Seek Treatment For Anxiety
If you often feel anxious before bed or during the daytime, its important to seek treatment from a qualified mental health provider.
Almost all anxiety disorders can be treated successfully with the following either alone or in combination: medication, psychotherapy, addressing habits and making lifestyle changes.
If you think you may have an anxiety disorder, you can receive help by talking to your primary care provider about your symptoms. They may refer you to a specialized mental health provider for further treatment.
Alternatively, you can consult a licensed psychiatry provider from home using an online psychiatry service. With online treatment, youll receive a personalized plan, ongoing follow-up care and, if necessary, medication to help control your anxiety symptoms.
With treatment, its possible to gain control over your anxiety and your sleep habits to improve your wellbeing and quality of life.
Get Up At The Same Time Daily
Creating a routine can be an effective way to combat sleep anxiety and insomnia. By getting up at the same time every day, your body will naturally start to adjust your internal clock or circadian rhythm.
One sleep study, highlighted in the Guardian as A Cure for Insomnia, found that getting up at the same time every day helped the participants body feel sleepy around the same time every night. Over time, this helped the participants bedtimes become consistent.
However, creating a nighttime routine can also have similar effects. Winnie Yu for WebMD suggests creating a nightly routine can help relax your body as it starts to anticipate and expect sleep as you follow through each step. It can also help relieve anxiety, as you know what to expect each night and each morning.
Does Lack Of Sleep Cause Anxiety
Just about everyone has felt a little high-strung after a bad nights sleep, and more and more, researchers are finding that a lack of sleep can contribute both to short-term irritability and to a higher risk of developing anxiety disorders over the long term.
In a 2013 study published in the Journal of Neuroscience, researchers found that poor quality sleep amplifies reactions in parts of the brain associated with anxiety, such as the amygdala and anterior insula.
Interestingly, these reactions were strongest in people who displayed high levels of trait anxiety, suggesting that those who are already prone to anxiety may experience the largest increase in anxiety if their sleep is affected.
Other research has found that people who are affected by sleep issues such as insomnia may have an elevated risk of developing anxiety.
Put simply, sleep deprivation doesnt just affect your mood it appears to cause physical brain reactions that can trigger anxiety.
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How Are Sleep And Anxiety Connected
According to the National Institute of Health, over 40 million Americans suffer from chronic, long-term sleep disorders, and an additional 20 million report sleeping problems occasionally. One of the triggering causes of a lack of sleep could be anxiety, a mental health condition that 19.1% of the adult US population suffers from.
Sleep and anxiety are intrinsically linked: while sleep can cause anxiety symptoms, anxiety sufferers may also have difficulty falling asleep. However, its important to note that just because you have anxiety, it will lead to a lack of sleep, and just because you have a lack of sleep, it will lead to anxiety.
How To Manage Anxiety And Get A Good Nights Sleep
Stress and anxiety are some of the most common reasons people toss and turn at night. Surveys estimate that about 24% to 36%of people with insomnia have an anxiety disorder, and these 2 problems can feed off each other.
If your anxiety is interfering with your sleep, it can seem like a waking nightmare. But there are a number of treatments to help you get some shuteye again.
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What Is The Relationship Between Anxiety And Sleep
Serious sleep disturbances, including insomnia, have long been recognized as a common symptom of anxiety disorders. People who are plagued with worry often ruminate about their concerns in bed, and this anxiety at night can keep them from falling asleep.
In fact, a state of mental hyperarousal, frequently marked by worry, has been identified as a key factor behind insomnia. People with anxiety disorders are inclined to have higher sleep reactivity, which means they are much more likely to have sleeping problems when facing stress.
Sleeping difficulties have been found for people with various types of anxiety including generalized anxiety disorder, OCD, and PTSD. In several studies, over 90% of people with PTSD associated with military combat have reported symptoms of insomnia.
Distress about falling asleep can itself complicate matters, creating a sleep anxiety that reinforces a persons sense of dread and preoccupation. These negative thoughts about going to bed, a type of anticipatory anxiety, can create challenges to healthy sleep schedules and routines.
At the same time, strong evidence indicates that sleeping problems are not only a symptom of anxiety. Instead, sleep deprivation can instigate or worsen anxiety disorders. Researchers have found that people who are prone to anxiety are especially sensitive to the effects of insufficient sleep, which can provoke symptoms of anxiety.
How Can Anxiety Affect Your Health
Persisting anxiety and chronic stress can have a variety of effects on the rest of your health, mental and physical. Heightened, enduring anxiety can lead to depression and even suicidal ideation, which can sometimes cause people to turn to negative coping behaviors such as drinking, misuse of drugs, unhealthy eating habits, and inactivity, all of which can undermine your physical health. Hilbert adds that anxiety can also more directly affect your body, saying, Some people who struggle with anxiety can experience panic attacks, which are intense, somatic experiences brought on by our brains hyper-response to a perceived threat. Lasting anxiety can also lead to tension headaches and other illnesses.
