The Link Between Stress And Sleep
Stress has many negative connotations, but it is a response that has evolved in humans and animals to allow them to deal with important or dangerous situations.
In humans, stress can cause the autonomic nervous system to release hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones raise the heart rate to circulate blood to vital organs and muscles more efficiently, preparing the body to take immediate action if necessary.
This reaction is known as the fight-or-flight response, and it was vital for human survival during the earlier stages of evolution.
Nowadays, issues that are not a threat to survival can trigger the fight-or-flight response. For example, problems at work or relationship difficulties.
Other Stress Management Tips
Some people find stress relief through cognitive behavioral stress management . This form of short-term therapy pinpoints the way your thoughts and beliefs affect how you behave and interact with the world around you. By identifying irrational or inaccurate thoughts and replacing them with more positive ones, you may be able to change your behaviors and your general outlook.
Studies have shown CBSM can be an effective measure for various groups that tend to experience undue stress, such as professional nurses, people with substance abuse disorders, and individuals living with HIV.
Incidentally, cognitive behavioral therapy has also proven effective for alleviating insomnia symptoms. Known as CBT-i for short, this type of therapy helps people overcome misconceptions or negative beliefs about sleep in order to get more rest and overcome their insomnia. CBT-i emphasizes sleep restriction and the importance of getting out of bed on sleepless nights, as well as proper sleep hygiene and relaxation techniques.
In addition to following sleep hygiene guidelines and pursuing CBSM therapy, many people effectively manage their stress by taking the following measures:
- Was this article helpful?
Why Do Many People With Anxiety Have Sleep Apnea
You should first find out if you even have sleep apnea. Make sure youre not self-diagnosing. People wake up in the middle of the night for a variety of reasons. Sleep apnea is a very specific condition, and not something that you can easily diagnose on your own.
Sleep apnea can actually cause significant anxiety and panic attacks. It interrupts sleep and leads to sleep debt, which makes it harder for the brain to cope with stress. It also causes stress on the mind and body because apnea prevents you from recovering after sleep. Your heart and blood pressure may also be affected, leading to additional physical symptoms. Apnea can cause anxiety, and increase anxiety in those that already have it.
Some research has theorized that anxiety may cause sleep apnea to be worse as well, although its not entirely clear why and few studies have actually provided such a link.
Some people may develop nighttime panic attacks as a result of their sleep apnea as well. These panic attacks are often triggered by the way the heart reacts to the breathing problems sleep apnea causes. Its not uncommon to feel like your panic attacks are causing that apnea, when in fact its the other way around.
Also Check: What Is The Best Anti Anxiety Medication
Sleep And Its Impact On Anxiety And Depression
Usually, sleep is a restorative state, it helps us to handle the cleatiousemanyallenges of life. However, inadequate or disrupted sleep leads to increased tension and irritability. Sleep problems and insomnia can potentially increase the risk of developing depression in the first place. For instance, a study into 1,000 adults found that people who reported insomnia were four times more likely to experience issues of major depression by the time they had a second interview 3 years later.
Insomnia and sleep deprivation also affects the outcomes of clients with depression. Studies show that people who have issues with insomnia are less likely to respond to treatment for depression. Whats more, depressed clients who also cant sleep are more likely to think about suicide than people who sleep normally.
Sleep deprivation also has a significant impact on people with anxiety. Currently, sleeping problems affect a huge number of adults with generalized anxiety disorder and PTSD. While insomnia might not cause you to develop an anxiety disorder, it can make your issue a lot worse. Some people develop issues with anxiety that are linked to the process of going to sleep. A disorder called sleep anxiety refers to feelings of panic that people get whenever they go to bed and attempt to fall asleep.
Can Sleep Apnea Cause Anxiety
Sleep apnea is a condition in which your sleep is interrupted and you do not get the rest you should. In general, a lack of sleep can lead to decreased alertness and increased drowsiness, according to Cleveland Clinic. In addition to physical symptoms, sleep apnea can lead to psychological problems as well. Hereâs what you need to know about sleep apnea and anxiety.
Recommended Reading: Is Magnesium Good For Anxiety
Does Sleep Help Stress
Getting enough sleep on a nightly basis can alleviate stress quite effectively. Unfortunately, a good nights rest can be elusive if youre stressed out especially if sleep problems are a major source of your day-to-day anxieties.
