The Relationship Between Sleep and Mental Health Update 07/2024

Many people around the world suffer from insomnia. Around a third of the world’s population is estimated to have been afflicted. It’s common for even those who don’t suffer from long-term insomnia to have sleep issues. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one-third of adults in the United States sleep less than seven hours every night. Sleep deprivation can harm your physical and mental health, so it’s vital that you understand the risks.

Key points about sleep and mental health

  1. A lack of quality sleep might increase a person’s mental health problems.
  2. Depression and anxiety can be aggravated by a lack of sleep or poor quality of sleep.
  3. Mental illness can make it difficult to get a good night’s sleep, which can lead to a condition like insomnia.
  4. Learning how to sleep better is critical for all of these reasons.
  5. If you’re in need of assistance, there are many options available to you.
  6. Mental illness can be alleviated or prevented by improving the quality of your sleep.

The Relationship Between Sleep and Mental Health

To maintain both physical and emotional health, getting enough shut-eye is vital. In the short term, sleep deprivation can make you irritable and tired, but in the long term, it can have serious health consequences. A lack of sleep has been associated with heart disease, diabetes, and depression.

There is a link between sleep problems and mental health concerns such as depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder.

Research suggests that sleep and mental health are intertwined. Many mental health conditions are associated with sleep disorders, and new research suggests that sleep may also play a role in their origin and progression..

Having trouble sleeping has been shown to be associated with a variety of mental health concerns, including depression and anxiety. In some cases, sleep deprivation may contribute to mental health concerns, but researchers don’t know why. Seeing a doctor about your sleep patterns and mental health is critical if you’re having difficulties sleeping or staying asleep.


Getting through the day after a night of tossing and turning is challenging for those who have suffered from sleep deprivation. Mood swings, such as a rise in fury and impatience, can make it difficult to deal with the minor obstacles of daily life.

A lack of sleep can make even the tiniest of stresses far more difficult to handle. On a daily basis, there are numerous things that can make us upset. In the midst of daily irritations, you may find yourself angry, impatient and short-tempered. Lack of rest is enough to make you feel anxious. As important as sleep is, you may fear that you won’t be able to fall asleep or stay asleep at night because of your hectic schedule.


New research reveals that sleep deprivation may be the core cause of depressive symptoms, such as insomnia and other sleep disorders, which are frequent.

According to an analysis of 21 research, insomniacs are twice as likely as non-insomniacs to experience depression. The next question is whether or not enhancing a person’s quality of sleep can lessen their likelihood of suffering from depression.

Research is needed, however, some experts feel that treating sleeplessness early in childhood may be an effective method of reducing the chance of developing depression.

Sleep disorder treatment has been shown to be an important step in improving mental health, and the idea that such treatments may also be an effective method for avoiding or treating mental health disorders is promising.

Sleep deprivation has been linked to feelings of melancholy, worry, and paranoia in more than 3,700 people, according to a new study. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) was administered to some participants, while others received no treatment at all for their sleepiness. Symptoms of depression, anxiety, and paranoia, as well as nightmares, were reduced with CBT treatment. Their general well-being improved as a result of their ability to function at home and in the workplace.


There appears to be a reciprocal relationship between sleep deprivation and anxiety, as is the case with many other such relationships. A lack of sleep can increase the symptoms of anxiety in those who are already suffering from the condition. As a result, sleep deprivation and anxiety may become worsened.

Insomnia is also a risk factor for developing an anxiety condition. The prevalence of anxiety disorders among adolescents and teenagers, particularly those between the ages of 9 and 16, has been linked to sleep problems in one study. When insomnia is left untreated for an extended period of time, anxiety problems are more likely to develop.

When you’re sleep-deprived, it’s more difficult to cope with anxiety. Consequently, sleep deprivation can worsen the symptoms of anxiety disorders. For those who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, sleep deprivation may play a role in the development and evolution of the illness, which affects up to 90% of persons.

Even the healthiest people can suffer from sleep deprivation, which has a negative effect on their mental health. One study found that healthy adults who were sleep-deprived experienced higher levels of anxiety and discomfort. A lack of sleep might make you feel irritated and unhappy, even if you don’t normally feel that way.

