As high school students, sleep is an important factor with success in areas such as school, sports, and any other activities. Many teens today do not get enough sleep causing sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation can affect one’s mental health and lead to negative effects on one’s mental health.
In a study conducted by Harvard Medical, scientists saw that there is a deficit in the ability to form new human memories without sleep. This indicates how a full night of sleep can reprogram and “charge” the brain in order to prepare for challenges one will encounter the next day. We process information as we sleep and during sleep our brain retains and stores the information we had learned that day.
Sleep is needed in order for our bodies to have a period of rest and to be able to ‘recharge’ the brain; just as if we charge a cell phone at the end of the day in order for there to be enough battery the next morning. Being able to maintain a good sleep cycle and schedule can allow for the body to function properly and the brain to perform at its peak performance. Getting in the habit of being on a poor sleep schedule is a risk for the development of mental health disorders such as insomnia, anxiety, and depression. Dr. Lawrence Epstein, Medical Director of Sleep Health Centers and an instructor at Harvard Medical School reiterated this point by stating, “There’s a big relationship between psychiatric and psychological problems and sleep. So people who are depressed or have anxiety often have trouble with sleep as part of those disorders”. There are also many psychological symptoms that stem from sleep deprivation which can include: low mood, anxiety, irritability, psychotic episodes, and poor cognitive functioning and performance. Along with psychological effects, poor sleep can also have physical effects such as tiredness, elevation in blood pressure and stress hormones, negative effects on cardiovascular health, and immune damage.
The connection between sleep and mental health is still not fully understood, but many scientists and researchers believe that a good night’s sleep will help to foster emotional and mental toughness. Sleep deprivation can gateway into depression, negative thinking, and anxiety. This is why getting a sufficient amount of sleep is important to foster mental growth, so one may not contract harmful mental disorders.
We can help prevent sleep deprivation and the contraction of certain mental diseases by practicing good habits. As teens, in order to have a good night’s sleep, we should be getting between 8-10 hours in order to foster growth, development and be able to recharge our body. Other habits that are important for fostering good sleep habits are establishing a regular sleep-wake cycle, limiting the use of blue-light before bed, regular daily exercises, avoiding frequent naps throughout the day, and avoiding excessive eating and drinking before bed.
By practicing good sleep habits and making sure you get the appropriate amounts of sleep, you will begin to feel better in all aspects of your life!
By: Kayla Arone’22, SNHS Member