There are other measures you can take to relieve stress. These include regularly exercising and maintaining a healthy support network of friends and family. However, keeping stress at bay often demands adequate sleep. National Sleep Foundation guidelines advise that healthy adults should sleep between seven and nine hours each night.
Anxiety Severity And Neurological Symptoms
The severity of ones anxiety plays a key role in the development of symptoms that can sometimes look nearly identical to neurological problems. Millions of people with anxiety have physical symptoms that resemble neurological diseases such as:
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Brain Tumors
- Lyme Disease
The symptoms of these neurological diseases can be so similar to those of anxiety that doctors sometimes need to run various tests to rule out the presence of a serious illness. Because anxiety truly does cause physical symptoms, medical advice is often needed to discern whether a persons brain and nerves are healthy.
Also Check: How To Control Anxiety Naturally
Identify And Avoid Your Stress Triggers
An examination into what triggers your high-stress levels can help you identify these factors, and allow you to mitigate their impact on your physical and mental well-being.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a form of therapy that helps you uncover the source of your negative thinking as well as the triggers that cause your stress levels to elevate. CBT has been shown to reduce stress in individuals with IBS. Consequently, these individuals suffered fewer IBS symptoms. This demonstrates the effectiveness of therapy in minimizing stress, which then directly boosts the digestive health of the individual.
Meditation and mindfulness are also powerful techniques that can help you ease your stress levels. Studies have also shown that these practices can also help ease inflammation across the body, including along your gastrointestinal tract. Meditating as well as doing some breathing exercises before eating can help relax you, which in turn allows your digestive system to function optimally.
Suggestions For Improving Sleep
There are several strategies for helping you avoid behaviors that get in the way of good sleep. You can develop good sleep habits by practicing some of the below:
- Relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises and progressive muscle relaxation can help reduce anxiety at bedtime. Other relaxation techniques include taking a warm bath or meditating prior to going to bed.
- Controlling stimuli such as using the bedroom for sleep only and not allowing other stimuli such as electronics in. This will help you dissociate your bed as a place of busy activity.
- Setting a consistent bedtime and wake-up time can help you train yourself for consistent sleep.
- Avoiding naps and similar sleep restrictions can make you feel more tired at bedtime which can help improve insomnia for some people.
- Avoiding stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine close to bedtime can help you be physically ready for sleep. Your doctor might also recommend avoiding alcohol close to bedtime.
Your doctor may suggest other strategies tailored to your sleep environment and lifestyle that will help you learn and develop habits that will promote healthy sleep.
You May Like: How To Explain Anxiety To A Child
Sleeping Less Than Normal Impacts How We Feel The Next Morning
Not in the sense that we have more negative feelings, like being down or depressed. But participants in our study experienced a flattening of emotions when they slept less than normal. They felt less joy, enthusiasm, attention and fulfilment, says Associate Professor Ingvild Saksvik-Lehouillier at the Norwegian University of Science and Technologys Department of Psychology.
Most sleep research is done in laboratories, but Saksvik-Lehouillier and the NTNU research team studied participants who slept at home.
The participants first spent seven nights in their own bed, and slept as long as they usually do.
Three of the mornings they conducted a set of tests. Next, the participants slept two hours less than normal for three nights. On two of the mornings they went through the same tests.
We all have different sleep patterns. The point of having the participants sleep at home was to keep everything as similar to daily life as possible. In the imposed sleep deprivation phase, participants crawled under their covers two hours later than they normally did, and had to get up at their usual time, says Saksvik-Lehouillier.
The practical testing took place about an hour and a half after the participants got up and without having had any coffee.
Previous studies have shown that sleep deprivation may have about the same effect on driving as alcohol does.
We know that sleep is important for learning. Maybe thats what were seeing here, says Saksvik-Lehouillier.
Anxiety Causes Neurological Symptoms
For many with anxiety, there is sometimes a fear that their anxiety isn’t anxiety. They fear that the doctors are missing something and that they are actually suffering from a dangerous and possibly even fatal position that is affecting their heart or brain.
There are two reasons fear persists for those with anxiety. First, anxiety causes fear-based thoughts, which inherently cause fear itself. Second, anxiety, in some cases, can lead to heart and brain symptoms that can mimic actual physical conditions, diseases, and illnesses. In this article, we’ll explore some of the many neurological symptoms of anxiety.
