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Can Sleep Apnea Cause Anxiety

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Health Consequences Of Sleep Apnea

Can stress or anxiety cause sleep apnea?

The chronic sleep deprivation caused by sleep apnea can result in daytime sleepiness, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness, and an increased risk of accidents and errors in your daily activities.

Sleep apnea also has a mental impact. It can trigger moodiness and irritability and cause anxiety and depression. It also increases your risk of other serious health problems like high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, atrial fibrillation, and stroke.

How Can I Make Living With Sleep Anxiety Easier

Anxiety or sleep problems can affect every aspect of your life, from your performance at work to your interactions with others. It may help to talk about your sleep anxiety with a therapist, co-workers, friends or loved ones. Support groups can also connect you to a community of people dealing with similar experiences.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Sleep anxiety is a feeling of fear or stress about falling asleep or staying asleep. Sleep problems and mental health disorders such as anxiety are closely intertwined. One can often make the other worse, so it can feel like a never-ending cycle. But anxiety and sleep problems are both treatable. Talk to your healthcare provider about your symptoms and work together to build the right treatment plan. Common treatments include cognitive behavioral therapy , good sleep hygiene and medication.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 06/13/2021.


Sleep Apnea Stress Management

If your sleep problems are being compounded by stress, stress management techniques before bed can be helpful in reducing stress and improving sleep. Coping with stress can take many forms, and can involve emotional engagement or emotional disengagement. Different management methods may work best for different people you can find what works best for you!

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Relaxation Music For Sleep Stress And Anxiety Relief

Music therapy uses sound and rhythm to reduce stress and increase anxiety relief. For people who have problems with sleeping and sleep apnea stress, listening to relaxation music for sleep stress and anxiety relief is helpful.

Relaxation music for sleep stress and anxiety relief stimulates the limbic system. This is the central station in the brain for our feelings. People listening to classical music;did recreate the;structure and meaning of the music in their limbic systems. At the same time, the limbic regions release dopamine when listening to music, which is known as the happiness hormone.

Relaxing music is;what makes us feel at home before sleeping. We can also affect our well being with the help of the right environment. We have a way to create the perfect home environment for sleep through music.

Mediation music for meditation practice may also help you reduce stress and fall asleep. It can serve to neutralize external disturbing sound sources. It can also help to let go of thoughts and worries while concentrating on the sounds during your meditation sessions before bedtime.

What Causes Anxiety Disorders

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The exact cause of anxiety is unknown. In fact, researchers believe that there is not one single cause but rather an interplay of factors that include a persons genetics, family history, and exposure to negative life events. Some health problems and drugs can also contribute to symptoms of anxiety.

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Sleep And Mental Health

Mental health clinicians traditionally viewed sleep disorders as a symptom of a psychiatric disorder, but research suggests that in some patients sleep issues may be a cause of the disorder.

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How Is Depression Treated

While depression can have dramatic effects on a persons sleep and overall quality of life, it can be treated. After working with a doctor or mental health provider to understand the type and severity of depression, treatment may include:

  • Counseling: Depression can be treated effectively with several types of counseling, including cognitive-behavioral therapy and interpersonal therapy . CBT for insomnia is a type of CBT that focuses on managing chronic insomnia.
  • Medications: Antidepressants are an effective treatment for depression. These prescription medications usually take time before they begin to improve symptoms and patients may need to try several antidepressants before finding the right fit. A doctor or psychiatrist can discuss the appropriateness of these medications and recommend a specific type.
  • Brain stimulation therapies: When medications and other approaches are not effective, some people with depression consider electroconvulsive therapy or other, more recent types of brain stimulation like repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation and vagus nerve stimulation . These treatments can be effective but are only provided under the guidance of a trained professional.

Treatment often isnt limited to just one of these approaches; in fact, combining medication and psychotherapy has shown higher rates of improvement than one approach alone.

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The Relationship Between Sleep Apnea And Stress Panic Attacks And Chest Pains

Recent data confirms that there is an association between Obstructive Sleep Apnea and anxiety. In its more serious forms, those with anxiety disorders will have elevated blood pressure, chest pains, and even panic attacks.

This is where the connection to sleep apnea comes in. Those key symptoms of sleep apneainsomnia, fatigue, sleeplessness, and irritabilitymay also trigger elevated blood pressure, chest pains, and panic attacks.

Why Do Sleep Panic Attacks Occur

Can sleep-tracking apps cause anxiety and insomnia?

As Dr. Bea mentioned before, the cause of nighttime panic attacks is relatively unknown, but it seems like theyre a manifestation of stress.

Sleep panic attacks might reflect other stressors arousal in the body. Its believed that this stress can be transmitted through genetic predispositions. This just tells you that our brains and bodies are active even when were sleeping.

