Sleeping. It’s what lots of people long for, but don’t always get. In such a busy day and age, we are always going to bed at a late time and waking up super early, which is probably taking a toll on our emotional wellbeing, or our mood.
There are many theories regarding the function of sleep, but we all know that it’s important because when we go with minimal rest, we usually feel really, really groggy. Sleep is important for multiple reasons – it allows our body to repair and rejuvenate itself from all of the day’s hard work, whether it is emotional, cognitive or physical. So overall, most of us can generally agree that without sleep, we aren’t functioning at our optimum level, and can feel really demotivated and moody.
Sleep deprivation has been showed to be associated with higher levels of anxious feelings through a wide range of research. One study1 conducted in Australia found that even one night of total sleep deprivation impaired all mood states across twelve adolescents – these moods states included depression, anger, confusion, anxiety, vigour and fatigue. This study did show that females were at a higher vulnerability, however the effects still took place on males as well.
Another study2, based in Japan, found that the later you go to bed & the shorter amount of time spent sleeping could increase your chances of developing mood disorders like depression and anxiety, including an increase in suicidal risk! These results were found to be statistically significant, which definitely shows we need to be cautious about our sleeping habits in order to decrease the chance of an onset of a mood disorder.
Overall, it’s important to acknowledge how our mood can affect all parts of our lives – our motivation, our happiness, our productivity, etc. Depending on your age, it is generally recommended to get around 8 hours of quality sleep per night, and if you are having sleeping difficulties it is recommended that you seek advice from you GP.
Sleep Cycles & Recommendations
Teenagers (12-18 year olds) should be getting around 8 – 10 hours of sleep per night, and adults (18+) should be getting 7 – 9 hours of sleep per night, to function optimally the next day. However, we understand that sometimes you might not have 8 hours of sleep time, depending on your lifestyle (e.g. you may be a shift worker). So keep reading for some tips on how you can optimise your sleep quality even when you can’t afford 8 or 9 hours of sleep. But before we discuss the tips, we need to define two key terms: NREM and REM sleep.
Stages of Sleep: 4 stages of NREM, and 1 stage of REM. One full sleep cycle lasts, on average, 90 minutes.
NREM: Non-Rapid Eye Movement provides 4 stages of sleep in one cycle. If you wake up in the third or fourth stage of NREM (these two stages are when you are in DEEP SLEEP), there is a big chance that you will wake up feeling groggy, disoriented, and experience a “waking up on the wrong foot” feeling. This is because your brain experiences delta waves (deep sleep). However, when we are awake, our brain waves are totally different from deep sleep waves, thus why we feel disoriented when we wake up in an NREM stage, particularly 3 or 4.
REM: Rapid Eye Movement is the stage where most dreams occur, and where our brain waves are most similar to our brain waves when we are fully awake. In REM sleep, our brains are totally active, so when we wake up in this stage, we are less likely to feel disoriented, as the brain waves are so similar to our wakeful state.
A standard good nights rest consists of 5-6 sleep cycles (5-6 sets of 90-minutes), on average. So, here’s the tip. Try timing your sleep in 90-minute cycles. Waking up at the end of a 90-minute cycle increases the chance of you waking up during a REM stage, thus encouraging a smooth transition into wakefulness. So even if you can only afford about 6 hours of sleep, there is a way to still wake up feeling refreshed and productive. There are various fantastic websites that provide ‘sleep-calculator’ services, just use Google for this.
1Short, M. A., & Louca, M. (2015). Sleep deprivation leads to mood deficits in healthy adolescents. Sleep Medicine, 16(8), 987 – 993.
2Matamura, M., Tochigi, M., Usami, S., Yonehara, Hiromi., Fukushima, M., Nishida, A., Togo, F., & Sasaki, T. (2014). Associations between sleep habits and mental health status and suicidality in a longitudinal survey of monozygotic twin adolescents. Journal of Sleep Research, 23(3), 292 – 296.