The Link Between Sleep and Mood

By Summer Banks FNS, SPT on Jan 13, 2021

It is important for everyone to make sure that they get enough sleep at night. Sadly, too many people fall way short of the recommended number of hours of sleep. Between personal obligations, career demands, and bad habits, there are numerous obstacles that get in the way of someone getting enough sleep on a nightly basis. Additionally, when people aim for added productivity, they unknowingly sacrifice their own mental health in the process.

If you don’t get enough sleep at night, you might be sacrificing your mood in the process. The brain needs to get enough sleep on a nightly basis in order to recharge. When the brain doesn’t get enough sleep, signals can get crossed, neurotransmitter levels start to fluctuate, and your mood fluctuates in the process.

If you would like to improve your mood during the day, it is important for you to get enough sleep at night. This starts with understanding the link between sleep and mood. How much sleep should you get at night and how does your mood suffer when you fall short?

What Is the Recommended Number of Hours of Sleep at Night?

hours of sleep

According to information that has been published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, the recommended number of hours of sleep per night varies by about eight hours. In general, as people get older, the number of hours of sleep they require decreases.

At the same time, there are people of every age group who are falling short of the recommended goal. Before people are able to get the recommended number of hours of sleep they need at night, it is critical to look at this information.

Newborn babies younger than 3 months of age need somewhere between 14 hours and 17 hours of sleep per night. Basically, unless they are feeding, they should be asleep. Additionally, infants between the ages of 4 months and 12 months need somewhere between 12 hours and 16 hours of sleep per night. This includes naps.

Toddlers between 1 and 2 years of age require between 11 hours and 14 hours of sleep per night. In addition to a longer sleep at night, many toddlers will take one or two naps that last for about an hour during the day.

On the other hand, children of pre-school aged between three and five years require somewhere between 10 hours of sleep in 13 hours of sleep per night. Many children who are in preschool still take one nap during the day, which is included in this total. Children in elementary and middle school require somewhere between 9 hours and 12 hours of sleep per night. Teenagers require between 8 and 10 hours of sleep per night.

Even though a lot of teenagers try to make up their sleep debt by sleeping in on the weekends, this is not necessarily good for their sleep hygiene. On the other hand, adults require somewhere between seven and eight hours of sleep per night.

When individuals do not get enough sleep at night, their emotional and physical health will suffer. Therefore, it is critical to take a closer look at how your emotional health might be impacted by your sleep totals.

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The Link Between Sleep and Depression Is Strong

First, depression is far more common than many people realize. Issues related to sleep and depression tend to go hand-in-hand. For example, one research study published in Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience indicates that more than three-quarters of people with depression have some form of sleep issue.

This number is significant because by tackling sleep issues, people may be able to improve their symptoms of depression. That way, they may be able to break free from prescription medication regimen simply by improving the quality of sleep. This relationship is increasingly complex and as more research is done, so it is important to dive into the details.

Depression and sleep go together in multiple ways. First, symptoms of depression can impact your sleep. There are people who suffer from depression who have trouble falling asleep at night. Additionally, some people with depression may end up sleeping the entire day. Symptoms of sleep problems can also lead to depression, so there are some situations where the cause and effects can be reversed.

Prior research studies, specifically one published in Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience have documented the effect that depression has on sleep extensively. On the other hand, the impact of sleep on depression is still being explored. For example, one recent study published in Sleep found that people who have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep at night can increase the likelihood of someone developing depression by nearly 10 times.

This is important, because people who suffer from these sleep issues and depression may not have believed that the two were related. This research study shows that this is possible, which may change the way both are treated. In fact, the relationship between sleep issues and depression may be a two-way street.

For individuals who suffer from both sleep issues and depression, there are multiple treatment options available. These are some of the treatment options available:

  • Medications can treat depression, making it easier for someone to fall asleep
  • It can be helpful for people to meet with a therapist and engaged and treatment options such as cognitive behavioral therapy
  • For individuals who wake up in the middle of the night with shortness of breath, there are medical masks that can help people keep the airway open as they sleep, making it easier for them to sleep through the night

Ultimately, there is a very strong link between depression and sleep. Recent research has shown that this is a two-way street. This means that depression can lead to sleep problems and sleep issues can lead to depression. When both issues are addressed in a comprehensive manner, the prognosis of individuals will improve.

Examining The Link Between Sleep and Anger

In addition, there is also a strong link between sleep issues and anger. Even though you are probably familiar with the bags underneath your eyes that form when you do not get enough sleep at night, a lack of sleep could also lead to anger issues.

