Sleep is essential for our health and wellbeing, yet
it is estimated that 40% of the population suffer
with sleep issues and many do not get the support
that they need.
Ongoing poor sleep can be a huge risk factor in developing depression. The risk of feeling depressed and/or anxious (as well as worsening existing anxiety and depression) increases with the severity of insomnia, and so it is important to recognise and sort out sleep problems as soon as they are identified.
Approximately 50% of insomnia cases are related to depression, anxiety or psychological stress. Often the way insomnia manifests itself can be helpful in determining the role of mental illness in a person’s inability to sleep. Early morning wakefulness can be a sign of depression, along with low energy, inability to concentrate, sadness and a change in appetite or weight. On the other hand, a sudden dramatic decrease in sleep which is accompanied by increase in energy, or the lack of need for sleep may be a sign of mania.
How can mental health problems affect sleep?
Mental health problems can affect your sleep in different ways.
According to the mental health charity, Mind, the majority of insomniacs suffer from low mood and are seven times more likely to feel helpless and five times more likely to feel alone.
Poor sleep has been shown to significantly worsen the symptoms of many mental health issues. Severe sleep problems can decrease the effectiveness of certain treatments. Treatment of sleep disorders has also been studied in relationship to schizophrenia, ADHD and other mental illnesses. All of the scientific data shows the connection between medical and mental illnesses: good sleep is necessary for recovery—or prevention—in both types of conditions.
It is therefore so important that if you are a sufferer of insomnia to seek help and advice on how best to overcome your problems. Whether that involves visiting a GP for medical advice, trying out our tips and guides on how to improve your bedtime routine, or using products from the Ten:PM range – please just make sure you focus on improving the amount of sleep you achieve.
According to Mind, there are number of ways a mental health problem can affect your sleep.
- Anxiety can cause thoughts to race through your mind, making it difficult to sleep.
- Depression and seasonal affective disorder (SAD) can lead to oversleeping – either sleeping late in the morning or sleeping a lot during the day. If you experience difficult or troubling thoughts as part of depression, this can also cause insomnia.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can cause nightmares and night terrors, disturbing your sleep. This can mean you feel anxious about falling asleep, which could lead to insomnia.
- Paranoia and psychosis may make it difficult for you to sleep. You may hear voices or see things that you find frightening, or experience disturbing thoughts, which make it hard to fall asleep.
- Mania often causes feelings of energy and elation, so you might not feel tired or want to sleep. Racing thoughts caused by mania can make it hard to fall asleep and may cause insomnia.
- Psychiatric medication can cause side effects including insomnia, disturbed sleep or oversleeping. You may also experience sleep problems after you stop taking psychiatric drugs.
Children need long periods of uninterrupted sleep for their growth and development, but sleep problems are common – especially among younger children. This can have a big impact on the whole family. Children may be reluctant to go to sleep, wake in the night, have nightmares or sleepwalk. Some children with disabilities such as autism seem to have particular difficulty establishing a consistent sleep pattern.
Some of the self-help measures listed here can be adapted for children. It’s also a good idea to keep a sleep diary to show their doctor. Excessive sleeping or a continued reluctance to get up could suggest depression or another mental health problem. If your child has sleep problems, make an appointment with their doctor to see what help is available.