getting proper sleep can improve memory functioning, mood-related impulsivity and attention span issues. 

Autism Spectrum Disorder 

Autism Spectrum Disorder is a complex developmental disorder that affects communication and social interaction which creates persistent challenges in daily conversations. Researchers have found a higher prevalence rate of sleep problems among children and adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder. 

Sleep is of utmost importance here as it can contribute to an exacerbation of symptoms and affect the quality of life for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Addressing sleep problems can improve behavioral problems in autism and can help remove daytime sleepiness. 

How to Improve Sleep Quality? 

While fixing severe sleep problems such as insomnia, sleep apnea, narcolepsy might require a visit to your doctor. Mild sleep problems can be fixed by:

  1. Developing proper sleep hygiene such as dimming the lights and making your bed
  2. Sleeping and waking up at the same time
  3. Avoiding stimulants and alcohol near bedtime
  4. Reducing screen time before bed
  5. Practicing relaxation before sleeping

HappiMynd’s helps you diagnose mental health problems on the go with the help of its self-diagnosis application backed by top-level certified psychologists. 

Sleep is a process where the body restores and heals. Missing out on proper shut-eye can hamper this process, which can affect the way we think and feel daily. Recurring sleep deprivation might become difficult to recognize for the person experiencing it as the symptoms may seem normal due to accumulated periods of sleep debts. Thus, seeking early diagnosis when symptoms show up can help in taking timely action.