How many times have you seen the seemingly insurmountable woes of an overtired child cured miraculously by naptime? It’s simple enough to recognize sleep deprivation for what it is when your toddler gets fussy or you can’t keep the kids from squabbling in the backseat, but it can be all too easy to forget that the same basic needs of infants and children don’t disappear as we age. Food, water, shelter, relationship, clothing, touch….. sleep. Each of us needs it and we probably only fool ourselves if we think we can get by without it. Not only is the body prone to suffer when we don’t get adequate rest, but cognitive and emotional health take a hit as well. In his article on the effects of sleep deprivation, Dr. Mercola lists many of the results of even one night of poor sleep including slower reaction time, poor memory and learning capabilities, declines in cognitive processes, and heightened emotional response. Regarding the latter he states:
“As your reaction time and cognition slows, your emotions will be kicked into high gear. This means that arguments with co-workers or your spouse are likely, and you’re probably going to be at fault for blowing things out of proportion.
The amygdala controls basic emotions like fear and anger. As discussed in the film, another area of your brain called your frontal cortex, plays a key role in the regulation of emotions, and sleep is vital for its function.
When you’re well rested, your frontal cortex is nicely connected to your amygdala—that deep emotional center—and works almost like “a break to your emotional gas pedal.”
Sleep deprivation causes a disconnect between these two brain centers, allowing your emotions to run amok. Sleep deprivation also plays an important role in mental illness, and tends to result in more adverse psychiatric outcomes.”
Prioritizing sleep can result in mental clarity and better emotional stability. Approach complex and challenging emotional situations from a stronger, more stable place by getting the recommended 8+ hours each night. Your body will thank you, your mind will thank you, your heart will thank you, your friends (and family, and coworkers, and community) will thank you!