Sleep and Your Mental Health

Shared by Dr. Erik Waldeland


Of the many things I prioritize in my life, sleep is among the things at the top.  We are always told growing up how important sleep is for us, and rightfully so.  There are hundreds, maybe even thousands of research studies that showcase the many benefits of getting enough sleep as we develop, and mental health and cognition may be the most important through our school-age years.  The research I have tagged below highlights the importance of sleep in adolescence and its role in supporting learning, memory, attention, cognition, and emotion processing.  Here are a couple key points from the research that stress the significance of sufficient sleep.

“Sleep loss is associated both with increased negative mood and heightened emotional reactivity to visual scenes and faces, as well as altered emotional memory processing”

“Many studies show that insufficient sleep is associated with poor emotional functioning in teens without diagnosed psychiatric disorders. For example, in non-clinical samples, less sleep is associated with more depressive symptoms, feelings of hopelessness, and greater anxiety.”

As we age, the benefits span well beyond just mental health and cognitive functioning.  It is well documented that sufficient sleep helps us maintain proper immune function, recover from physical activity better, and can even help with weight loss amongst many other benefits.  Getting enough sleep can come from creating a proper routine as you get ready for bed.  Ensuring you aren’t exposing yourself to too much screentime, as well as decreasing caffeine late in the day can be ways to combat a poor nights sleep, and finding this good routine for yourself can be a game-changer when it comes to getting better rest and waking up with more energy in the morning.


Tarokh, L., Saletin, J. M., & Carskadon, M. A. (2016). Sleep in adolescence: Physiology, Cognition and Mental Health. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 70, 182–188.

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