Bidirectional Relationships Between Sleep and Mental Health Symptoms

Bidirectional Relationships Between Sleep and Mental Health Symptoms

Ever heard the saying “woke up on the wrong side of the bed?” Well, it turns out that it’s not just a saying. There is a connection between the amount and quality of sleep you get and the state of your mental health. So, your mood can get very nasty if you don’t get adequate sleep.

Inadequate sleep has been linked to depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and other mental health conditions. These conditions have also been linked to the onset of sleep problems, which only aggravate the symptoms more. It is a vicious, unending cycle.

While research is still ongoing, strong indicators show that improved quality of sleep can positively impact mental health issues, call Pacific Medical Care for a consultation at 619-333-8114.

How Is Sleep Connected to Mental Health?

The brain experiences varying levels of activities during the different stages of sleep. When you are in non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep, brain activity is at a minimal level compared to REM sleep. However, each stage is important to overall brain health, as brain activity during sleep positively impacts mental and emotional health.

Adequate sleep, especially REM sleep, helps the brain process emotional information. While you are asleep, your brain keeps working to process and store your thoughts and memories. Researchers have also found that inadequate sleep can affect the way your brain processes happy thoughts and emotions.

The more scientists have learned about the relationship between the two, the clearer it is that sleep problems are not just symptoms of mental health issues. There is a bidirectional relationship between the two, and one often leads to the other.

How Inadequate Sleep Causes Specific Mental Health Issues

To further understand the complex relationship between sleep and mental health, it is important to examine the role that sleep plays in certain mental health disorders.


This mood disorder is characterized by feelings of sadness and hopelessness. Hundreds of millions of people worldwide suffer from depression, and about 75% of them have insomnia. Depression has also been linked to hypersomnia, sleeping for long periods, and excessive daytime sleepiness. Many professionals previously believed that sleep disorders are a symptom of depression, but new studies suggest that sleep disorders may cause or worsen depression.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

SAD is a type of depression that only affects people during periods of reduced daytime hours. The change in daylight hours causes a shift in people’s internal biological clock, which regulates the sleep-wake cycle. As a result, the body “forgets” when it should sleep, disrupting the whole sleep-wake cycle. People who suffer from this condition often find it difficult to sleep or stay awake at the right time.

Anxiety Disorders

People who suffer from these conditions usually experience excessive fear and worry. Anxiety disorders could also result in other medical conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder are examples of anxiety disorders.

These disorders are also strongly connected to sleep problems. The intense worry and fear greatly contribute to sleep problems, which present more reasons to worry and fear.

Our internal medicine San Diego experts can help you balance your sleep-wake cycle for improved quality of life. Please book an appointment today.

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