Why is sleep so important for mental health?

You may not think about sleep very often, but you know that it helps in some way. You often feel ‘out of sorts’ after a bad night’s sleep but you’re ready to take on anything after a good night’s sleep. So what are the benefits of sleep for mental health? And why is sleep so important?

 

Sleep sharpens your attention

You’ve probably noticed that the more tired you are, the more difficult it is for you to concentrate. When we lack sleep, we find it hard to take in vast amounts of information. If you are well rested, you will have a clearer mind and a sharper focus.

 

Sleep improves your memory

The human brain has three stages of forming a memory. The first is acquisition, which is when you introduce the information to your brain. The second is consolidation, when the memory is strengthened. The final stage is recall, which is when – you guessed it – you access the information that you stored. Acquisition and recall happen when you are awake while consolidation happens when you’re asleep. When you are sleeping, your brain consolidates and organises your memories, which helps you remember what you learned the previous day.

 

Sleep lowers your stress

Ever noticed how the little things bother you more if you haven’t slept long enough the night before? Researchers suggest that sleep deprivation makes us more irritable and we react negatively to minor annoyances and interruptions. For example, a survey from the American Psychological Association found that adults who slept fewer than eight hours a night were more likely to report symptoms of stress than those who slept eight or more hours.

 

Other benefits of sleep

In addition to sleep benefiting your mental health, it can also help your physical health. Studies have suggested that there is a link between prolonged sleep deprivation and health problems like heart disease and diabetes.

 

How much sleep do I need?

Your sleep needs may vary, but most adults need between seven and eight hours of sleep each night, whereas children and teenagers will need more sleep.

 

 

Need help? You can find support services in Northern Queensland or complete a self-administered K10 test for depression and anxiety. You can also join the online mental health forum to talk with like-minded people.