Recap: Why sleep matters to you

Sleep is the foundation your physical and mental health rest on. Or rather it is healthy sleep – sleep of adequate duration and quality – that supports your health and wellbeing. It plays an active role in enabling your body and mind to function so that you can excel in all areas of life. 

The effects of unhealthy sleep

Inadequate sleep, meaning insufficient or poor quality, increases the risk of many physical illnesses and disease. For example, diabetes, weight gain and obesity, cardiovascular diseases, certain cancers, and even fertility problems are associated with inadequate sleep. But your physical health can also affect your sleep. Being in pain or suffering from allergies or eating late at night can make it harder to fall or stay asleep.

Mental health, that is, your psychological and emotional wellbeing, is also influenced by sleep. Low mood or depression, anxiety, emotional reactivity are all increased after poor sleep. In other words, sleep deprived makes it more likely to experience negative emotions, and you might find harder to read facial expressions accurately. But your desire to socialise or be with other people is also reduced in response to lack of sleep. Overtime, poor sleep can contribute to feelings of loneliness irrespective of age. And loneliness in turn can contribute to poor sleep. And so as for the nature of the relationship between physical health and sleep, the mental health and sleep also form a bi-directional relationship. 

Looking after your health means looking after your physical, mental and sleep health. Luckily, by taking care of one, you are likely to improve the other two, too.


Dr Kat