The Negatives of Sleep Deprivation

One-third, or 70 million Americans, are sleep-deprived, on top of being chronically stressed and burned out. So how exactly is this affecting us?

What we know
  • Sleep deficiency can lead to physical and mental health problems, injury, loss of productivity, and even a greater likelihood of death.
  • It can interfere with school, work, driving, socialization, focus, and mood.
  • Sleep disturbances are linked to higher levels of psychological distress, anxiety, and depression—in fact, the current rates are double of what they were pre-pandemic.
  • 1 in 3 participants had clinical insomnia symptoms, and nearly 20% of those individuals met the criteria for insomnia disorder (from 2021 study published in Sleep Medicine).
  • College students are suffering: at least 60% of them are not getting adequate sleep, and over 15% of them reported having poor sleep quality.
  • 73% of students reported issues falling or staying asleep, with a higher frequency among women than men.
  • Individuals with ADHD and/or depression are significantly more likely to experience problems with sleeping.
Complications of sleep deprivation

Poor quality sleep increases negative emotional responses, decreases positive emotions, and increases the risk of mental health disorders. Sleep problems can also exacerbate existing mental health conditions—leading to a vicious cycle that seems to never end. However, the vicious cycle is not exclusive to mentally ill populations; poor quality sleep can affect even the healthiest individuals by increasing anxiety levels and elevating feelings of distress. For adults, sleeping less than 7 hours a day can lead to adverse health outcomes like weight gain, hypertension, heart disease, risk of stroke, impaired immune function, depression, and anxiety. So, how can we avoid this cycle?

Get ahead with a sleep routine

Developing a healthy nighttime and sleep routine is key and it all starts with making it a priority. Having a reliable sleep routine is really important, because it makes healthy sleep a habit and helps optimize your body’s natural ‘wind-down’ time at night. Here’s how to get started on making a sleep routine that works for you:

  • Decide on a set bedtime and stick to it.
  • Schedule a time to start your bedtime routine (ie. 30 mins before sleeping).
  • Put away electronics for at least 30 minutes. Blue light from our screens keeps our minds awake, which can hinder your sleep cycle.
  • Have a light snack to calm your stomach (think fruits, yogurt, or a non-caffeinated herbal tea).
  • Take a quick, warm shower to relax your muscles.
  • Listen to some calming delta binaural beats (check out SoundMind’s app for the best ones).
  • Read a book or journal about your day to sort out your thoughts before bed.
  • Prepare your bedroom for sleep—ie. turn off anything noisy, put things away to reduce clutter, turn off your lights, and make sure you’re not overheating (these can all hinder your sleep).
  • Once you’re completely ready for bed, close your eyes and focus on your breathing to help facilitate sleep.
Key Takeaways

Good rest is important and essential to making sure that you’re at your best every day. Although it can be hard to keep those set sleep boundaries with yourself and others, it really makes a difference in the quality of your days and your mood—make sure that healthy, uninterrupted sleep is a priority for you!

Have you tried out our research-backed binaural beats on the SoundMind app? Download for free here!

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    Kyla Dang
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