Sleep is an essential function that helps the body and mind to recharge, keeps us active throughout the day, and helps us maintain focus. Sleep runs on a cycle known as circadian rhythm, which is a 24-hour cycle. Given the nature of the work we engage in, our relationships, and other commitments, we forget to catch up on our sleep at times.
Insufficient sleep may have negative effects on our mental health. In taking care of our loved ones, we must remember to take care of ourselves. Getting enough sleep is a vital part of our self-care.
Most adults need about 7-9 hours of sleep a night, but life can sometimes get in the way of us getting the recommended hours. According to research, there are differences in the length of sleep one requires, but the general consensus remains that it's vital for our well-being.
Benefits of Sleep
Sleep deprivation can occur when one doesn't get enough sleep on a consistent basis.
That can lead to increased irritability, lack of concentration, difficulty in maintaining conversations, and forgetfulness. For hundreds of years, the effects of lack of sleep has been studied. You don't have to be a scientist to understand how important sleep is for your mental health.
Six mental health benefits of sleep are:
1) Improves Learning Ability
In one study, two groups were introduced to a new language. One group was introduced right before they slept, and the other during the daytime. The ones who slept immediately after learning new material learned the language quicker than the ones who learnt it in the daytime. We are more likely to retain and recall information if we have a undisturbed sleep routine.
2) Boosts Mood
The proverb 'getting up on the right side of bed' has some merit. Sleeping can result in positive sentiments, regardless of which side of the bed you get out of, which makes sense.
You feel rested when you get a good night's sleep. Your energy levels surge if you get enough sleep. Life's minor inconveniences won't upset you as much when your energy level is high. You're not as angry when you're not irritated. If you are not furious, you are happy. So get a headstart on bedtime, and those around you will appreciate it.
3) Improves Productivity
Burning the midnight oil may make you feel like you're impressing your boss, but it may be hurting your performance at work or school. In reality, sleep has been connected to increased cognitive performance and better concentration, both of which can help you succeed at work.
However, a single sleepless night might leave you feeling stressed and increase your likelihood of making errors that a cup of coffee won't be able to correct. Speaking of coffee, you're more likely to have an afternoon cup if you're feeling fatigued. While doing so may appear to solve your afternoon sleep issue, consuming more coffee later in the day can result in a night of insomnia.
4) Boosts Relationships
It goes without saying that having sufficient sleep can help you stay in a happy frame of mind, while having a bad night's sleep might can make you grumpy. Additionally, the people around you are likely to notice when you're feeling happy.
Your language, reasoning, and communication skills—all important skills when forming relationships with others—can be impacted by how much sleep you get. Lack of sleep can make it more difficult to manage your emotions and interact with other people, which can result in conflict.
However, getting adequate sleep can support your ability to control your emotions, communicate effectively with others, and uphold healthy interpersonal bonds.
5) Improves Attention
Your reaction time typically slows down when you are sleep-deprived. Additionally, you're more prone to act impulsively, become angry or agitated, feel apprehensive, or behave in an unpredictable manner. However, your fundamental sensory functions—namely, your vision and hearing—remain largely unaltered.
The ability to focus on a single 'object' (like traffic or a coworker) while being able to 'ignore' or focus less on other things is known as attention (such as the car stereo or phone notifications).
Lack of sleep interferes with our ability to deal with high perceptual load (huge volumes of information). It interferes with functional connectivity between different brain regions, according to a 2015 study.
6) Improves Creativity
Have you ever been stuck with a problem for so long that you decide to sleep on it?
Sleep promotes creativity by enabling the brain to reset and reevaluate issues. The particular mechanism by which this occurs is not well understood, just like the connection between sleep and memory. You can, however, be rest assured that the old expression 'sleep on it' holds a lot of merit.
Maintaining a regular schedule can help increase the amount and quality of sleep you get each night. It's crucial to maintain consistency to minimize disruption to the rhythm, which may lead to melatonin disturbance.
In other words, sleep is essential for keeping the brain in top shape. The brain is still exposed to the same quantity of information while you are sleep deprived as it is when you are refreshed. It appears that the brain's ability to effectively digest all that information can change following a night of bad sleep.
Janvi Kapur is a counselor with a Master's degree in applied psychology with a specialization in clinical psychology.