For example, one research study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology revealed that individuals who lose out on an extra hour or two of sleep per night are prone to developing anger issues. In many situations, these anger issues develop because they are incapable of adapting to frustrating situations. Instead of being able to think through these issues, they simply respond by getting angry.

During the study, more than 140 people were divided into two groups. The first group maintained a normal sleep schedule. The second group cut their sleep schedule short.

While the group that maintained a normal sleep schedule averaged more than 7 hours of sleep per night, the group that cut their sleep schedule short averaged fewer than five. The two groups were exposed to various situations the next day and the group that did not get enough sleep the night before reacting to changing situations with a lot of anger.

When you did not get enough sleep the night before, there is a chance that you will wing up in similar situations. Perhaps you were unable to think through a certain question on a test, or something may have changed at work that you were unable to adapt to quickly. If you are able to get enough sleep on a nightly basis, your brain may be able to respond to these situations easier.

If you are looking for a way to reverse the anchor that you feel during the day, the first step is to recognize the issue. Anger is going to be a problem if you do not get enough sleep the night before. It is a good idea for you to avoid frustrating tasks whenever possible if you did not get enough sleep.

Simply save them for another day when you feel well-rested. If you do something you regret because you are angry, you will not be able to unring that bell. If you have a few free minutes during the day, it might be a good idea to take a nap.

Make sure that you set an alarm to remind yourself to wake up. Otherwise, you may end up sleeping for several hours, disrupting your sleep schedule even more.
Overall, when you do not get enough sleep at night, you are prone to developing an increase in negative emotions. In addition to anger, you may develop anxiety, restlessness, and sadness. Furthermore, you might notice that you are unable to experience positive emotions in the same way.

For all of these reasons, it is important for you to make sure that you got enough sleep at night. As the research study showed, even a night or two of reduced sleep can have a severe impact on your ability to regulate your mood the next day. The link between sleep and anger is strong, so if you want to regulate your mood, it is important for you to get enough sleep.

It may also help you sleep at night knowing you have a comprehensive health program like Noom backing you up. We like this weight-loss app because it offers tons of tools – like 1:1 coaching and custom meal plans – to help users lose weight and keep it off. Right now, Noom is offering a free trial offer for a limited time, so make sure to check it out!

Exploring The Link Between Sleep and Emotional Lability

sleep and emotions

Emotional lability is a term that describes fluctuations between periods of happiness, sadness, and anger. If you do not get enough sleep the night before, your emotional lability is going to increase. Even on a typical day, there are times when you were going to be happy, times you are going to be angry, and times you are going to be sad.

When you do not get enough sleep, these fluctuations are going to be larger. Therefore, emotional lability is going to become more noticeable. You may get in a fight with a co-worker, an argument with your spouse, or even lose your cool with your children. If you don’t get enough sleep the night before, these reactions are going to be more impulsive and intense.

Clearly, none of these situations are going to contribute to a happy, healthy relationship, since emotional lability goes far beyond a single cranky moment. If you feel irritable on a good day, your emotions are going to completely control you on a day that you do not get enough sleep. When even a single night of poor sleep can lead to emotional lability, carrying a chronic sleep debt is even worse.

This emotional lability comes from the center of the brain called the amygdala, according to the Journal of Neuroscience. The amygdala is the part of the brain that is responsible for controlling a lot of your emotional reactions. If you do not get enough sleep at night, your amygdala is going to be more reactive the next day. As a result, you are going to react with more intensity in various situations.

When you do not get enough sleep, you are going to react more strongly to the entire spectrum of emotions, both positive and negative. It just so happens that negative emotions tend to get more attention from those around you.

In addition, when you do not get enough sleep at night, the communication between your amygdala and the prefrontal cortex is also hampered, according to one study published in Sleep. Your prefrontal cortex is responsible for handling a lot of complicated tax during the course of the day. For example, your prefrontal cortex is responsible for putting the brakes on impulsive situations. In this manner, your prefrontal cortex is responsible for helping you think through a complicated situation instead of acting on pure emotion.

The reality is, when you do not get enough sleep, this critical part of the brain is not able to do its job. Your central nervous system does not work as well as it should, and bring communication throughout your brain. Even though there are times when we are not going to get enough sleep, it is important for us to be aware of how this sleep deprivation is going to impact us.

Being aware of the disadvantage we carry the next day may allow us to avoid certain situations. No matter how hard we try to avoid emotionally-charged situations, there are situations where some of them are simply unavoidable. When we are more cognizant of everything that is going on around us, we are able to handle it better.

