This is the first part in a small series into The Strains that Sleep Deprivation & Sleep Disturbances can take on your Mental Health & Physical Health
We all know the importance of a good nights sleep, and the health benefits this brings us, right? If not then I recommend you have a quick read of this article that explains just a few of the benefits that a good nights sleep can bring you.
Whilst getting a good night sleep is important, this post is however going to focus on the issues that can arise from not getting a good nights sleep, what this can end up bringing you and contains some learnings from my own personal experiences.
Firstly, lets set out some items that this post will cover and their understood definitions, please note there are many links on this article leading to external sites for you to read at your leisure.
Sleep disturbances encompass disorders of initiating and maintaining sleep (DIMS, insomnia (NHS | Wikipedia), disorders of excessive somnolence (DOES), disorders of sleep–wake schedule, and dysfunctions associated with sleep, sleep stages, or partial arousals (parasomnia).
See https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK401/ for even more information.
See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleep_deprivation for more information.
Secondly, lets set a hypothetical scene, albeit for me an all too common one.
Its early one Thursday morning (pre 6am) and its all to common that for me to see this time of day is due to having been unable to actually drift off to sleep at all. This is something that I’ve personally experienced for well over 12 years now, all in varying different scales & can at times be the scale where it is almost unnoticeable to me, to the other extreme where it effects me constantly for weeks or months at a time in batches.
In the first few years I had completely disregarded it as an issue as it was maybe at it’s worst effecting me once a week for 2-3 weeks at a time and then would disappear for months at a time. I just took it to “be one of those things that just happens sometimes” and thought not a lot more about it, mainly due to a mix of not really wanting to accept that I was suffering, but also that I already knew that I had a busy mind and due to circumstances at the time I was constantly overthinking specific scenarios, and as is common with many that have a difficulty in getting to sleep, the mind starts racing at x10 - x100 speed as soon as your head hits the pillow. This is predominantly caused by stress, and the art of stressing tends to be most prevalent at the end of the day in our wind down stage, prior to actually being able to actually sleep, if you are going through lots of stress, please seek some advise from your GP or via services like this if you are in England - https://beta.nhs.uk/find-a-psychological-therapies-service/?WT.mc_id=MHCampaign_Twitter5
However I should not have dismissed it so quickly as this was also around the time in my life that I had come to realise that I was beginning to show and feel the traits of having what could be a very mild but noticeable (at least to me due to my lust to learn more about mental health aliments and illnesses) of what could be indicative of the symptoms of having a case of Bi-Polar disorder. There has been some interesting research done out there on a wider variety of different Mental Health issues that ties sleep disturbances and in more extreme cases, sleep deprivation, to being a potential precursor in developing bi-polar disorder, like what is described in this article over at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3321357/
A key point to take from the above linked article
Sleep disturbance is a core symptom of bipolar disorder
This one point, kicked down the door and barriers that I had built up and effectively opened me up to properly investigating my thoughts, & understanding, about my own mental health, especially when it related to both Sleep and Mood regulation and reading this 1 point was essentially the beginning point that lead me down the path of truly understanding that there is actually a higher likelihood that there will be a combination of issues that can be at play at any given time, with there being a higher likelihood of there being a series of stronger compounded symptoms, that can include sleep disturbances / sleep deprivation and there knock on effects into other aspects of Mental Health.
I guess the point that I am attempting to make here is that the smallest changes, like a change to sleep pattern, a change in dietary tastes, or just a feeling of a more general change of mood can be enough of a sign from your body that something isn’t quite right from a biochemical sense. The body is actually really good at pointing out these changes to you, because under the hood, every action, and all of their subsequent reactions. are all down to the number of different biochemical reactions that occur within the body, and how these then kick off their chain of events that can include items, like the regulation of our Circadian Rhythm, (more commonly known as the process that provides regulation of our sleep cycles) and our digestive processes. Once you learn a little more about how these work and start to understand how the body controls these different processes within the body, including mood regulation (and how you can in time learn methods to help you further in ways that you can self regulate) and the neurochemistry behind how the body manages to do this, then you can start to learn more about how you can self manage and more importantly self regulate difficult spells as well prior to obtaining any external help, and in a later post I will cover some of the things that have managed to really help me over previous years as I have learnt more and more about them and how they all personally affect me, and with everyone’s biochemistry being slightly different, all mileage of how they can affect you can come down to a number of things including, diet, exercise, stress levels, and countless other things too.
At this point I feel it only right to have to remind you that anything I write, especially in regards to my own personal experience with coping mechanisms and my own management of aliments like what I have written about here, all of these have come from personal experience of living with them over many years, with what totals to be well over a decade’s worth of personal experience and with all of that experience, items that I have tried and tested, has been based on my own understanding of symptoms and their causes and has been based on many thousands of hours of extensive reading into these topics over this time.
Whilst a number of these areas and my coping mechanisms could end up having some potential for their conclusions that could be loosely tied to some themes that resemble some basic common sense (like not drinking caffeine containing products in the evening), some of them will disprove these ideals, and as such I do not recommend that you blindly follow any of them without doing further research of your own to better understand the processes behind them but also then also be prepared to do something useful about it and therefore then tell yourself that you should investigate further, and actually doing so.
Your investigations should include at least a little bit of basic personal research, however, you should not just rely on this as there is plenty of incorrect information being shared out there and I highly recommend that you should also seek further advice from at least your own GP, and any specialists that they also recommend as well, especially where sleep disturbances/deprivation and bipolar are concerned as your GP / recommended specialists are adequately trained, whereas I am not trained in this area, at least not currently, and whilst this isn’t something in my immediate future, this is something that I would find fascinating and fulfilling going into later life and may end up looking at studying properly in future to end up being trained properly in this area.
If you recognise any symptoms of Bi-Polar Disorder, as is listed on the following page, or any other mental health issues/aliments (more to come on my views about differentiating these two and understanding the key differences between them in a future post), then I would seriously suggest that you look to book an appointment with your GP, at the earliest opportunity, and seek proper medical advice regarding your symptoms as soon as you can, as just like physical symptoms, catching mental health issues early vastly increases your ability to be able to both manage them and also more importantly accept that you need to make changes to be able to manage them.
If you can try to keep a track of things that start off as being uncommon in occurrence, just in case the frequency in which they occur becomes more regular and more intense and just like psychical health issues like colds, or illnesses, the sooner they are caught the easier they can be managed and in future posts I will cover some of the coping mechanisms I’ve come up with when I have suffered sleep disturbances and deprivation in the past, and like I mentioned in this previous post It’s #TimeToTalk, But it’s also #TimeToWrite, making even small notes down can help you later on in trying to understand patterns in how these differing aliments can affect you, and perhaps more importantly, how you can perhaps get to understand them and in time manage to maintain and control them.
That’s all for Part 1 of this series, and we will bring part 2 to you sometime in the future!