Bipolar Disorder

Sleep disturbances are more common in those with bipolar disorder. Nightmares and insomnia are two of the most prevalent symptoms of a sleeping condition. One of the most prevalent signs of bipolar disorder is a person’s mood swinging between depression and euphoria.

In addition to being a symptom of the condition, sleep disturbances can have an impact on the course of the illness, the effectiveness of treatment, and the overall health of patients.

A lack of sleep might set off episodes of manic or hypomanic behavior. It has been estimated that anywhere from 25% to 65% of patients with bipolar disorder have experienced changes in their normal sleep/wake rhythm before the onset of a manic episode. If you’re having difficulties sleeping as a result of bipolar disorder, see your doctor.


More than five percent of children between the ages of six and 17 are diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a common mental illness. Sleep deprivation has been connected to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and some research suggests that sleep abnormalities may contribute to ADHD’s symptoms. Between 25% and 55% of children with ADHD experience sleep problems, according to research.

Because of this, children with ADHD may have problems falling asleep or staying asleep, as well as issues waking up in the middle of the night and daytime sleepiness.

As the first step in ADHD treatment, a review of the patient’s current sleep habits and patterns is common. A number of studies have shown that sleep interventions can reduce the symptoms and quality of life associated with ADHD.

How does CBT for insomnia work?

The treatment’s primary goals are to teach patients about sleep and to alter their behavior and cognition.

Learning about good sleep hygiene, such as limiting daytime naps and abstaining from caffeine usage in the evening, is essential for people to know.

The following are a few of the techniques employed:

  • For those who need less sleep, cutting back on the amount of time they spend in bed.
  • Restricting the bedroom only to sexual or restful activities is an example of stimuli control. Getting up after 15–20 minutes of sleep is also an example.
  • In bed, you can relax your muscles by tensing and relaxing them or simply focusing on your breath.

Students can choose from a variety of cognitive strategies.

  • Before retiring to bed, it’s a good idea to take some time to ruminate over the events of the day.
  • Motives at odds with one another or the need to stay awake.
  • In order to alter one’s sleep outlook, it is necessary to confront one’s irrational sleep expectations.
  • acknowledging and then letting go of one’s thoughts and emotions.
  • notions of joy and happiness that require a person’s imagination to generate.

What causes problems with sleep?

A range of factors, some of which are specific to each person, influence the quality of sleep that each of us gets. As an example:

  • financial, housing or work-related worries might cause stress.
  • A problem with sleeping — for example, is because you sleep somewhere unpleasant or are prone to be disturbed.
  • difficulties falling or staying asleep, such as restless leg syndrome or snoring while sleeping.
  • child-rearing, as opposed to raising oneself.
  • regardless of whether or whether the medication is new or old.
  • Pleasure-seeking drug and alcohol abuse.
  • work that requires a night or day shift.
  • adversity, whether recent or historical.
  • Some of them can affect your capacity to sleep, such as mental and physical concerns.

For additional information on sleep disorders and our list of helpful resources, visit the websites of the Mental Health Foundation and the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

Ways To Improve Both Sleep and Mental Health

People who suffer from mental illnesses such as anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder may find it difficult to get a decent night’s sleep. It is possible to treat both sleep disorders and mental health issues at the same time because of the many dimensions of this connection. Even as a preventative measure for mental illness, improving one’s quality of sleep is an excellent place to start.

Each person’s health and sleeping concerns are unique, so their therapy must be too. Working with a trained health professional is vital for one’s health and well-being.

Doctors and psychiatrists can examine a wide range of treatment choices, including prescription medications. Even if there are co-occurring physical or mental health concerns, they are able to provide tailored care. The detection and treatment of diseases like obstructive sleep apnoea, for example, can help one’s mental health.

The next sections detail a few treatment methods that may help with sleep and mental well-being.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is often referred to as “talk therapy” (CBT). If one studies one’s own thinking patterns, it is hoped that new ways of constructing negative thoughts can be discovered.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can be used to treat depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder (CBT). In addition, CBT for insomnia (CBT-I) has a proven track record of helping people sleep better. Several large clinical trials have demonstrated the effectiveness of CBT-I in treating a wide spectrum of mental health issues by reducing psychotic episodes and enhancing emotional stability.

When it comes to sleep and mental health, research is still ongoing, but many patients can benefit from a competent counselor’s ability to reframe their thinking.