Looking at The Link Between Sleep and Stress

Stress has a lot of negative consequences, as it impacts our mental health, our physical health, and our emotional health. When we feel stress, the autonomic nervous system takes control, and our heart rate increases.

After our blood pressure increases, certain hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol, encourage our body to circulate oxygen and nutrients to various parts of the body. This is what many people are talking about when they describe a fight or flight response. On the other hand, chronic stress can lead to serious issues. For example, when we are under a tremendous amount of stress for an extended amount of time, it can make it hard for our bodies to fall asleep at night.

That fight or flight response places us in a heightened state of alertness, which can cause individuals to have trouble falling asleep at night. Of course, the link between stress and sleep is a two-way street. When we do not get enough sleep the night before, we are unable to deal with complicated situations the next day. Even the small changes in our daily routine can set us off.

Our emotional lability can impact our relationships with peers, colleagues, and our family members – in addition to making it hard for us to complete everything we have to do during the course of the day. When we do not get everything done, this only makes our stress worse.

Clearly, this can lead to a positive feedback loop that can lead to negative consequences for our health. It is critical for us to think about how we can better control our stress so that we can get the amount of sleep we need every night.

Try to exercise on a regular basis. Regular exercise can make it easier for everyone to fall asleep at night in addition to helping us create a healthy outlet for our stress. Consider meditating at night before bed as well. Simply taking a few minutes to try to calm the mind before crawling under the blankets and make it easier for us to fall asleep.

Finally, everyone should remember that there are people available to lend emotional support to those in need. This includes family members, friends, and professional therapists. Sometimes, it can be helpful to simply talk things through.

In order for people to better control their stress levels, it is important to get enough sleep at night. When we get enough sleep at night, we will be able to deal with a complicated situation better during the next day, helping us reduce stress.

You can also reduce the stress in your life by choosing a program like Noom, which makes users’ lives easier by offering 1:1 human coaching, personalized meal plans, easy-to-use food logging, and daily goals. If you are ready to give Noom a try, make sure to check out their free trial offer.

Looking at Sleep Deprivation and the Central Nervous System

Sleep deprivation can have a variety of impacts on the central nervous system. Sometimes, people don’t even realize they are suffering from sleep deprivation. Some of the biggest signs of sleep deprivation include:

  • A feeling of excessive sleepiness during the day
  • Irritability, short tempers, and impulsive responses
  • A feeling of “blanking out” or “daydreaming” regularly
  • Frequent yawning

Even though it is true that some stimulants, such as caffeine, can cause people to feel more awake for a few hours, this is not going to be enough to reverse a chronic sleep debt. Furthermore, caffeine may make it harder for people to fall asleep at night.

Chronic sleep deprivation can severely disrupt the way that the central nervous system processes information. When we go to bed at night, pathways form between the cells in our central nervous system. It is the job of these pathways to help us remember new information that we have learned during the previous day. When we deprive the brain of sleep, the brain remains tired, making it unable to execute its duties properly.

In addition, sleep deprivation can have a severe impact on our emotional health as well. You may realize that you are more impatient, impulsive, and prone to developing mood swings. They can also make it harder for you to think through multi-step processes and can impair your creativity.

Furthermore, chronic sleep deprivation may also make it more likely for you to develop clinical mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, and other problems. For individuals who suffer from bipolar disorder, sleep deprivation can make it more likely for them to enter a manic episode.

You may also notice that sleep deprivation impacts your memory. When you go to bed at night, you solidify your memories from that day. That is why when people wake up tired the next day, they may have a hard time remembering what happened during the prior day. Chronic sleep deprivation can impact not only short-term memory but long-term memory as well.

Of course, sleep deprivation can also have a negative impact on your ability to operate heavy machinery. For example, you may doze off behind the wheel of the car. You might also be more prone to something called “highway hypnosis.” That’s why it is important for you to make sure that you do not operate a motor vehicle while tired.

Obviously, there are lots of impacts of sleep deprivation may have on the central nervous system. The good news is that there are multiple ways that you can avoid sleep deprivation and improve your sleep hygiene at night. That way, you can preserve your central nervous system and increase your ability to function well the next day.

What Are the Best Ways To Avoid Sleep Deprivation?

avoid sleep deprivation

If you are looking for ways to improve your mood, then it is critical for you to make sure that you get enough sleep on a regular basis. The reality is that if you do not get enough sleep at night, you are going to be more emotionally labile the next day.

Make sure that you expose yourself to bright, natural light on a regular basis. Research published in JAAPA has shown that exposing yourself to natural sunlight can improve your circadian rhythm. This matters because your circadian rhythm is responsible for placing your body in a routine of waking up and falling asleep at night.

