Life, Death, Mental Health & Sleep

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, A.C.T, MCC, SCAC
Another Article in the Sleep Series – Video below


I’ll Sleep when I’m Dead . . .

That’s how I began Sleep and Cognition,
an earlier article in the Sleep Series.

I went on to say:

In my hurry-up-there’s-so-much-more-to-DO experience of living, almost everything auxiliary to my current attempt to focus frequently seems like a necessary but unwelcomed interruption to what I liked to think of as “life” — as annoying as ants at a picnic.

But I know better now where SLEEP is concerned!

WHY we need sleep

Yes, sleep deprivation makes us drowsy and unable to concentrate.  It feels lousy when we struggle to keep our eyes open. But that’s not the half of it!

A LOT happens during that prone period where it seems to us that nothing at all is going on. We need adequate, high-quality sleep for our nervous systems to work properly.

As science conducts increasingly more sleep studies, it has become clear that sleep deprivation leads to impairment of our memory processes, physical performance, and intellectual prowess (leading, for example, to a proven reduction in the ability to carry out mathematical calculations).

Extreme sleep deprivation leads to hallucinations and an impaired ability to regulate mood.

But that’s not ALL

Animal studies have shown that sleep is necessary to remain physically healthy and, in some cases, to remain alive.

  • A rat’s average life span is 2 to 3 years; rats deprived of sleep live for only about 3 weeks.
  • They also develop abnormally low body temperatures, along with sores on paws and tails, most likely developed as a result of impairment of the rats’ immune systems.

In humans, it has been demonstrated that the metabolic activity of the brain decreases significantly after 24 hours without sleep. Sleep deprivation results in:

  • a decrease in body temperature and an increase in heart rate variability
  • a decrease in white blood cell count, which correlates to a decrease in immune system function
  • a decrease in the release of growth hormone which, in children and young adults, takes place during deep sleep — and, among other problems,
  • a disturbance in the production and breakdown of proteins (in most bodily cells) – normally carried out during the deep sleep phase.

Take a Quick Look

I’m repeating the graphic below for those of you who missed it in the earlier sleep article, illustrating some of the effects of sleep deprivation.  I’m hoping that ALL of you will take a closer look at some of what you’re risking when you’re under-slept — or when the quality of your sleep-time is low.

Further down, you will have a chance to listen to an entertaining TED Talk by noted circadian neuroscientist Russell G. Foster, concluding with some of the newest information from the latest studies on the connection between comorbid sleep disorders and mental health.

Main health effects of sleep deprivation (See ...

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From Sleep Scientist Russell Foster

Those of you who have been following the Sleep Series have probably noted some prior links to Foster’s resources, and they all provide great information. But the video below is a good introduction to some of the newest research on the link between sleep struggles and mental dysregulations.

I’ll be posting more on this important topic, so stay tuned.

WHY Do We Sleep?

Shared on the YouTube site from Foster’s TED Talk (with thanks to Hazel Owen for the heads up)

“Russell Foster is a circadian neuroscientist: He studies the sleep cycles of the brain. And he asks: What do we know about sleep? Not a lot, it turns out, for something we do with one-third of our lives.”

In this talk, recorded for TED Global in Edinburgh Scotland, June 2013 (in 18 minutes or less), “Foster shares three popular theories about why we sleep, busts some myths about how much sleep we need at different ages — and hints at some bold new uses of sleep as a predictor of mental health” (and mental illness – in the last minute or so).

Graphics gratitude: sleeping by moonlight:
Chart from Wikipedia

As always, if you want notification of new articles (in the Sleep Series or any new posts on this blog), give your email address to the nice form on the top of the skinny column to the right. (You only have to do this once, so if you’ve already asked for notification about a prior series, you’re covered for this one too). STRICT No Spam Policy

IN ANY CASE, stay tuned.
There’s a lot to know, a lot here already, and a lot more to come – in this Series and in others.
Get it here while it’s still free for the taking.

