How does insomnia affect our mood?

Insufficient sleep can exacerbate mental health problems such as stress, anxiety, depression and stress. So what can we do about it for a better mood?

8 mins read
How does lack of sleep affect our mood?

Insomnia, one of the biggest problems of our age, affects the quality of life of many people. Some people can fall asleep as soon as their head hits the pillow, but others are not as lucky. Like Emily, who spoke to The New York Times.

Emily had just moved to New York to start work at a large law firm after graduate school, and she was slightly anxious. She knew it was normal to feel a little nervous like this, but she wasn’t ready for the chronic insomnia that would follow.

Since she was working on only 3-4 hours of sleep, her anxiety increased day by day. She was 25 years old and felt constantly on edge.

One day, one of the lawyers at his firm yelled at him and he experienced the first of many panic attacks that would follow. On the advice of her doctor, she started taking sleeping pills in the hope that they would reset her sleep cycle and improve her mood, but to no avail.

She was so worried about not being able to sleep that she didn’t even want to go to bed, but eventually, thanks to the cognitive behavioral therapy methods in Gregg D. Jacobs’ book, she reshaped the way she thought about sleep.

She started writing her negative thoughts in a diary and then replacing them with positive thoughts. For example: “What if I never sleep again?” “Your body is made for sleep. If you don’t get enough rest one night, eventually you will.” These exercises helped her a lot. When she started to sleep again, she felt “much happier”.

Now, at 43, almost 20 years after moving to New York, she still relies on the techniques she learned. If he doesn’t sleep well away from home, he’s okay with it and is much more relaxed about it now.

Americans are chronically sleep deprived


How does lack of sleep affect our mood?

In the United States, a third of adults say they get less than 7 hours of sleep. The situation for young people is even worse. Nearly 70 percent of high school students don’t get enough sleep during the week, and this has a profound impact on mental health.

An analysis of 19 studies found that sleep deprivation worsened people’s ability to think or perform certain tasks, with a greater negative impact on mental health.

In a 2022 survey conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, half of those who said they got less than 7 hours of sleep each weekday also said they had depressive symptoms.

Some research even shows that addressing insomnia can help prevent postpartum depression and anxiety.

But how does it affect our mental health if we don’t get enough sleep?

Sleep researcher Aric Prather, who treats patients with insomnia at the University of California, San Francisco, said that when people have trouble sleeping, it can even affect how they experience stress and negative emotions. Insomnia can also trigger feelings of not feeling well at night, being brooding and feeling more stressed in some people.

Carly Demler, a 40-year-old mother living in North Carolina, said that one night she went to bed and didn’t sleep at all, and from then on, several times a week, she couldn’t sleep until 3 or 4 in the morning, and this had been going on for more than a year.

A sleep study with hormone and blood tests in a university laboratory yielded no results. She started taking sleeping pills, but even after taking them, she spent most of the night awake. “It was like my anxiety was like a fire that somehow broke through the fence and spread into my nights. I felt out of control,” she said.

In the end, Demler found relief thanks to cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia. CBT is a more effective solution than sleeping pills in the long run. In 80 percent of the people who tried it, sleep problems improved.

Now I wake up better rested every morning, which was an unexpected ray of hope for me.” Instead of lying in bed waiting to fall asleep, Demler gets up, reads a book and goes back to bed when she is tired, so as not to associate the bedroom with anxiety.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night. Teenagers and young children need even more.

In fact, it’s not just about the duration, the quality of sleep is also important. For example, if it takes you more than 30 minutes to fall asleep or if you regularly wake up in the middle of the night, it’s harder to feel rested, regardless of the amount of time you spend in bed.

Lynn Bufka, a clinical psychologist and spokesperson for the American Psychological Association, said that some people think they tend to think they are functioning well even if they are sleepy or have difficulty focusing during the day.

How does lack of sleep affect our mood?

How do you feel during the day?

Do you feel more impatient, more irritable, more anxious or depressed? Do you find it difficult to do your work efficiently? If so, it is time to take action…

Sleep hygiene promotes healthy sleep and improves sleep quality. If you are having trouble sleeping, you should talk to your doctor to rule out any physical problems, such as a thyroid disorder or restless leg syndrome, but this is only part of the solution.

Conditions such as anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and bipolar disorder can make sleep difficult. Some medications, including psychiatric drugs such as antidepressants, can cause insomnia.

Dr. Ramaswamy Viswanathan, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Downstate Health at the State University of New York, advises that if a medication is to blame for insomnia, talk to your doctor about switching to a different medication, taking it earlier in the day or reducing the dose.

This cycle, where worries worsen sleep and lack of sleep worsens mood, can also affect those without mental health problems.


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