Improve Sleep Habits

When it comes to sleeping problems, poor sleep hygiene is a major culprit in many cases. Excellent sleep hygiene can be improved by adopting good sleeping habits and creating an environment that fosters slumber.

A better night’s sleep can be gained by following these steps:

  • A consistent bedtime routine will help you get a better night’s sleep.
  • As a matter of routine, meditating or practicing yoga before bed is a good way to unwind.
  • Abstaining from alcoholic beverages, smoking, and caffeine at night.
  • Lights should be turned down and electronic devices put away at least an hour before bedtime.
  • In the afternoon, exercise and expose oneself to the sun.
  • Get the most out of your mattress, pillows, and bedding.
  • Sleep problems can be avoided by blocking out bright light and loud noise.

If you’re having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, try experimenting with different sleeping habits and arrangements to see what works best for you. It will be worth the effort in the long run.


Treating sleep disorders is generally the same regardless of whether or not you have a mental illness. The first stages in therapy are typically centered on small adjustments to a person’s daily routine that can improve their quality of sleep. Avoiding sleep disruptors (such as caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol) and establishing regular sleep schedules will help you get a better night’s sleep.

It is possible to improve your health and well-being without the help of a doctor. Maintaining proper sleep hygiene or engaging in sleep-promoting activities is critical if you want to stay alert during the day.

To help you get started, here are a few suggestions:

  • Don’t overdo it with the snoozes. Lack of sleep may impair your capacity to sleep at night and keep you awake. A 20- to 30-minute nap a day will assist if you’re feeling drowsy and sluggish.
  • Keep a nightly routine in place. Establish a nightly ritual that aids in your relaxation. It’s possible to unwind your body and mind by doing things like taking a bath, reading, or meditating. Repeat these nighttime rituals to ensure a good night’s sleep.
  • Caffeine and other stimulants should be avoided just before going to bed. Drinking caffeinated beverages, such as coffee, soda, or energy drinks, in the late afternoon or evening may make it harder to fall asleep.
  • Turn off any and all electronic equipment. Before going to bed, it can be tough to wind down and fall asleep if you’re watching TV or playing phone games. Consider putting a time limit on how much time you can spend on your electronic devices before you go to bed.

If you suspect that your sleep problems are caused or exacerbated by a mental health problem, you should consult with a mental health professional. As sadness, anxiety, and other mental illnesses can affect your sleep, it’s possible that fixing your sleep problems will have a positive effect on your mental health.

Treatment to help with sleep problems

If self-help fails to provide results, see a doctor. Consider keeping a sleep diary for 10 days before to your consultation to assist you to define the problem. In most situations, doctors will examine to see if there are any underlying medical or psychological issues that are preventing you from sleeping well, and they may also suggest other lifestyle changes to help you get some rest at night.

If you’re suffering from insomnia, your doctor may prescribe a sleeping pill if these fail to assist. They can be beneficial in the short term but their effectiveness declines and can potentially make your sleeplessness worse. They’re also really difficult to stop once you get started. Sleeping tablets are normally prescribed at the lowest feasible dose and for the shortest period of time if they are used for any of the above reasons.

You may be sent to a specialized sleep disorder clinic by your doctor if your problems persist.

What if my child has sleep problems?

Uninterrupted sleep is essential for a child’s growth and development, but this isn’t always possible. As a whole, this has the potential to make a substantial impact. Children may have a hard time going asleep, wake up frequently during the night, suffer from nightmares, or even sleepwalk at times. Some children with disabilities, such as autism, appear to have particular difficulty maintaining a normal sleep schedule.

Some of the self-help methods described above can be beneficial to children. Keep a sleep diary and bring it to your doctor if you have any questions or concerns. Depression and other mental health conditions can cause excessive tiredness and an inability to get out of bed. If your child is having difficulties sleeping, make an appointment with their doctor.

A Word From Verywell

Mental and emotional well-being, as well as physical health, have been demonstrated to be negatively impacted by a lack of quality sleep. Many mental health diseases, such as melancholy and worry, can be linked to sleep disorders. However, sleep disorders may also be the fundamental cause of many conditions.

You will be better off in the long-term if you address your sleep problems sooner rather than later. If you can’t get a good night’s sleep despite your best attempts, contact a doctor. You may have a medical condition or a sleep issue that is causing your insomnia.

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