Keep Your Brain Under Control – Sleep!

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Everyone knows there are strong correlations between sleeping and mental health, but nothing makes you believe something like brushing up against it. 

Have any of these things ever happened to you when you haven’t gotten the sleep you should? 

  • Hallucinations
  • Hearing things that aren’t there
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

Yeah, me neither. 

Sleep is critical to brain function. It’s essentially the only opportunity to recharge, but also re-order your mind. Sleep has been likened to the overnight crew at a grocery store and the garbage collectors ridding your brain of the cruft that accrues during common usage. Without proper sleep, your brain loses function fast. Memory, learning, focus, reaction, and even how you perceive the world in general, can be dramatically impacted by lack of sleep.

80% of sleep deprived people hallucinate. 

Hearing or seeing things that aren’t there. That sounds normal! Hallucinations are common with severely sleep deprived people. And “severe” means anything from getting just a few hours of sleep one night to days on end without sleep.

For the most part, we’re talking visual hallucinations. But hearing things that aren’t there is also a thing. In psychology speak – hearing or seeing things that aren’t there are psychotic episodes. 

According to this study, sleep deprivation looks a lot like psychosis – and can eventually become psychosis: 

Symptoms rapidly developed after one night without sleep, progressing in an almost fixed time-dependent way. Perceptual distortions, anxiety, irritability, depersonalization, and temporal disorientation started within 24–48 h of sleep loss, followed by complex hallucinations and disordered thinking after 48–90 h, and delusions after 72 h, after which time the clinical picture resembled that of acute psychosis or toxic delirium. By the third day without sleep, hallucinations in all three sensory modalities were reported. A period of normal sleep served to resolve psychotic symptoms in many—although not all—cases.

Anxiety and depression, common bedfellows of sleepless nights.

The relationship between mental health and sleep seems to be bi-directional. While issues like anxiety and depression frequently lead to sleep disorders, sleep deprivation can contribute to the onset or exacerbation of those issues and others. 

Dr. Smita Patel, an integrative neurologist and sleep medicine physician says, “Certainly if you didn’t have anxiety and depression before but now you’re not getting sleep, you may notice yourself feeling depressed and anxious. And if you have depression or anxiety that isn’t being well treated, that can make it harder to get good sleep and can lead to sleep disorders.” 

Ready for a curve ball? There’s actually such a thing as “wake therapy” as a treatment for depression. And supposedly it’s pretty effective.

Sleep deprivation is literally torture. 

Okay, the jury is still out on whether or not you can consider sleep deprivation literal torture. But it’s been used as a method of interrogation that pretty much no one wants to endure. 

Back in the day, sleep deprivation was used to torture people accused of being witches. Needless to say, after enough time passed, the aforementioned psychotic episodes did not do much for the innocent. 

Get some sleep!

Sleep just might be a miracle drug. It’s certainly a pretty good first stop along the way of optimizing your brain health and taking control of your thought life.