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Can Lack Of Sleep Cause Anxiety
The average adult needs about seven hours of sleep a night to feel fully rested and functional. Teenagers need to get an additional two hours of sleep to maintain their normal function during the day. Unfortunately, if you fail to get enough sleep, you may experience significant feelings of anxiety. At the same time, people with anxiety-related problems may find themselves having difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep.
What Are Some Ways To Reduce Or Combat Anxiety
One of the first steps toward managing your anxiety is recognizing that it is in fact a condition thats affecting you, whether that be through loss of sleep, trouble focusing at work, racing thoughts, or other symptoms. Thankfully, there are many techniques that you can try to reduce your overall anxiety levels. Some of these might include activities such as meditation, visualization, exercise, or working to control your breathing. Another common technique involves distraction and re-centering your focus on things that you can control. Stein explains, Relaxation breathing techniques distract a person from the stimuli that may be causing the anxiety. This refocusing provides a sense of control over a situation that may seem out of control. According to Stein, the goal of these techniques is for the person to manage their anxiety, rather than their anxiety controlling them.
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Chronic Elevated Levels Of Adrenaline
Finally, one of the things that we know about anxiety is that the physical symptoms can be increased when levels of adrenaline in the body are high. These physical symptoms, such as racing heart and hyperventilation, can actually lead to greater feelings of anxiety themselves. Anxiety has been associated with chronic adrenaline release. The body, for whatever reason, seems to release adrenaline too quickly and too easily even when there is no stress present, and this rush of adrenaline causes the entire body to feel on edge.
So what’s interesting is that scientists have shown that those with sleep debt often have chronically elevated levels of adrenaline. One interpretation of these findings is that when you don’t get enough sleep, adrenaline may start to course through your veins more often. For those without anxiety this may not be too big a problem. However, those with anxiety are likely to respond to the the adrenaline increase and thus experience an increase in overall anxiety levels.
Effect Of Sleep Deprivation Vs Sleep Restriction On Anxiety
Id like to clarify what was defined as deprivation and restriction in the meta-study mentioned above:
- Sleep deprivation – Complete absence of sleep or deprivation of a particular sleep stage.
- Sleep restriction – Reduction in total sleep time
If you sleep for 6 hours for one night instead of your usual 8 hours, that would be considered sleep restriction.
However, if that happened on a regular basis, you would start to spend less time in certain sleep stages, and it would develop into deprivation.
SummaryResearch is fairly clear that sleep deprivation can cause anxiety. This can occur in as little as one day if someone gets no sleep at all.
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How Much Sleep Is Enough
While sleep needs can vary from one person to another, most of us as adults need seven to nine hours of sleep each night . If youre not regularly getting that many, you could well be sleep deprivedeven if youre not aware of the subtle effects its having on your mood, personality, and performance, or the long-term toll it could be taking on your overall health.
When it comes to sleep, its not just the number of hours thats importantits also the quality of those hours as well. Even if you spend enough time in bed, if you struggle to wake up in the morning or feel drowsy during the day, that could be a sign that youre not getting the quality of sleep you need.
Disruptions from noise, light, or physical pain, for example, can prevent you from spending enough time in the different stages of sleepparticularly the rejuvenating deep sleep and REM sleep stagesdiminishing the quality of your rest and contributing to the symptoms of sleep deprivation.
Can Sleep Deprivation Cause Anxiety
One of the most significant consequences of sleep deprivation is that it can cause anxiety.
That anxiety can go on to cause more health issues, and even lead to long-term sleep problems.
This short post summarizes current research that shows the link between sleep deprivation and anxiety, and how serious of a risk it is.
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How Can Medication Treat Sleep Anxiety
Your healthcare provider may recommend medication to treat anxiety or other mental health disorders. Medication can also help improve the symptoms of sleep-related disorders such as restless legs syndrome or insomnia.
But some medications might actually increase your anxiety or make sleeping harder when you first start taking them. If you experience these side effects, talk to your healthcare provider. Many over-the-counter sleep aids can also be habit-forming. Dont start any medication for anxiety or sleep without your healthcare providers supervision.
What Is Anxiety Exactly
We often say things like “I’m worried” and “I feel stressed out” when describing anxiety. But, here’s the thing: Anxiety is distinct from worry, fear, and stress.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders defines anxiety, fear, and worry in the following ways:
- Anxiety is âthe anticipation of future threat.â The American Psychological Association further spells it out as âan emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure.â
- Fear is âthe emotional response to real or perceived imminent threat.â
- Worry is âthe cognitive aspects of apprehensive expectation.â
Anxiety is also closely linked to stress, as both emotions often elicit similar responses. In the next section, we delineate the differences between anxiety and stress.