If you expose yourself to more natural sunlight during the day, your circadian rhythm is going to have an easier time telling your body when it is time to wake up and when it is time to go to sleep. That way, when you crawl into bed at night, you will fall asleep faster. Another study published in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry showed that adults who exposed themselves to bright, natural light for 2 hours per day were able to get two extra hours of sleep at night.

Another well-documented tip that you should follow to avoid sleep deprivation is to avoid blue light exposure in the evening. Blue light is emitted by screens such as TV screens, computer screens, and phone screens. This blue light stimulates our brains, keeping us awake. If you avoid blue light before bed, you will be able to fall asleep more easily at night. There are applications that you can download and glasses that you can wear if you need to use screens before bed.

Even though a lot of people feel tired in the afternoon, it is critical to avoid napping during the day. Even though it is true that napping for 15 or 20 minutes can help us get through the day, one of the hardest parts is waking up after the nap. According to research published in Behavioral Neuroscience, sleeping during the day can confuse your internal clock.

It is important for you to keep your internal clock functioning properly so that you have an easier time falling asleep when you crawl into bed at night. If you do need to nap during the day, you may want to experiment a little bit and see when you need to wake up in order for you to still fall asleep at night.

If you are wondering why you end up laying in bed awake at night, then you may want to take a look at your bedroom environment. Even though your bedroom is the most personal area of your home, it is important for you to think about how this impacts your ability to fall asleep at night. Keep in mind that your bedroom is supposed to help your mind feel calm.

If your bedroom is very busy, then it might play a role in keeping your mind wait. The temperature of your bedroom, the noise in the room, and even the arrangement of your decor can have an impact on your ability to fall asleep, according to Life Sciences. Think about aiming for a minimalist approach in your bedroom to make it easier for you to fall asleep at night.

If you feel like taking a warm bath or shower helps you fall asleep at night, you may be right. For example, one medical study published in The European Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology explored individuals who took a hot bath between 1 and 2 hours before bed.

The study found that individuals who took a hot bath between 1 and 2 hours before bed helped people reach a state of deep sleep more quickly. The feeling of warm water on the skin can help the mind and the body calm down. Therefore, you are already in a relaxed state of mind when you climb into bed, allowing you to drift off to sleep more easily.

Finally, exercise on a regular basis, but do not exercise too close to bedtime. For example, if you need to vent some stress when you get back from school or work, this might be a good time to do it. If you try to exercise about an hour before bed, the adrenaline that you’ve released during your workout may end up keeping you awake. In addition to improving your physical health, exercise can help you fall asleep as well.

These are a few of the most important tips that you should keep in mind if you are looking for ways to avoid sleep deprivation. In addition to these tips, it may be helpful to meet with a trained medical professional to rule out a specific sleep issue. Even if you are not suffering from a specific sleep condition, a medical professional might be able to provide you with some other tips that can help you improve your sleep hygiene at night.

Keeping your health in check to avoid sleep deprivation can be even easier with a program like Noom. With daily goals, recipe ideas, educational lessons, and health tracking tools, Noom makes it easy to make healthy choices and lose weight along the way. Make sure to check out their free trial offer, which is only available for a limited time!

Are There Foods That Can Improve Your Sleep Quality?

There are even a few foods that might be able to help you improve the quality of your sleep at night. Think asleep at the body’s recovery phase. The muscles rebuild themselves, the brain is provided with a chance to recharge, and you are able to think clearly the next day.

Sleep quality can have a massive impact on your emotional stability during the next day. The good news is that there are ways that you can improve your diet and sleep quality at the same time. Even a few small dietary changes can help you sleep better at night, helping you feel more recharged the next day.

Consider Some Chamomile Tea

First, think about reaching for some tea when you are getting ready for bed at night. Read the package carefully because some forms of tea contain caffeine.
On the other hand, chamomile tea has been used to help people fall asleep for a long amount of time, according to Molecular Medical Report. It is easy to see how this may make it easier for you to fall asleep.

Reach for a Glass of Warm Milk

A lot of people only warm-up their milk when they are trying to make hot chocolate. On the other hand, this classic old family remedy does contain a bit of truth to it. Milk contains a specific amino acid called tryptophan. Tryptophan is an amino acid that has been well-documented to help people fall asleep.

For example, tryptophan is also present in high amounts in turkey. That is why a lot of people end up entering a “food coma” after Thanksgiving dinner. The tryptophan in a glass of warm milk will help you sleep better. The warm liquid will help you relax your mind and the tryptophan will help you fall asleep.

