Lack of sleep causes anxiety

Lack of Sleep and Anxiety: A Link That Affects Health

Last update: July 25, 2020

According to recent studies, lack of sleep and anxiety are closely related. We are not only talking about insomnia as such, but also about the fact that we sleep too little every day, that we constantly wake up and that we get up with the feeling that we are not rested. If we experience this state permanently, it affects our health and our mood.

The neurosciences are constantly evolving and provide us with interesting and valuable information. Recently, for example, it was shown how Naps of less than half an hour help the brain improve short and long-term memory. We also know that sleep is key to eliminating toxins and other “wastes” inside and outside the nervous system.

Humans, like most animals, need to sleep. If this is not done properly, health and wellbeing are at risk. Experiments on sleep deprivation have shown the great risks associated with it. It has also been shown that sleeping less than six hours significantly increases the risk of neurodegenerative diseases.

Sophocles said that sleep was the only effective medicine for almost everything, and there is no doubt that he is not wrong with this reasoning. Sometimes we neglect its meaning and scope in our habits. Tilting our head in one direction and feet in the other for at least 7 or 8 hours every day will lead us to gain physical and, most importantly, mental health.

"Sleeping is no small feat, because you have to stay awake all day for it."

Friedrich Nietzsche

Lack of Sleep and Anxiety: An Important Relationship

The link between lack of sleep and anxiety has inspired numerous studies in recent years. So was at the annual meeting of Society for Neuroscience in San Diego (California, USA) brought this topic to the attention of experts. A recognized specialist in this field, Dr. Clifford Saper, a member of the U.S. Sleep Research Society, said:

  • We humans tend to have misconceptions about lack of sleep. Lack of sleep is not insomnia. It's also not a month without sleep.
  • In fact, sleep deprivation is so subtle and widespread that we often don't give it the importance it deserves.
  • Lack of sleep means we sleep fewer hours than we would need to recover. It's to go to bed at midnight and wake up at two in the morning. Then we fall asleep at three o'clock and wake up at five o'clock, after which we cannot go back to sleep. It also means sleeping five or six hours a day and telling yourself that it is "normal".
  • What really puts our health at risk is not achieving REM sleepwhere the body rests deeply while the brain is more active than ever to perform essential tasks.

Lack of sleep and the amygdala

Let's imagine we've been sleeping an average of five hours for two to three months. We often wake up tired, but we can still go about our duties and responsibilities. We even tell ourselves that the body changes with age and we need less sleep. We can convince ourselves of this, but our brains do not agree with these considerations at all; in truth we cannot find restful rest.

We don't complete our REM sleep cycles and that means we cannot perform the processes that are so important to our brain health.

  • Sleep deprivation and anxiety are linked because there is a structure that becomes excessively active, the amygdala.
  • The amygdala is the region of the brain that becomes active when it recognizes that there is danger. Then a number of hormones are released, which in turn activate us to evade the perceived threat.
  • Sleep deprivation is a threat to the amygdala. It is a threat that threatens cerebral homeostasis, the balance so necessary for our wellbeing.
  • The activation of the amygdala leads us irretrievably into a state of fear.

Sleep disorders affect our health

As we can see, the relationship between lack of sleep and anxiety can be a vicious circle at times. We sleep less and feel more anxious.The fear, in turn, increases our sleep disorders.Studies like the one carried out at the University of Adelaide in Australia point us to further aspects: Sleep disorders not only increase the risk of anxiety. You are also a risk factor for depression.

But there are very effective sleep therapies. As a matter of fact, As soon as a patient's nighttime sleep improves, their psychological well-being improves too - in just a few weeks. Improvements in cognitive processes can be seen and the patient's mood improves significantly.

Strategies for Treating Lack of Sleep and Anxiety

Sleep hygiene specialists recommend two strategies. On the one hand, we need to improve our sleeping habits. On the other hand, it is important that we acquire sufficient skills to manage stress and anxiety.

  • We start with a medical examination. It is advisable to exclude organic ailments that can cause these nocturnal ailments.
  • Second, it is highly recommended Visit a sleep therapy specialist. There are currently very effective programs in which the patient is offered an individual program to improve the quality of sleep.
  • Wealso take care of our sleep hygiene by always going to bed at the same timeand follow the same rituals.
  • Other suitable strategies are e.g. B. the training with a paradoxical intention and biofeedback. These tools help us learn what to do in the face of waking up at night.

In conclusion, there is a clear connection between lack of sleep and anxiety and it is therefore interesting to take care of our living and sleeping habits a little more. In the end, even if nobody dies overnight because they haven't slept,The lack of sleep gradually takes away our quality of life and affects our health without our even realizing it.

"Those who do not notice how badly they sleep have a heavy sleep."

Seneca

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