Research has confirmed that one-third of Americans do not get enough sleep. Medical records prove it is taking a toll on physical health in the form of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and other conditions. It can hurt your mental health as well.
A recent study in the journal Cognitive Therapy and Research led by Postdoctoral Fellow Ivan Vargas, Ph.D., notes that if you are sleep deprived, you lose some of your ability to be positive-minded. Medical experts also caution that the inability to think positively can be a serious symptom of depression.
“In general, we have a tendency to notice positive stimuli in our environment,” said Vargas. “We tend to focus on positive things more than anything else, but now we’re seeing that sleep deprivation may reverse that bias.”
Vargas and his team evaluated 40 healthy adults; some had been awake for 28 consecutive hours, while some enjoyed a full eight hours of sleep. Then the participants were tested on their accuracy and response time at identifying happy, sad and neutral faces and assessed as to how they process positive and negative information.
The study revealed that the acutely sleep-deprived adults were less likely to focus on the happy faces, lending well to the suggestion that the study may have implications for those experiencing depression and anxiety.
There are many types of depression ranging in severity; poor sleep is associated with a particularly serious sign of the condition.
“Depression is typically characterized by the tendency to think and feel more negatively or sad, but more than that, depression is associated with feeling less positive, less able to feel happy,” Vargas says, “Similarly, if you don’t get enough sleep, it reduces your ability to attend to positive things, which over time may confer risk for depression.”
In the present study of those with a history of insomnia symptoms, they were less sensitive to the effects of the sleep loss. The team believes this is because those with a history of insomnia symptoms have more experience being in sleep-deprived conditions and have developed coping methods to modulate the effect of sleep loss.
Recently, Vargas and his colleagues presented a related study at SLEEP 2017, the 31st Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC, on the association of insomnia and suicide, finding that people who suffer from insomnia are three times more likely to report thoughts of suicide and death during the past 30 days than those without the condition.
The study comes amid a growing body of knowledge associating sleep disorders and depression. Ongoing research presented this year at SLEEP 2017 from a multi-center NIH-sponsored “Treatment of Insomnia and Depression” suggests that cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia may help achieve depression remission in those suffering from both depression and insomnia who sleep at least 7 hours each night.
A new study in the journal Child Development furthers the connection between late-night cell phone use, mental health, and disrupted sleep, finding that using a cell phone at night can increase depression in teenagers and lower their self-esteem.
In conclusion, we need to be aware of the ramifications that can accompany poor sleep patterns. If you suffer from restlessness or clinical insomnia, get help because your health depends on it.
If you know someone who might like this, please click “Share!”