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by Pranav Bolla, M.A.

Sleep stands as one of the most important factors towards our health in our day to day lives. While we may feel inclined in times to skimp on sleep in order to get more things done in the week, sleep stands as one of our most important needs throughout the week towards better success in life. Sleep has been specifically linked towards protection from the development of various health disorders such as cardiovascular disease (Luyster, Strollo JR, P.J., Zee, & Walsh, 2012), improvement and maintenance of weight and muscle development (Franquelo-Morales et al., 2018), memory functioning (Diekelmann & Born, 2010), and learning (Curcio, Ferrara, & De Gennaro, 2006).  Sleep, REM sleep in particular, has specifically been identified as the means by which our body removes waste by-products from our brain and maintaining neurophysiological health (Lewis, 2021). Suffice to say, sleep is critically important to our mental health and functioning. 


It is not surprising then that sleep, and stress are evidenced to have a strong connection between each other. General life stress has a strong effect on our bodies, one of which affects the neurobiological structure that regulate our ability to fall asleep, maintain sleep, and ensure that our sleep is effective in the processes it supports (Martire, Caruso, Pallagini, Zoccoli, & Bastianini, 2020). Indeed, chronic stress is found to have a profound effect upon brain waves which is linked to multiple outcomes across our life span (Hall, Casement, Troxel, & Matthews, 2015) and improvement in stress has been linked towards improvement in sleep quality and associated effects (Willert, Thulstrup, Hertz, & Bonde, 2010). Likewise, the quality of our sleep has a strong relationship between our ability to handle stress. For example, researchers found that across many factors, improvement in sleep quality has a direct effect on life stress and mental overall in multiple studies (Scoot et al., 2021).


Given this relationship between stress and sleep, it is clear then the relationship between specific mental health disorders and sleep (Freeman, Sheaves, Waite, Harvey, & Harrison, 2020). Indeed, insomnia (lack of sleeping) and hypersomnia (excessive sleep) are specifically associated with Major Depressive Disorder and Seasonal Affective Disorder (Nutt, Wilson, & Paterson, 2008). Likewise, anxiety disorders and sleep quality/patterns are found to be linked together, with sleep problems being associated with anxiety and trauma concerns due to worrisome thoughts preventing one from getting and stay asleep; this is associated in reverse with sleep problems found to worsen these concerns due to fatigue reducing one’s ability to control their worrisome thoughts (Nutt, Wilson, & Paterson, 2008). Other disorders such as ADHD have links towards sleep, whether by hyperactivity and inattention affecting one’s ability to get to sleep and lack of sleep amplifying attention span concerns. Poor sleep and mental health often have a relationship that leads to a vicious cycle where poor sleep may impact the quality of one’s mental health which then leads to worsen sleep.


Sleep thus stands as an important areas of psychological treatment with a focus of identifying difficulties related to sleeping, habits related to sleeping patterns, and improvement of the quality of sleep. Here at Interaction Dynamics, treatment involves not only addressing the common concerns related to various mental health concerns but means by which to improve and address factors such as sleep that may be related to daily life stress and the struggles of mental health. Sleep hygiene skills are one way we may work with our clients in order to improve the quality of their lives. Many different concerns may have different impacts on one’s sleep, and one’s own sleep patterns may play a contributory role in their mental health and stress. Identifying behaviors such as alcohol use, screen time, and night routines can be targets for improving each night’s rest. Likewise, sleep difficulties may be indicative of mental health disorders and neurological disorders and could be indicative of a greater concern and may be the sign that assessment or therapeutic services may be needed. 


Sleep is our secret weapon towards maintaining both our bodily health and our mental health. If you have noticed significant changes in your sleeping patterns or restfulness, please do not hesitate to reach out to our clinicians at Interaction Dynamics.  



Curcio, G., Ferrara, M., & De Gennaro, L. (2006). Sleep loss, learning capacity and academic performance. Sleep medicine reviews10(5), 323-337.

Diekelmann, S., & Born, J. (2010). The memory function of sleep. Nature Reviews Neuroscience11(2), 114-126.

Franquelo-Morales, P., Sánchez-López, M., Notario-Pacheco, B., Miota-Ibarra, J., Lahoz-García, N., Gómez-Marcos, M. Á., & Martínez-Vizcaíno, V. (2018). Association between health-related quality of life, obesity, fitness, and sleep quality in young adults: The cuenca adult study. Behavioral Sleep Medicine16(4), 347-355.

Freeman, D., Sheaves, B., Waite, F., Harvey, A. G., & Harrison, P. J. (2020). Sleep disturbance and psychiatric disorders. The Lancet Psychiatry7(7), 628-637.

Hall, M. H., Casement, M. D., Troxel, W. M., Matthews, K. A., Bromberger, J. T., Kravitz, H. M., ... & Buysse, D. J. (2015). Chronic stress is prospectively associated with sleep in midlife women: the SWAN sleep study. Sleep38(10), 1645-1654.

Lewis, L. D. (2021). The interconnected causes and consequences of sleep in the brain. Science374(6567), 564-568.

Luyster, F. S., Strollo Jr, P. J., Zee, P. C., & Walsh, J. K. (2012). Sleep: a health imperative. Sleep35(6), 727-734.

Martire, V. L., Caruso, D., Palagini, L., Zoccoli, G., & Bastianini, S. (2020). Stress & sleep: A relationship lasting a lifetime. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews117, 65-77.

Nutt, D., Wilson, S., & Paterson, L. (2008). Sleep disorders as core symptoms of depression. Dialogues in clinical neuroscience, 10(3), 329–336.

Uhde, T. W., Cortese, B. M., & Vedeniapin, A. (2009). Anxiety and sleep problems: emerging concepts and theoretical treatment implications. Current psychiatry reports11(4), 269-276.

Willert, M. V., Thulstrup, A. M., Hertz, J., & Bonde, J. P. (2010). Sleep and cognitive failures improved by a three-month stress management intervention. International journal of stress management17(3), 193.


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