The benefits of warm milk at night are not just related to tryptophan consumption, though. Some of the sleep-promoting effects of milk are thought to be due to its psychological association with having milk at night as a baby, according to one study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food. During this research, warm milk at night was also found to decrease incidences of anxiety.

Consider Eating Salmon with Dinner

Tryptophan isn’t present only in dairy products, it is present and other meats as well. In addition to Turkey, tryptophan can also be found in salmon. Salmon is high in a wide variety of amino acids, which is why is protein content is so high.

One specific amino acid is tryptophan. Tryptophan helps you fall asleep because it forms the foundation of a variety of neurotransmitters, including serotonin. When you provide your body with the tryptophan it needs, its nervous system is able to communicate more effectively. This may also play a role in helping you fall asleep.

The vitamin D content in salmon may also help you fall asleep. One study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that fish consumption in general may play a beneficial role in sleep and overall health. Even more research published in Advances in Nutrition found that fish consumption, specifically fatty fish combined with vegetables, could help improve sleep. This is because the high nutrient amount found in fatty fishes like salmon can regulate serotonin and sleep cycles.

Munch on a Few Bananas

Many people love bananas because they are relatively inexpensive and incredibly nutritious. Furthermore, bananas may also be able to help you fall asleep at night. Bananas are rich in several minerals that play a key role in your ability to go to sleep at night.

The first is potassium. One study published in Current Biology indicated that potassium levels play an important role in sleep. When you consume enough potassium, you may find that it is easier to help you fall asleep at night. In addition, bananas are also high in magnesium. Another double-blind control study published in the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences showed that individuals to increase their magnesium intake will have an easier time falling asleep.

Basically, individuals who suffer from sleep problems may also benefit from more magnesium. Consume a little bit of extra potassium and magnesium in the former bananas before bed.

Dark Leafy Green Vegetables

Bananas aren’t the only source of magnesium. Some of the other major sources of magnesium include dark, leafy green vegetables. These include spinach, broccoli, and kale. Even though the exact relationship between magnesium and sleep isn’t quite clear, magnesium does play a role in regulating numerous and somatic processes in the brain.

When you provide your brain’s enzymes with the cofactors they need to carry out their daily operations, you make it easier for your body to relax and go to bed.

Reach for Melatonin Foods

Melatonin is a hormone that is produced naturally in your body that helps you fall asleep at night. Even though it can be taken directly as a supplement, you can also consume more melatonin naturally in certain foods.

Some of the foods that contain a lot of melatonin include pistachios, tomatoes, grapes, eggs, and certain types of fish. If you want to make it easier for you to fall asleep at night, consider eating more of these foods.

These are a few of the top dietary considerations that you may want to take into account if you are looking for a way to improve your sleep quality. In addition to consuming more of these foods, it is critical for you to avoid chocolate, certainties, and countless energy drinks if you want to make it easier for yourself to fall asleep at night. Stay away from alcohol as well.

Diet is often overlooked when it comes to improving the quantity and quality of the sleep that we got at night. If you take a look at your sleep from a comprehensive approach, you may find that you are able to better regulate your mood the next day.

Focus on a Steady Sleep Schedule for a More Stable Mood and a Better Quality of Life

sleep tips

Ultimately, there are lots of ways that you can improve the amount of sleep that you get at night. With better planning, some dietary changes, and a renewed focus on sleep hygiene, you can place your mind and your body to get enough sleep every evening. Even though it might take you a while to make up for sleep debt, you should notice your mood start to improve shortly after you change your sleep habits. Then, your physical health will start to improve along with it.

If you don’t address your sleep debt, then you place yourself at risk of developing anger, anxiety, depression, emotional lability, and serious stress issues. Your emotional health will impact your physical health if you do not focus on it. The two are inextricably linked and it is critical for you to approach your health in a well-rounded, comprehensive manner.

Therefore, make a commitment now to improve your sleep schedule, improve your sleep hygiene, and improve your overall quality of life.

Improving your quality of life involves a lot more than sleep though, which is why it is important to have a program like Noom supporting you. This clinically-backed weight-loss system uses health tracking, meal plans, food logging, daily goals, and more to help you lose weight and keep it off for good. If you are ready to give this program a try, make sure to check out the free trial offer available from Noom for a limited time.

About the Author:

Summer Banks has researched over 5000 weight-loss programs, pills, shakes and diet plans. Previously, she managed 15 supplement brands, worked with professionals in the weight loss industry and completed coursework in nutrition at Stanford University.