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Does Anxiety Cause Sleep Apnea

OSA is a common cause of anxiety, but we cant be 100% sure that;anxiety causes sleep apnea;or not. Most researchers come to the point that stress can disturb good sleep which can eventually aggravate sleep apnea. Still, its important to note that while;anxiety and sleep apnea;often go together, one doesnt necessarily cause the other. However, even a basic correlation between anxiety and sleep apnea, you can see people who are anxious by nature suffer sleep deprivation.

What Causes Sleeping Panic Attacks

Even though the panic attack is said to occur while you sleep, the idea that it’s a “sleeping panic attack” may be a little misleading. Its very difficult to sleep throughout the course of these panic attacks, and the actual attack usually wakes you up, causing significant fear and disorientation.

There are many possible causes of panic attacks, generally speaking. Often, panic attacks during the day are caused by an interaction between your bodily sensations and your thoughts. During the night, however, this might not necessarily be the trigger, given that youre somewhat disconnected from your bodily and mental processes. There are, however, additional issues that may affect those who suffer from nocturnal panic attacks. These issues include:

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Sleep Apnea Can Affect Anxiety

Anxiety levels can be affected by a number of different physiological disorders, including the common sleep disorder known as sleep apnea. People with sleep apnea suffer repeated episodes of interrupted breathing throughout the night. These episodes usually last at least 10 seconds, and although the struggle for breath causes the sufferer to partially awaken, they do not remember the episodes in the morning. For this reason, many people with sleep apnea are not aware that they have the disorder.

The major symptom of sleep apnea is, logically, excessive sleepiness during the day. However, other symptoms are very similar to those experienced by people with anxiety disorders: anxiety, headaches, trouble concentrating, irritability, mood changes, and restless sleep. If you are experiencing these symptoms, it’s a good idea to visit your doctor to rule out sleep apnea as the culprit.

There is a relationship between sleep and anxiety, so it makes sense that people deprived of restful sleep by sleep apnea may experience anxiety symptoms as well. One study, conducted by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, found that people limited to 4.5 hours of sleep per night for a week felt more stressed, angry, sad, and mentally exhausted than usual; when they were allowed to sleep a normal amount, their mood improved significantly.

Tracking Your Stress And Mood

What Health Problems Can Sleep Apnea Cause?

CareClinic is a very useful stress tracker, helping you see when you are more stressed or relaxed. As you continue to track your mood, you will be able to see a general tendency and even a pattern in your stress level changes.

From a different perspective, the stress tracker app will help you understand that there are a lot of moments in which you felt perfectly fine, relaxed even. For this reason, it is important to take your time and record not only the moments that seem difficult or when your stress level is at its maximum. You can also record positive experiences and these will help you see the bigger picture. You can identify which factors help you deal with your stress.

The;mood tracking feature in CareClinic is important, it allows you to become more aware of your feelings and when stress occurs in relation to various situations. You will figure out the connection between a particular life event and your mood, discovering more effective stress management strategies.

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How To Get Rid Of Anxiety So You Can Sleep Better

If youre struggling to fall asleep due to anxiety, it could be that treating the anxiety will help solve your insomnia and lack of sleep as well. Anxiety disorders should only be diagnosed by a licensed therapist or medical professional, and these professionals can also help you find treatment regimens as well as, potentially, medications to control the condition. You should not try to self-medicate for anxiety disorders, and should only medicate per the medical advice and supervision of a psychiatrist.


One of the most common and effective treatments for anxiety disorders is continued and guided therapy with a professional counselor or therapist.

The branch of therapy known as;Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can be effective for many people, as it helps patients suffering from anxiety disorders create new, positive thought pathways that can help when in anxious situations. There are three different types of CBT, each with an individualized approach in treatment, including interpersonal therapy, thought records, and modern exposure therapy.

Another form of therapy is;Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, also known as ACT. This form of therapy is more focused on mindfulness training and taking action based on personal values, and is unique in that it is not focused on symptom reduction.


How Is Sleep Apnea Diagnosed

If your doctor determines that you have symptoms suggestive of sleep apnea, you may be asked to have a sleep evaluation with a sleep specialist or may order an overnight sleep study to objectively evaluate for sleep apnea.

  • Testing includes an overnight sleep study called a polysomnogram . A PSG is performed in a sleep laboratory under the direct supervision of a trained technologist. During the test, a variety of body functions, such as the electrical activity of the brain, eye movements, muscle activity, heart rate, breathing patterns, air flow, and blood oxygen levels are recorded at night during sleep. After the study is completed, the number of times breathing is impaired during sleep is tallied and the severity of the sleep apnea is graded.
  • For adults, a Home Sleep Test can sometimes be performed instead. This is a modified type of sleep study that can be done in the comfort of home. It records fewer body functions than PSG, including airflow, breathing effort, blood oxygen levels and snoring to confirm a diagnosis of moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea.

An HST is not appropriate to be used as a screening tool for patients without symptoms. Its not used for patients with significant medical problems . Its also not used for patients who have other sleep disorders in addition to the suspected obstructive sleep apnea.

