You see the clock and realize you have four hours left before your alarm sounds. You think about everything you must do the next day and how miserable it will feel doing it exhausted. — Lauren Woolley, PhD
So many things have been said about how to have beautiful skin, healthy bones, and a sound mind and body. Exercise is at the top of the list for what steps to take, just before eating the right types of food, but what of sleep and its healing powers? Does sleep really lighten the spirit, repair the body, and ease the mind? Why has sleep been suggested to cure the symptoms of depression and why do you get depressed when you are sleep-deprived? You may be surprised to know that getting enough sleep heals more than just those late afternoon mood swings.
The Purpose of Sleep
Sleeping has been linked to a number of negative descriptions – laziness, procrastination, idleness, and more. However, when your body does need to shut off and rest from life’s daily chores, sleeping is the other part of your body cycle where rejuvenation takes place. It is in sleeping that we replenish our energy and vitality as we substitute what we have lost from the days of hard labor. You may not be doing anything strenuous the whole week, but if you haven’t got much sleep, your immune system falls below the normal levels making you prone to illnesses. Studies have proven that when you lose even an hour of sleep every night, you increase your probability of having cancer, heart disease, and diabetes, among others.
Sleep Deprivation Linked to Depression
How can sleep deprivation cause depression? When does the body give up and say, “I can’t take it anymore?” How does it affect one’s well-being?
Even a single night of sleep deprivation sets us up to react more strongly and impulsively to negative or unpleasant situations, according to research. And when operating with a chronic sleep debt, as so many busy adults do, you contend with this heightened emotional reactivity on a daily basis. — Michael J Breus Ph.D.
Sleep does not directly cause depression. However, when one is sleep-deprived because of anxiety and stress, he becomes irritable, moody and impatient. These behaviors often lead to more lack of sleep and consequently, more anxiety and stress which ultimately leads to depression. Individuals with psychiatric or psychological issues often experience sleep disorders. Their mind is constantly awake because of negative thoughts, and they suffer from mental exhaustion. Here, the relationship between sleep and psychological problems is quite visible, highlighting the importance of getting enough sleep to avoid further destruction of one’s mental state.
The Importance of Getting Enough Sleep
There is obviously a chaotic event within the mind and body when you don’t get as much sleep as you need. Sleep can be compared to the batteries of a car. It’s not the main performer (the machine is), but you can never win without it playing the supporting role. It is one key factor in keeping the vital parts of the body normal and healthy – the skin, the heart, the liver, the kidneys, the brain. It strengthens and revitalizes. It nurtures. It aids in cognition. It heals.
The inability to sleep becomes an indicator of our being out of balance. We can listen to this indicator, rather than reach for the latest sleep medication, or substance use/abuse. — Diane Renz, L.P.C.
For all the beautiful things that sleep can do to and for us, those who have sleep problems ought to get enough of it. They can try by keeping a sleep schedule. It can start with a short nap in the middle of the morning and none in the afternoon, so that the body tires early and you can sleep at around 8 or 9 in the evening. According to research, it is between 8 and 9 where the body can best rejuvenate, not at midnight. Avoiding caffeine in the afternoon is also recommended. Finally, you can always reach out to therapists online who are knowledgeable about sleep issues and how to get enough of it.