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Sleep and Mental Health

Written by Cam Gorman; Oct. 26, 2023

Sleep Could Be Impacting Your Mental Health

Do you find that you’ve been feeling more depressed recently? With the new school year having just started a couple months ago, teenagers are being burdened with not only tight deadlines and copious amounts of homework, but also early start times and late nights spent studying. The looming threat of the school day can also be a motivator for wanting to stay up and enjoy what little free time you have left. But, how bad is sleep deprivation for your mind? One source says, “Poor sleep leads to worrying. Worrying leads to poor sleep. Worrying about sleep is like your mind trying to fight itself. That's a horrible place to be.”1 Let’s examine what this means.

How does the stress-sleep cycle work?

Sleep is critical to heal not only our bodies, but also our minds. It has been proven that sleep is necessary in order to process memories and positive feelings.2 Therefore, when we sleep less than we need to, we become more irate and have a worse memory, which can then lead to more stress, which fuels the cycle. Therefore, many teens look to the weekend for an opportunity to catch up on their sleep. However, sleeping for longer periods of time and at irregular times can make it even harder to get back on track when the week comes around.

A lack of sleep has detrimental effects on our mental health. Depression and anxiety can rear their ugly heads when faced with a sleep-deprived teen, as well as irritability and paranoia in more susceptible teens. Suicidal ideation is also more common in those who do not get enough sleep.

How can I make sure I sleep better?

Improving the amount of sleep that you get is critical to your health and in ensuring that you stay in the right state of mind. Here are some ways that you could do so right now:

  • Practice meditation or other relaxing activities like listening to music or reading. Since many people have trouble sleeping due to increased stress, reducing that stress before going to sleep could assist with making sure you get enough.

  • Stay off of screens. This is one that probably won’t go over well, but it’s true; electronic screens can keep you up and prevent you from resting as soundly as you could. If you are unable to fall asleep on time, try staying off of or away from screens for just an hour before bed.

  • Don’t sleep in too much on the weekends. Going to bed and waking up very late sounds like a great idea… except for when Monday comes around and that “going to bed late” doesn’t mesh well with “getting up at 6AM.” Keeping a relatively stable sleep schedule is important to making sure you get enough sleep during the week.

1. “How to cope with sleep problems” Mind, May 2023. Accessed 26 Oct. 2023.

2. Suni, Eric. “Mental Health and Sleep.” Sleep Foundation, 20 Oct. 2023. Accessed 26 Oct. 2023.

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