Almost everyone at one time or another has felt that
down-in-the-dumps, doom and gloom feeling. It’s
as if it appears out of nowhere, only it doesn’t!
It turns out that our gotta go, 24/7 lifestyles are
starting to get the better of us—at least where our
moods are concerned.
Low moods or depression could be caused by inadequate
sleep. Whether it’s that exam you’ve been dreading, the
horrible date you can’t seem to get out of your mind or the
insurmountable workload ahead of you, lack of consistent
quality sleep will take its toll on your physical and emotional
health. And it doesn’t take all that much sleep loss to get the
dark clouds to show either.1
It Doesn’t Take Much
Studies support the fact that even one or two nights of sleep
disruption can cause significant changes to brain chemistry,
which negatively affects our moods. If you’re someone who
truly believes you only need four to six hours of sleep per night
to get by because you happen to be one of those “go-getters,”
think again, because all you may be getting is a case of the
blues. In fact, one study from the University of Pennsylvania
found that when subjects were allowed only 4.5 hours of sleep
per night for a one-week period, they all described feelings of
mental exhaustion, anger, sadness and excess stress during
the day. All it took was a few days of a normal sleep cycle to get
these subjects to smile again.2
Unfortunately, less and less of us are getting enough
quality sleep. It’s been estimated that we sleep 25 percent less
than our ancestors did even though our body has remained
relatively unchanged. While the average amount of shuteye of
our great grandparents in 1900 was nine hours, most people
currently check in at a paltry seven.
The amount of severely sleep-deprived people seems to be
exploding. Almost a third of all North Americans now sleep less
than six hours per night. Pretty crazy stuff when you consider
that the former President of the United States, Bill Clinton, once
admitted to only getting four to five hours of sleep each night.3
Alarmingly, the vast majority of our new sleep habits cropped
up over the last 10 years or so. Our modern life is filled with
text messages, energy shots, and brightly lit computer screens
that keep us up well after our bodies are clamoring for a soft
bed and comfy pillow.
Following are some important facts about the relationship of sleep deprivation and depression that you must be well aware of:
- Adequate sleep enhances a person’s well-being.
- Anxiety from lack of sleep further causes agitation that could lead to chronic insomnia.
- Difficulty sleeping is the first sign of depression.
- Sleep restores chemical balances in the brain and body.
How Sleep-Debt Hurts
Scientists have always thought that the brain organizes and
restores everything while we sleep (especially memories). This
is why lack of sleep seems to disorganize our body functions
and everything else in between.
Although sleep-researchers have proposed various
theories about why lack of sleep makes us so moody, it wasn’t
until quite recently that scientists pinpointed the exact reason.
It turns out that our emotional well-being is to a large part
regulated by healthy sleep patterns. For instance, research
presented by the National Institute of Mental Health in
Bethesda, Maryland, showed that people who experience a lack
of quality sleep on a regular basis (called accumulating sleep
debt) experience interference with the functional regulation
of the amygdala—an area of the brain responsible for the
processing of our memories and emotional reactions. This
interference causes an overreaction of the amygdala, pushing
it towards negative emotional stimuli.4
From Bad to Worse
The National Institutes of Health recently found that a battery
of “cutting edge” sleeping pills only boost sleep time anywhere
from 11 to 19 minutes.5 When it comes to side effects,
prescription sleep aids make you act like you’ve just come
from another planet. Many regular users report driving without
remembering, sex that they can’t recall, and conversations that
never registered in their minds. In other words, amnesia. A
paid mouthpiece for drug companies, Gary S. Richardson, MD
told the New York Times in chilling fashion, “If you forget how
long you lay in bed tossing and turning, in some ways that’s
just as good as sleeping.” Sorry Dr. Richardson, but wiping our
memories a la Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is not my idea of
When evaluating natural sleep aids, you should look for
a mechanism of action that is effective, yet safe. Any natural
formula for sleep enhancement should work by:
- Boosting melatonin or tryptophan levels in the brain.
- Blocking the tryptophan-destroying enzyme IDO (indoleamine 2, 3-dioxygenase).
- Lowering high levels of circulating stress hormones.
Don’t let unhealthy sleeping habits get the best of you and
turn you into someone you’re not. Get to the bottom of your
sleeping problems to keep your moods in check and instead
of using side-effect riddled and habit-forming drugs, try
introducing research-proven side-effect free nutrients like;
melatonin, Ziziphus jujube, theanine, and 5-HTP, before bed in
order to experience the Ultimate Sleep.
Note: All of the nutrients (and more) mentioned above, can be found in the product Ultimate Sleep—available through:
- Regestein Q, “Sleep debt and depression in female college students.” Psychiatry Res. 2010 Mar 30;176(1):34–9. doi:10.1016/j.psychres.2008.11.006. Epub 2010 Jan 15.
- Dinges, D. et al., Cumulative Sleepiness, Mood Disturbance and Psychomotor Vigilance Decrements During a Week of Sleep Restricted to 4–5 Hours Per Night. Sleep. 1997 Apr; 20 (4): 267–77.
- Sylvestre-Williams, R. “Three Reasons You Need More Sleep.” Forbes on-line). 2012, July 31.
- Motomura Y, Mishima K. [Sleep and emotion: the role of sleep in emotion regulation]. Brain Nerve. 2014 Jan;66(1):15–23.
- Saul S. Sleep Drugs Found Only Mildly Effective, but Wildly Popular. NYTimes.com. October 23rd 2007.