Sleep Anxiety

anxiously lying awake

The average person feels a little jagged around the edges as a result of a sleepless night or even a night when the quality of sleep was less than optimal. However, a recent study conducted by the Neuroimaging Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley has revealed that “people who are highly anxious may actually be more vulnerable” to serious anxiety issues in the aftermath of a sleepless night.

The University of California, Berkeley study scanned the brains of 18 adults (who were all in good health) on two different occasions. One was after an ordinary night’s worth of sleep and the other after a night where they were deprived of sleep. During each session, subjects were exposed to a period of prolonged anticipation of a potentially negative experience. Those who experienced sleep deprivation the night before had reactions that were significantly stronger than those who had enjoyed a more restful sleep on the previous evening. In some cases, primarily for those predisposed to anxiety, the reaction was amplified by as much as 60 percent.

Which Comes First, Anxiety or Sleep Issues?

Once upon a time it was well understood that chronic anxiety can do a real number on your ability to sleep. For a long time, it was believed that sleep problems were simply side effects of anxiety disorder. However, new research indicates that sleep deprivation can actually be the cause of an anxiety disorder. Research also indicates that patients suffering from almost any psychiatric disorder also suffer from some form of sleep disorder. People who suffer from chronic insomnia are at a much greater risk of developing some type of anxiety disorder.

confused thinking

Causes of Sleep Anxiety

Anxiety-related sleep problems are not at all uncommon. In many cases, anxiety and/or depression are at the root of the sleep anxiety. Other psychological causes of sleep anxiety include:

However, there are some medical causes as well. Some of the potential causes of sleep anxiety include:

Treatment of Sleep Anxiety Disorders

Medical and/or herbal remedies are often used to treat sleep anxiety disorders. Medical treatments may include beta-blockers, antidepressants, and anti-anxiety medications. It’s important, if you’re suffering from a combination of sleeplessness and extreme anxiety that you seek help for your condition as soon as possible. You want to get relief for this condition as quickly as possible.

Preventing Sleep-Related Anxiety

There are many different preventative treatments that are commonly used to reduce anxiety and improve quality and quantity of sleep. They include lifestyle changes, dietary changes, yoga, stress reduction techniques, using a sleep calculator, redesigning and painting bedrooms, a comfortable mattress, aromatherapy, and other changes.  Many of these simple changes have experienced moderate success and effectiveness.

Anxiety and sleepless nights are not a good mix by any standards. If left unchecked, a couple of bad days can pile on top of one another creating a vicious cycle of anxiety and depression. Small changes to improve your ability to sleep can help you take back control of your sleep, your anxiety, and your life.

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