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What happens with our brain during sleep? Sleep is considered the most indispensable, even in our hectic and fast-paced world.
Doesn’t matter how much stress someone goes through, a person’s body and brain simply won’t let them go for a prolonged amount of time without any sleep. There are quite a few ways to keep a person awake and not have an overwhelming need to go to sleep, things like caffeine and stress related to work as well as anxiety and etc.
The damage that sleep deprivation and insomnia can have on our bodies have been well-documented, but less concrete evidence about the effects on mental health also exist. It is usually assumed that our mind doesn’t fully shut down while we are asleep, but that doesn’t mean it does not need time to rest. There are some potential side effects of insomnia on mental health, and some could worsen the problem itself.
Within the most well-documented sleep deprivation effects are unstable emotions. People who often have lack of sleep tend to be moody and irritable. In some cases, their emotions seem to be instantaneous, shifting from normal to angry with the slightest comment.
There hasn’t been any form of concrete information on why this is the cause, but it is a documented problem related to insomnia. It is theorized that sleep somehow restores certain chemical receptors that are related to emotions within the brain, and lack of sleep disrupts the normal production of these chemicals. Currently, it is unclear whether being asleep blocks off production or increases them, and if it affects these compounds in another way. There are other theories that answer why insomnia affects emotions, but those lack concrete studies to back up their assumptions as well.
One of the most hated side effects of insomnia is depression, although it can be argued whether one is really a product of the other. In a similar way that emotions are affected by lack of sleep, our overall mood can also be affected by lengthened insomnia. Since depression is very closely tied to our emotional state, the disruption that is caused by lack of sleep can be enough to push us into clinical depression.
However, some argue as to whether or not insomnia is truly a factor of depression. Some believe that while there is a connection, it is more reasonable to assume that depression can lead to lack of sleep, instead of the other way around. It should be noted that, despite the consequences on mental health, neither theory has been put under serious academic review.
Some have also attributed a few anxiety disorders to insomnia. There is a question as to whether this actually counts however. While there is clear evidence that connects the two problems, most are prone to believe anxiety disorders cause insomnia, rather than the other way around. However, there is some data that shows people developing minor anxiety disorders during a period where they lack needed sleep.
As with the above, more study is required due to a lack of any concrete statistical data to back up these theories and observations.
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