Want to work directly with me? If you’d like some coaching help (one-on-one,couples or group) with anything that came up while you were reading this article, click HERE for Brain-based Coaching with mgh, with a contact form at its end, or click the E-me link on the menubar at the top of every page. Fill out the form, submit, and an email SOS is on its way to me; we’ll schedule a call to talk about what you need. I’ll get back to you ASAP (accent on the “P”ossible!)

Related articles right here on
(in case you missed them above or below)

Other Comorbidities Articles

Sleep Articles ’round the ‘net

BY THE WAY: Since is an Evergreen site, I revisit all my content periodically to update links — when you link back, like, follow or comment, you STAY on the page. When you do not, you run a high risk of getting replaced by a site with a more generous come-from.



About Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC
Award-winning ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching field co-founder; [life] Coaching pioneer -- Neurodiversity Advocate, Coach, Mentor & Poster Girl -- Multi-Certified -- 25 years working with EFD [Executive Functioning disorders] and struggles in hundreds of people from all walks of life. I developed and delivered the world's first ADD-specific coach training curriculum: multi-year, brain-based, and ICF Certification tracked. In addition to my expertise in ADD/EF Systems Development Coaching, I am known for training and mentoring globally well-informed ADD Coach LEADERS with the vision to innovate, many of the most visible, knowledgeable and successful ADD Coaches in the field today (several of whom now deliver highly visible ADD coach trainings themselves). For almost a decade, I personally sponsored and facilitated seven monthly, virtual and global, no-charge support and information groups The ADD Hours™ - including The ADD Expert Speakers Series, hosting well-known ADD Professionals who were generous with their information and expertise, joining me in my belief that "It takes a village to educate a world." I am committed to being a thorn in the side of ADD-ignorance in service of changing the way neurodiversity is thought about and treated - seeing "a world that works for everyone" in my lifetime. Get in touch when you're ready to have a life that works BECAUSE of who you are, building on strengths to step off that frustrating treadmill "when 'wanting to' just doesn't get it DONE!"

8 Responses to Life, Death, Mental Health & Sleep

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  5. I am getting through them 🙂 this one was very good for getting a good overall. I knew sleep affected a lot of things but I don’t think I really calculated how much it was all edited – silly I know, it seems obvious!
    Really liked the picture diagram as well, good way to learn and understand it. Thank you 🙂 xx


    • You are SO welcome – again, I’m impressed by your follow-through skills. REALLY!

      Don’t feel bad about not having calculated all involved in sleep mechanics — according to HUGE survey untaken by Dement, “the father of sleep medicine” — very few of the docs know much about sleep EITHER (and it’s their *j-o-b* to keep up with stuff like that!)

      Glad pictures work for you — when I can find them, I add them. Me? hmmmm – d’ya think maybe I’m a WORD person?

      See comment I left for you following your comment on Ahas (etc) – no time to re-detail here – REALLY!

      I’m OFF to start packing!


  6. When I am focussed and busy taking time to sleep really does feel like an…imposition! However, when I work until the early dawn because I am ‘in the zone’, I notice that it takes a while to recover. I find myself searching for vocabulary, yelling at inanimate objects, and piling on the layers of clothing. Now I know why! 🙂

    Do you know if the effects of sleep deprivation are cumulative? And, if once in a while I pull an all day / all night work session, but then sleep sensibly for a few days, are there lasting effects?

    Thanks, as always, for a really informative post! xxx


    • YES, the effects are cumulative – check out the ==> Sleep Debt post – but probably not in the way you mean.

      Nobody REALLY knows whether there are lasting cognitive effects from chronic sleep deprivation (except it IS aging to the rest of the physical body, btw) – but sleep debt does seem to be able to resolve itself after a sleep marathon (or three!).

      I am hoping to get over to your site to do a quickie on the new ==> Sensory Defensiveness post – THAT’s info educators really need to know about.

      Thanks always for stopping by and taking the time to comment.


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