One of the first things to be pushed aside during our busy lives is sleep. It is important to remind yourself that sleep is essential for both your physical and mental health. Frequent loss of sleep can contribute to higher levels of anxiety, inability to cope with stress, and decreased physical and cognitive performance.
A perfect and timely example of this is experienced by students during assessment or exam time. In order to squeeze in enough study students often study late into the night telling themselves that they can make up for lost sleep once exam periods are over or the assessment is complete. Being tired, they experience difficulty focusing, make more mistakes, experience mood swings and negative self-talk as they struggle to perform and concentrate. Thinking they obviously aren’t studying enough they end up staying up later and later to get through the work. It can be hard for the student to see that this lack of sleep may the reason they are struggling to perform and function at their best.
Relationship between mental health and sleep
Whilst the relationship between mental health and sleep is a big topic to discuss here, it has long been known that those with psychological issues such as anxiety and depression do not sleep well. Those with anxiety, for example, may find it difficult to sleep as anxiety leaves them feeling agitated, aroused and alert. The resultant lack of sleep can worsen the feeling of irritation and agitation, thereby increasing their anxiety.
- Lack of sleep will affect your ability to cope with stress.
- Lack of sleep will affect your physical and cognitive performance.
- Lack of sleep is likely to increase the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Timely reminder for students
- Students who are wanting to function at their best should ensure that they are getting enough sleep.
- Sleep is a crucial aspect in maintaining good mental health, students with anxiety or depression are particularly affected by lack of sleep.
For those that are studying for the HSC ask yourself this question– Am I getting enough sleep? Would a few nights of good sleep be of more benefit than more hours of study?