So now that we’ve covered how the lack of sleep can affect your physical health, let’s talk about how pulling all-nighters negatively impacts your mental, cognitive, and emotional health. We live in a society where people are #TeamNoSleep and #NoDays off, but bragging about being able to function with only a few hours of sleep, is really a health hazard and not something with which to mess around.
Here are 7 ways that sleep deprivation affects these areas of your mental health:
1. Altered Mood
When you don’t get enough sleep, you feel irritable and short-tempered.when you don’t get enough sleep. Chronic lack of sleep, however, also increases your chances of depression and anxiety. I’ll be talking about my own experience with depression later this week, so stay tuned.
2. Decreased Ability to Handle Stress
Stressful situations are difficult enough to handle when you have gotten a good sleep. When you get less than ideal amounts of sleep, and you are dealing with stress, your ability to do this well, deteriorates significantly. You may get angry, yell, cry, or do things that you normally wouldn’t do if you had gotten a good night of sleep. Sound familiar?
3. Decreased Ability to Think & Learn
Your ability to concentrate and focus on tasks, make decisions, and carry through with them, is hampered a great deal with lack of sleep. In addition, your ability to learn new things is also reduced. Sleep is known to help with new learning, and it is probably the reason why babies and young children sleep so much as they are constantly learning and adapting to their environments. New learning does not end with childhood, so adequate sleep continues to play an important role in adults. In addition, your brain assimilates information as you sleep, helping you to retain information.
4. Reduced Judgment Skills
Although this also falls under the inability to think, it deserves its own bullet point. If your judgment and insight are lacking due to poor sleep, your decision-making skills will be affected. You may make more impulsive decisions, or do things that are potentially unsafe while driving, for example. Your ability to assess situations accurately decreases.
5. Negatively Impacts Relationships
Because of your reduced ability to handle stress and your increased irritability, it makes sense that your personal and work relationships will suffer. This may also take a toll on your self-esteem as friendships and relationships are ruined, and you find that you have no one with which to talk.
6. Poor Memory
Again, this goes back to the inability to concentrate and focus on what is happening around you. If you do not register things in your short-term memory, it is impossible for the brain to convert memories to long-term ones.
7. Slow Reaction Time
Sleepiness when driving has been described as being as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol. If you mix lack of sleep and alcohol, it makes you even more dangerous behind the wheel.
Not only is driving dangerous when you lack sleep, working in certain industries or professions, when sleep-deprived, can be extremely dangerous. For example, construction workers and police officers are two of many professions that require alertness and the ability to react quickly.
Hopefully, the importance of sleep and how it impacts your physical and mental well-being is becoming clear. With that being said, you need to make sleep a priority. Think about how much better you will feel, and what you can accomplish if you work on improving your sleep.
If you missed my article on Why Sleep is So Important to Your Physical Health, you can check it out here.