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Lack of sleep can lead to mental distress

Kinga Howard

We’ve all met someone who claims to only need four or five hours of sleep a night. Perhaps you’ve even envied their apparent ability to thrive with such little recuperation. But the truth of our need for sleep is a bit more eye-opening.

In a 2018 study reported by the CDC of nearly 300,000 adults across the life span, those who averaged less than six hours of sleep each night were 2.5 times more likely to have frequent mental distress. The distress primarily manifested as increased episodes of anxiety and depression, but psychotic episodes of mania and paranoia – as well as suicidality – were also observed. And for those already living with mild symptoms of nearly any mental health concern, the lack of adequate sleep significantly increased the effects of those concerns.

And it’s not just mental health. Sleep deficiency is also linked to higher incidences of heart and kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, and obesity.

The jury is still out on these issues being a cause or effect, since it has long been known that those with mental illness are more likely to have insomnia and other sleep disorders. But regardless of those eventual findings, it is clear that getting sufficient sleep – defined as more than seven hours a night – is a prerequisite to good mental health. Taking the time to get the sleep you need – if you’re able – will help all of Wichita rest easy.

Eric Litwiller has served the south central Kansas community through his work at Mental Health Association since September of 2017. As Director of Development and Communications, he is charged with seeking the private investment required to raise awareness of the scope of mental health concerns throughout the region in an effort to eliminate the unfair stigma associated with mental illness.