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[3-Minute Blog] Why Poor Sleep Makes You an Unpleasant Person

Reading Time: 3 minutes 30 seconds

Sleep is incredibly essential for a healthy body and healthy mind. Dr Matthew Walker puts this so eloquently in his bestseller book, Why We Sleep:

“Every major physiological system in your body, and every operation of the mind, is incredibly dependent on sleep, wonderfully enhanced when you get it, and markedly impaired when you don’t get enough.” 

So there is a reason why I have been going on about sleep for the fourth week in a row. As a nutrition and exercise coach, I would single-handedly say sleep is more essential for your health than nutrition and movement. Sure, they are pillars of good health, but sleep is the very foundation of good health.

Allah subuhanawuta’la in His endless Wisdom created sleep and declared it one of the signs of His greatness: “And among His signs is your sleep by night and by day and your seeking of His bounty, verily in that are Signs for those who listen” (Al Quran, 30:23)

We spend one-third of our life sleeping. The very reason that Allah subuhanawuta’la made it so shows that sleep has an incredible impact on our lives. There is not a single act that consumes more of our time than sleep. 

The goal of today’s article is this: To help you understand that poor sleep has a massive impact on your mental health, and how it can make you an unpleasant person to be around. 

How Your Lack of Sleep Destroys Your Mood and Mental Health

One of the most significant and most tangible results of sleep loss is clearly seen in your mood and mental health. It may be no news for you that lack of sleep makes you grumpy and insensitive. However, the latest scientific studies show that sleep deprivation also impacts your cognitive aptitude.

There are many pathways as to how this occurs. One of the most important ones is that sleep deprivation “shuts down” your prefrontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex is the front region of the brain which contributes to a wide variety of cognitive functions. Here are some of the roles of prefrontal cortex in relation to managing one’s mood and mental health.

  • managing emotional reactions and expression of personality 
  • focusing your attention and decision making 
  • planning for your future and
  • predicting the consequences of your actions

So with less sleep, the emotional centres of your brain go haywire. Research shows that relative to a person with a full night’s sleep, your emotional part of the brain is 60% more reactive when there is a lack of sleep. 

Here are a few things that happen to your mental state when you have a poor night of sleep;

  • Your decisions are riskier and can tend to be rash 
  • You find it difficult to focus 
  • Your capacity for empathy goes down
  • You lose your ability to understand the intentions of other people 
  • Increased anxiety – past 16 hours of wakefulness, your anxiety increases and the further you deprive yourself of sleep, the more anxious you become
  • Your sensitivity to pain increases

In short, you aren’t a pleasant person to be around when you are sleep deprived. And that can have consequences on your marriage, parenting and various other aspects of your day to day life.

Dr Matthew Walker also says, “In my lab, the most reliable thing we see when we deprive people of sleep of any dose – anxiety goes up”. 

According to him, just one night of sleep deprivation can instigate a level of anxiety which would fall under the umbrella of a clinical anxiety order diagnosis. 

Allah subuhanawuta’la has created sleep as an emotional first aid for us. Regardless of the heaviness of the problem you face, you feel much better after getting a full night of sleep. Scientists can now confirm that one of the most significant roles of our dream sleep (REM sleep) is to reset the emotional networks in our brain. 

Less Sleep Makes You Less Attractive

In a fascinating study, researchers found that poor sleep from just one night to the next makes you less charismatic. And that makes you less likely to inspire anyone too. 

So today’s take away lesson is this: Go and get your 8 hours of beauty sleep. It doesn’t just make you a pleasant person, but also more appealing!