Several months ago, I had a depression that I thought I couldn't overcome. I always felt terrible and hated to talk to people.
At that time, I'd asked myself a thousand times "What happened to me? Why I'm so depressed". And I couldn't answer.
However, I also saw a serious problem in the way I treated myself. I had 2 jobs, which supposed to end at 9 pm. But to finish my task, I had to work until early morning. That leads to sleep deprivation. Realizing my wrong lifestyle is the first hint for me to heal my mental illness.
In this post, I will talk about the first and foremost thing that affects your mental health: sleep.

How sleep deprivation affects your mental health

Due to the lack of sleep, I suffered from symptoms like slow reaction, the inability to concentrate, dizziness, anxiety.
I did some research about sleep deprivation and it turned out there is a strong connection between sleep and mental health.

1. It impairs the process of waste disposal

For your information, your brain has its own waste which is build up throughout the day in the form of protein. The 2 proteins are amyloid-beta, which aggregates to form plaques around brain cells, and tau, which forms tangles inside them. 
To function properly, it has to do waste disposal at nights. When you're lack of sleep, as a result, the efficiency of the waste disposal process is reduced.
The excess of those 2 proteins is associated with neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer.

2. It leads to the inability to control emotion

In another study, scientists found a connection between sleep deprivation and the function of amygdala, a brain area which controls emotions.
The experience in the study showed that people who didn't have enough sleep will have more emotional responses. Because the amygdala was 60% more active than normal.
Also, sleep deprivation disrupted the connections between amygdala the prefrontal cortex, which regulates amygdala function. 
After all, our emotional responses are heightened, and we start acting irrationally.

Why we never sleep enough and how to fix it

The biggest reason we never have enough of sleep is we are busy.
We are busy entertaining, getting addicted to social media and keeping staring on our phone, or working.
For me, back in the time when I had 2 jobs, I prioritize everything over my sleep. Cutting off sleeping time is the first thing I do to have more time for other works.
We underestimate the importance of sleep and are confident that there won't be any problem.
Here are some of my tips to change this bad habit:
- Create a reminder at 11:30 every day to remind me to go to sleep
- Turn off my phone and stay away from social media notifications
- Do exercises. When you get tired, you will desire to sleep more than anything else
- Stop killing myself for work
Although I'm actually inconsistent in doing everything in this check-list (I'm writing this at 1:12 am :((( ), I still make progress in improving my sleep quality and my mental health.
Just try one day going to sleep early, you will definitely see the difference.
The next part will be about how exercises can help to improve your mental health.