Sleep & Mental Health

Sleep & Mental Health

We are all aware of the impact that a bad night’s sleep can have - feeling tired above all else which leads to lack of concentration, irritability and low motivation to complete daily tasks. 

Losing valuable sleep over a longer period of time can have a significant impact on our mental health, going far beyond the physical symptoms. With our lives increasingly busy with family, work and commitments stacking up, nevermind the Corona Virus pandemic, it is estimated that we now sleep around 90 minutes less each night than we did in the 1920s. This drop in quantity of sleep is linked to mental health problems for those of all ages.

Research by the mental health charity Mind, shows that 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem of some kind each year in England with 1 in 6 people reporting experiencing a common mental health problem such as anxiety or depression in any given week in England. 

Mental health issues and sleep concerns often result in a cycle that can sometimes be difficult to escape. Mental health worries can interrupt sleep which then causes further anxiety, leading to sleep difficulties with the cycle continuing. The Sleep Council reports that scientists have found a direct correlation between anxiety and rhythm of sleep. Anxiety causes a person’s heart rate to increase, therefore causing the brain to ‘race’ too. Beta waves are produced by the brain as a result, making an individual too stimulated to sleep. To make it even harder for the individual to fall asleep, active brains also trigger other worries, adding to the unfortunate cycle. Studies published by Harvard Medical School estimate that 65-90% of adult patients with major depression, and about 90% of children with the disorder, experience some kind of sleep problem. In his New York Times Bestseller ‘Why We Sleep’,  Dr Mathew Walker, British scientist and professor of neuroscience and psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, elaborates “I firmly believe that sleep loss and mental illness is best described as a two-way street of interaction, with the flow of traffic being stronger in one direction or the other, depending on the disorder.”

Furthermore, the Sleep Foundation documents research that states people with insomnia have greater levels of depression and anxiety than those who sleep normally. People who suffer from insomnia are 10 times more likely to have clinical depression and 17 times as likely to have clinical anxiety. Frequency of insomnia and interrupted sleep correlates with a higher chance of developing depression. 

Obstructive sleep apnea, a condition causing breathing to stop and start during sleep, has also been linked to clinical depression. One study documented by the Sleep Foundation of nearly 19,000 people, found that those with the condition were 5 times more likely to suffer from the mental health problem. Because of the constant disruption of sleep associated with obstructive sleep apnea, researchers believe that this can alter brain activity and neurochemicals that affect a person’s mood and thinking, resulting in depression.

This relationship between mental health and sleep in terms of neurological activity can also be seen in research carried out by Dr Mathew Walker. Research involving brain scans carried out by Walker revealed a 60% amplification in the reactivity of the amygdala – a key area of triggering anger and rage – in those who were sleep-deprived. Sleeplessness has been linked to aggression and bullying in children whilst suicidal thoughts have been linked to adolescents who fail to achieve enough sleep. 

It is now clear to see the impact that sleep has not only on our physical health but also, equally as important, on our mental health. With positive discussions surrounding mental health continuing to increase with backing from brands, organisations, and celebrities across the world, it is important to take care of ourselves and speak out about mental health struggles.

At Ava Innes, we are passionate about sleeping better, sleeping naturally, and of course sleeping under cashmere. We strive to help you achieve a great night’s sleep night after night, whilst using our natural resources better. Our unique, patent-pending, blend of cashmere guard hair and wool used to create our dreamy duvets, has helped customers drift off into a deeper more comfortable night’s sleep. Caroline Dunbar, Duffus Estate says, “We did not think we would notice a difference, but we did. We are both sleeping better.” Our naturally weighted and temperature regulating duvets are handcrafted in Yorkshire and help our customers create the perfect sleep environment to drift away into. 

Stay connected with Ava Innes to learn more around sleep, sustainability and cashmere.