Our health is dependent on getting enough sleep every night. In fact, people who get the rest they need get sick less often, are less likely to develop serious health problems, and experience better weight regulation, among many other benefits. (1) (2)

When we lack rest, our ability to regulate our emotions takes a big hit. In particular, we have likely all experienced feeling out of sorts after spending a night tossing and turning. This effect is especially pronounced in children, and the dreaded tantrums and breakdowns are unsurprising results of missed naps and late bedtimes. Hence, the key is to get enough rest for mental and emotional health.

This is true for adults as well; we’re just slightly better at hiding it. Missing out on the rest we need impacts our mental and emotional health in distinct ways.

The Importance of Sleep for Mental and Emotional Health

Poor Sleep Makes It Difficult to Interact Well with Other People

If you’ve ever been short with a co-worker or family member because you felt tired, you know this firsthand.

When the brain is exhausted, it struggles to interpret social cues or emotions correctly. (3) Emotional regulation and empathy are also more challenging. (4) The combination of these factors causes us to respond to others in less constructive ways than we would if we were running on a full night’s rest.

Poor sleep makes it difficult to interact well with other people

Insufficient Sleep Impairs Emotional Regulation

When we are short on rest, we are more emotionally sensitive and reactive. (5) At night, the brain performs essential functions that process the day’s stress and emotions. Even dreaming may play a role in managing our emotional state. (5) As a result, certain emotions such as anger may be more pronounced when we are short on sleep. (6)

Without enough rest, our ability to manage and constructively process our emotions is less than optimal, and this can therefore have a trickle-down effect on everything we do.

Lack of Sleep Is Associated with Higher Rates of Mental Illness

Many mental illnesses are known to cause insomnia or difficulty sleeping. (7) An imbalance in the brain’s hormones and signaling impacts regular body functions such as circadian rhythm and how the brain winds down to rest.

Poor sleep is also a risk factor for developing a mental illness such as anxiety and depression. (8)

When we get the amount and quality of rest we need, our brains can detoxify and experience the full benefit of relaxation throughout the night. Any disruption to these processes puts us at risk not only for physical illness but also mental illness.

sleep for mental and emotional health

Sleep Allows Us to Be Our Best Selves

Truly, our ability to manage our emotions dictates whether we approach life with grace and ease or from a state of agitation and chaos. Sleep is key to this process and a non-negotiable part of a life of wellness. It’s hard to underestimate the importance of sleep.

When we prioritize getting the rest we need every night, we put our ability to be our best selves front and center. Waking up each day equipped to handle whatever joys or stresses come our way is essential for living a full and healthy life.

Therefore, give yourself permission to get the sleep you need. It will make you happier, decrease stress, and better able to connect with the people you care about. In other words, sleep makes everything better.