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Does Lack Of Sleep Affect Mental Health?

Does Lack Of Sleep Affect Mental Health?

Yes, lack of sleep does affect mental health.

Both sleep and mental health are closely related. Also, people with mental health problems suffer from insomnia.

Insomnia or difficulty in sleeping is a very common condition and is found affecting approximately 33% of the world’s population(1)

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, one in three American adults is not getting enough sleep on regular basis(2)

It is, therefore, important to know about the impact of lack of sleep on the mental health and well being of an individual.

How Are Sleep And Mental Health Related?

Sleep plays a major role in the mental and physical well-being. Not being able to sleep well can leave you irritated and make you feel exhausted in the short-term. It also has serious long-term consequences on health.

Lack of sleep is related to long-term health consequences such as diabetes, heart disease and depression(3)

Research suggests sleep to play a major role in both the development and maintenance of different health problems.(4) This means sleep problems can lead to the development of mental health conditions and also changes in mental health can cause sleep problems.

If you notice any problem with sleeping, it is important to consult your doctor.


Poor sleep can bring in irritability, making it difficult to cope with even the smallest stress in life.

This can become a major source of frustration and can further disturb the sleep. Even if you know that you need a good sleep, not being able to sleep would cause worry and make falling asleep more difficult.


Lack of sleep is a symptom and also a cause of depression.

A study found people with sleep problems increase the risk of developing depression by two folds.(5) Bringing about improvement in sleep would lessen the chances of developing depression.

Treatment of insomnia can prove to be of big help in improving psychological health and help the treatment of mental health conditions to be promising.

A study was done to investigate the impact of poor sleep on depression, anxiety, and paranoia. It was found, those treated with cognitive behavior therapy showed a significant reduction in depression, anxiety, paranoia, and nightmares.(6)

It also showed improvement in overall well being and ability to function at home and work.


People with anxiety experience sleep disturbance and those who experience sleep disturbance have anxiety.

Sleep problem is a major risk factor in the development of anxiety disorders. A study found a lack of sleep to be a predictor for generalized anxiety disorder in children between 9-16 years of age.(7) Those children who struggle with sleep problems develop anxiety conditions if their sleep issues are left ignored or untreated.

Also, those with anxiety find it difficult to cope with it if they have chronic sleep disturbance. Otherwise healthy people can experience anxiety as an effect of poor sleep.(8)

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition characterized by alternating periods of depressed and elevated mood.

Sleep disturbance is a common symptom of those with bipolar disorder. It includes insomnia, irregular sleep and wake cycle, and nightmares.

A study showed, reduced sleep caused symptoms of mania and hypomania. Research showed changes in the normal sleep pattern after a manic episode.(9)

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

ADHD is a very common mental health condition affecting 5.3% of children between the age group of 5-17 years.

25% to 55%of children with ADHD experience sleep disturbances.(10)

Such children find it difficult to fall asleep, difficulty in waking, night walking, breathing issues, and daytime sleepiness.

Sleep interventions can help improve the severity of ADHD along with improving the overall quality of life.

Sleep problems can be modified. Finding ways to improve the quality and quantity of sleep can be helpful in treating mental health conditions.

Having good sleep hygiene or practices are good for staying rested and keeping calm. For a good night’s sleep, follow the below-mentioned tips:

  • Limit Napping: Sleeping for long during the day can affect the ability to fall or stay asleep at night.
  • A nap or 30 minutes or even at time 10 minutes is enough to make you feel alert and rested.
  • Avoid Caffeine Or Stimulants: Consuming caffeinated drinks in the form of coffee, soda, or tea, can make it difficult to fall asleep
  • Turn Off The Devices: Watching television or using mobile at bedtime can make it difficult to fall asleep. Try setting the time limits or quit using devices before bedtime.
  • Establish a Night Routine: Set up a night routine. Take a bath, read a book, or practice meditation to calm your mind. Follow a routine every night to set the mood for a good night’s sleep.

If facing problems with sleep, consult a mental health professional, as it can contribute aggravating or causing a mental health problem. It is good to address this problem early for overall health and wellness.

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 10, 2020

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