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Get Some Shut-Eye: Sleep Deprivation Affects Mental Health

By HERWriter
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mental health affected by sleep deprivation: get some shut-eye Auremar/PhotoSpin

If you’re losing an ongoing battle with your alarm’s snooze button, or if you have to staple your eyelids open and down a cup of coffee in order to function, then welcome to the overpopulated and well-caffeinated world of sleep deprivation.

Sleep deprivation is the result of not sleeping enough, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

The concept of sleep deficiency is slightly different. You may be suffering from sleep deficiency if you suffer from one or more of these issues:

- Sleep deprivation

- Sleeping at the incorrect time of day

- Having difficulties sleeping soundly

- Not benefiting from all sleep types (REM and non-REM) required by the body

- Suffering from a sleep disorder like insomnia

Although you can feel the initial physical effect of sleep deprivation, which is fatigue/drowsiness, you might not realize that depriving yourself of sleep time (at least seven to eight hours a day for adults) can also have mental health consequences.

In fact, two recent studies showed a relationship between depression and sleep duration.

In a study published in the journal Sleep involving adult twins, researchers looked at how genetics play a role in the environment, especially when it comes to sleep duration and depression.

The results implied that twins who only slept five hours a night (short sleep duration) were much more likely to be genetically disposed to developing depression (53 percent total heritability of depressive symptoms) than those who slept for an average amount of time of 7-8.9 hours (27 percent).

Twins who overslept at 10 hours a night still had a higher risk than normal (49 percent), but less than sleep-deprived adults.

Another study in Sleep focused on data for over 4,000 adolescents ages 11-17, and found that teens who slept six or less hours a day were more at risk for developing major depression. This in turn starts a cycle, since major depression can be a risk factor for sleep deficiency and deprivation.

An article in the New York Times pointed to another effect of sleep deprivation.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.