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Why Sleep Deprivation Can Cause Anxiety And Depression
Sleeping patterns and mental health are two closely-related concepts. During sleep, your body and mind repair themselves and become stronger. Because of this, sleep deprivation can worsen or even increase your chances of anxiety and depression.
Around 70 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders, and the problem is also significant in other locations around the world. Not only does poor sleep potentially increase your risk of suffering from anxiety, depression, and elevated stress, but those mental conditions can worsen your sleep patterns too. Sleep and mental health problems are part of a vicious cycle.
Addressing Or Preventing Sleep Deprivation
If you regularly wake up unrefreshed and are tired during the day, its time to take action to get the sleep you need. It can be tempting to simply pop a pill when youre desperate to get some rest. But theres much you can do to improve the quantity and quality of your sleep, without having to rely on medication.
While sleeping pills or sleep aids can be useful for short-term use, theyre not a cure and dont address the underlying causes of your sleep problemand over time may even make your symptoms worse. Instead, there are a number of lifestyle and behavioral changes you can make to address sleep deprivation and get your sleep schedule back on track.
Calm your anxious mind at night. Avoid screens, work, and stressful conversations in the hour before bed. Instead, develop a relaxing bedtime routine that enables you to wind down and calm your mind. Try taking a warm bath, listening to soft music or an audiobook, reading by a dim light, or practicing a relaxation technique such as deep breathing, meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation.
Postpone worrying. If you lie awake at night anxiously fretting, make a brief note of your worries on paper and allow yourself to postpone worrying until the following day. When youre refreshed after a good nights sleep, youll be in a much better place to deal with the problem.
Maintain a regular sleep schedule. By going to bed and getting up at the same time every day, including weekends, youll support your biological clock.
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How Do You Know If You Are Sleep Deprived
Ive previously written a full guide to how to know if youre sleep deprived, but Ill give you the highlights here for convenience:
- Even losing just a few hours of sleep can start to cause sleep deprivation symptoms .
- Regular interruptions during sleep can lead to sleep deprivation, as your brain is not able to spend adequate amounts of time in each sleep stage.
- You can use an online sleep deprivation test to get an idea if you might be sleep deprived or not. Note that this is only a guide, and an assessment from a doctor is needed for confirmation.
Sleep Apnea And Anxiety: Whats The Link
Anxiety by itself is a natural way your body deals with stress and alerts you of potential danger. However, problems arise when anxiety becomes overwhelming and prevents you from living a normal life. Uncontrolled feelings of stress and worry can sometimes result from an inadequate amount of sleep.
âSleep apnea can cause anxiety and make it worse,â Aniko Dunn, Psy.D and psychologist at EZ Care Clinic, tells WebMD Connect to Care.
One reason for this is that âthe chemical reactions that come with a lack of sleep can make you feel depressed and nervous,â Dunn explains.
Another reason is tied to sleep stages. An important stage of sleep is the âdeep sleepâ stage, where your brain waves slow down. This stage is also when your body starts repairing tissues, boosting your immune system, and storing up energy for the next day. Not reaching this âdeep sleepâ stage, or being interrupted during it, as occurs with sleep apnea, prevents your body and mind from operating normally.
A 2016 systematic review and meta-analysis published by Sleep Medicine found that sleep deprivation can create significant spikes in state anxiety levels. The American Psychological Association defines state anxiety as anxiety that arises in response to a specific threat or danger. And the research shows that these spikes occur in response to both total and partial loss of sleep.
Whether your anxiety was caused or made worse by sleep apnea, the two can be dangerous if not treated.
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Do A Bedroom Makeover
Another helpful trick is to make your bedroom a place for nothing but sleep. For some people living in small loft apartments, this might be tricky, but by putting up a divider or curtain, you may be able to simulate a similar separate room effect.
Regardless, redecorating your bedroom for a more comfortable and quiet environment can do wonders for your sleep health. Consider decluttering the room and regularly changing the bedding or adding a rug to make the space more appealing and comfortable.
If you come into your bedroom and still cant sleep, dont just lay there and wait for slumber to hit. Instead, get up after 15 minutes and work on some small projects until your body naturally feels sleepy.
What To Do When You Cant Sleep: 9 Tips
Prioritizing a good nights sleep isnt just important for your general health, it can also help with feelings of anxiety, as your body is less likely to feel overwhelmed or on edge when youve slept well.
However, falling asleep can be difficult, so its important to build a strategy for a better nights sleep. Below are some tips to try in order to improve your chances of falling asleep naturally.
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