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Poor sleep increases the risk of mortality and mental disorders

Sleep is vital to being able to enjoy good physical and mental health, since not sleeping enough can increase the risk of mortality by up to 20% and have an impact on mental disorders. We offer advice to achieve correct sleep hygiene.

In Spain it is estimated that more than one 10% of the population suffers from some type of chronic and severe sleep disorder; and that more than one 30% of citizens wake up with the feeling of not sleeping well, of not having had a restful sleep, or end the day very tired.

This has been pointed out by Spanish Dream Society (SES) in the framework of World Sleep Day, on March 17, under the motto “Sleep is essential for health”, together with the Spanish Society of Dual Pathology (SEPD)given that sleep is a fundamental pillar of health both physically and mentally.

“Sleep is a vital function of the human being fundamental to the maintenance of good mental and physical health”, affirms the Dr. Ana Teijeira, clinical neurophysiologist and member of the SES.

Sleep, essential for good health

The neurophysiologist remembers that sleep not only promotes consolidation of memory or learningbut during this, several systems of the human body that promote good health are regulated, from the immune system, to the metabolic system and the cardiovascular system, also passing through the hormonal system.

In this sense, he clarifies: “You need good quality sleep so that all these systems can work well”.

The risks of a bad dream

However, “chronically maintained insufficient or poor quality sleep favors the appearance of a series of diseases that can have a serious impact on people’s quality of life and even increase the mortality,” explains Dr. Teijeira.

Specifically, he points out that poor sleep can add up to one 20% the risk of mortality and of having high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular events such as heart attacks or strokes, suffering from infections and certain types of cancer.

In addition to affecting the daytime cognitive tasksnecessary to be able to study or work concentrated, memorize, learn or coordinate.

Sleeping badly risks
Ana Teijeira, member of the SES and Carlos Roncero, president of the SEPD

Sleep disturbances also have an impact on mental health

Poor quality sleep and mental health problems have a two-way relationship, as noted by the doctor Carlos Roncero, head of the Psychiatry Service of the Salamanca University Care Complex (CAUSA) and president of the SEPD.

“To the 60-70% of mental disorders are associated with some sleep disorder, especially the insomnia. And around one in two patients with a chronic sleep disorder ends up developing some symptom of a mental disorder”, explains Roncero.

In this same line, it is specified that in the case of the dual pathologysleep disturbances are a “risk marker” for the severity of the addiction and for the relapse or poor evolution of the patients.

A problem that causes many people to resort to the consumption of repressor type substances to try to relieve some of the symptoms of insomnia, which is a mistake, since they generate a superficial and unrestorative sleep, which can lead to anxious or depressive pictures.

Decalogue for good sleep hygiene

In this way, follow some healthy habits they will help us to stop sleeping badly and get a good quality sleep. The member of the SES advises:

  1. Perform daily physical exercise adapted to personal conditions, never before going to bed.
  2. Maintain a heart-healthy Mediterranean diet with light and bland dinners it will help you sleep better.
  3. Avoid excessive alcohol intake at least four hours before going to bed and not smoking.
  4. Avoid the consumption of caffeine, tea, chocolate or energy drinks at least six hours before bed.
  5. to seek keep anxiety levels low during the day.
  6. Maintain a regular and stable sleep scheduletrying to go to bed and get up at the same time, on a reasonable schedule.
  7. must relate the bed to the dream. We don’t have to eat, watch TV or work on it.
  8. Avoid using illuminated screens in the hours before sleep.
  9. Don’t stay in bed if you’re wide awake to associate the bed only with sleep.
  10. If we can’t sleep, we have to get up and promote a relaxed activity that can block the anxiety derived from this lack of sleep. Reading, listening to the radio, taking a relaxing infusion, or doing mindfulness or relaxation exercises can help.

20% of children also have sleep problems

Children are also not exempt and, according to the Spanish Pediatric Association (AEP)the 20% presents difficulties with sleep throughout its development, either to initiate sleep or to maintain it during the night.

From the AEP they recommend five guidelines to improve the sleep quality of the little ones:

  1. Expose children to natural light in the early hours of the morning.
  2. Make sure they go to school walking or by bike to activate.
  3. Reduce physical activity three or four hours before the start of sleep.
  4. Don’t use screens two hours before going to bed
  5. have some regular meal times and try to do it for a while before going to bed.
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