Also Check: What Can I Do To Help With Anxiety
How Does Stress Affect Sleep
Insomnia is a common sleep disorder derived from stress. Insomnia is defined as persistent difficulty with sleep onset, maintenance, consolidation, or overall quality. It occurs despite adequate time allotted for sleep on a given night and a comfortable place to sleep, and people with insomnia experience excessive daytime sleepiness, fatigue, irritability and other impairments when they are awake. Current estimates suggest 10-30% of adults live with insomnia.
- Problems or dissatisfaction at work
- Divorce and other marital or family difficulties
- The death of a loved one
- Major illness or injury
- Crucial life changes
Not everyone develops chronic insomnia due to constant stress, but those with anxiety disorder are at higher risk of experiencing insomnia symptoms. Additionally, changes to ones sleep schedule that occur due to life events or changes can also lead to insomnia. Once chronic insomnia takes hold, people often feel anxious about sleeping and other aspects of their lives. This increases day-to-day stress, which in turn exacerbates insomnia symptoms.
Other daytime impairments related to insomnia that can bring about or contribute to stress include:
If someone experiences insomnia symptoms for fewer than three months, then this condition is referred to as short-term insomnia. Just as chronic stress can precipitate chronic insomnia, acute stressors can bring about short-term insomnia symptoms. These stressors may include:
Avoid Lying In Bed Awake
If youre lying in bed for more than 20 minutes and still cant fall asleep, it might be time to give yourself a do-over. While it may feel counterintuitive, Lawson suggests leaving your bedroom to do a sleep-inducing activity, like having a cup of tea or reading a book. This conditioning, known as stimulus control, can reduce the time it takes to fall asleep.
If youre going to try stimulus control, its important to remove yourself from your bedroom environment. This helps give you a mental reset when you try to fall asleep again.
Don’t Miss: When To See A Doctor For Anxiety
What Happens When Anxiety Interrupts Sleep
When anxiety causes inadequate sleep, it can go beyond the tiredness of a regular all-nighter. Poinsett says that anxiety can be a trigger for sleep deprivation, creating a vicious cycle that can further affect your sleep pattern.
While the impact of sleep anxiety is largely individual, some common effects of sleep anxiety include:
- Negatively impacts your mood
- Increases chance of depression
- Reduces cognitive reaction times
A small study even found that those who have insomnia are four times more likely to develop depression.
In addition to mental health issues, those with sleep disorders can be at risk for other health problems, including heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, and obesity.
Sleep Apnea Stress Monitoring
With the help of the stress log, you will be able to see how stress has affected your life over a specific period of time. The CareClinic app can also be used to set goals, such as those for stress relief, allowing you to concentrate on the specific measures that can be taken to reduce your stress.
You should not put too much pressure on yourself and start small. Add a goal for each day and reward yourself for succeeding. The end goal should not be exclusively about stress relief. You should strive to become happier and fulfilled from an emotional point of view.
Many people are stressed because of their jobs, either because they have an increased workload or tight deadlines, or as a result of poor time management, inadequate work conditions or being discriminated. Failed personal relationships, chronic conditions and the lack of satisfaction can also lead to stress .
With the help of CareClinic, you will see which major life events have affected you the most. For instance, there are a lot of people who developed a stress disorder after having lost their partner, experienced financial difficulties or had to take care of a sick family member. Fear and uncertainty often make stress worse, as well as a negative attitude on life .
Read Also: Zoloft Cause Insomnia
Also Check: How To Get A Job With Social Anxiety
So What Does Sleep Or The Lack Of It Have To Do With It
Just like many of the reasons listed above, losing sleep or having a sleep disorder can either cause or make the condition worse. In fact, nearly all psychiatric disorders are linked to some sort of sleep issue.
The Harvard Health Newsletter points out that sleep disorders were traditionally considered symptoms of a condition. However, recent studies have concluded that these sleep issues may raise the risk for, and even directly contribute to, the development of some psychiatric disorders. This is evident across both sleep health and mental health studies.
Sleep disturbances-(particularly insomnia are highly prevalent in anxiety disorders and complaints such as insomnia or nightmares have even been incorporated in some anxiety disorder definitions, such as generalized anxiety disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder, Staner said.
Harvard Health agrees with this describes but they go further by describing the neurological connection between the two:
Sleep disruption which affects levels of neurotransmitters and stress hormones, among other things wreaks havoc in the brain, impairing thinking and emotional regulation. In this way, insomnia may amplify the effects of psychiatric disorders and vice versa.