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The Symptoms Of Sleep Apnea

There are several symptoms that a person can experience when they notice their breathing is disrupted while sleeping. These include Unexplained fatigue, fatigue that lingers after waking Loss of concentration, irritability and/or anxiety Having no awareness of something occurring during a dream Sleepwalking and snoring Sleep-deprived demeanor People with sleep apnea also often have poor muscle tone, making it harder for them to exhale during their sleep, making snoring more pronounced. Sleep Apnea Causes The main cause of sleep apnea is the enlarged soft palate, which is an elongated area of the palate that connects to the back of the nose. When this area of the palate collapses, it blocks the airway, preventing a person from breathing.

When To See A Doctor


A person should see a doctor if they find their anxiety is affecting their happiness and interfering with daily life.

If a person is experiencing intense, vivid dreams or lack of sleep that significantly affects their ability to function in their daily life, they should see a doctor as soon as possible.

In addition to prescribing medications and discussing lifestyle changes, a doctor may also recommend therapy.

CBT can help a person identify thoughts that may affect their ability to sleep at night.

Anxiety and poor sleep are closely connected. Both are treatable with interventions to promote better sleep and help a person adapt their way of thinking about sleep.

Through lifestyle changes, CBT, and medications, a person can start to live a healthier, more well-rested life.

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What Happens When You Have Chronic Stress

When you experience a perceived threat that is physical or psychological or real or imagined, your hormonal stress response gets triggered, creating a cascade of physical events. These changes lead to the release of glucocorticoids like cortisol by the endocrine system. The release of cortisol and other stress hormones creates a burst of energy that allows you to fight or run from a real and present danger that triggered your response.

A normal stress response involves a quick cortisol spike followed by a rapid decrease once the stressful event has occurred. The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis in the central nervous system is largely responsible for this increase and decrease. The HPA axis also plays an important role in modulating the 24-hour sleep-wake cycle. Prolonged stress levels have been correlated with HPA axis hyperactivity, decreased sleep duration, and reduced REM sleep;and;delta power. This leads to poorer quality sleep, impaired memory, poorer mood regulation, which can, in turn, lead to more stress.

How Does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Treat Sleep Anxiety

CBT is a form of psychotherapy, or talk therapy. It teaches you how to change your behavior by changing the way you think. Its a common treatment for people with anxiety. A special form of CBT called cognitive behavior therapy for insomnia focuses on helping people who have insomnia. This therapy can take anywhere from six to 12 weeks to produce results.

During CBT or CBTI, you may learn to:

  • Avoid behaviors or environmental factors that trigger your anxiety or make sleeping difficult.
  • Better understand how sleep and anxiety affect your brain and the rest of your body.
  • Change negative or inaccurate thinking about bedtime or sleep.

Your therapist may teach you how to sleep with anxiety by using biofeedback. Biofeedback trains you to control your bodys functions. You learn to relax your muscles, regulate your breathing, lower your heart rate and focus your attention. Your therapist might use special sensors to measure these bodily functions, or they may give you exercises, such as deep breathing and meditation, to do at home.

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What Is A Cpap Device And How Does It Work

A CPAP device is a machine that uses a hose and airtight nosepiece or mask to deliver a steady stream of air as you sleep. The air pressure helps keep your airway open, preventing pauses in breathing.

CPAP technology is constantly being updated and improved, and the new CPAP devices are lighter, quieter, and more comfortable than they used to be. So even if youve given up on them in the past, you owe it to yourself to give them a second look.

Tips To Improve Health And Comfort

Can Sleep Apnea Cause Anxiety?

Choose a CPAP device with a built-in humidifier. Most devices now include a built-in humidifier, which helps prevent the dryness and skin irritation that can sometimes occur.

If youre experiencing nasal congestion, you may prefer a full-face mask over a nasal or nasal pillow mask. Also be sure to keep your humidifier tank full, keep your tubing and mask clean, and make sure your filter is clean. Nasal sprays and antihistamines also help.

Keep your device clean. Its very important to clean your CPAP hose, nosepiece or mask, and humidifier tub regularly, as a dirty CPAP device can cause infections and even pneumonia. Your sleep doctor and device manufacturer will give you detailed cleaning instructions.

To ensure maximum comfort, ask your doctor about soft pads to reduce skin irritation, nasal pillows for nose discomfort, and chinstraps to keep your mouth closed and reduce throat irritation and dry mouth.

Mask the sound of the CPAP machine. Most new CPAP devices are quiet, but if the sound of your CPAP machine bothers you, try placing it beneath the bed and using a sound machine to muffle the noise.

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If You Have A Snorer In The House Youve Probably Heard Of This But Heres What Some People Dont Realize: Its More Than Just An Annoyance While Treatable It Can Have Serious Health Consequences

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Sleep apnea is the second most common sleep disorder after insomnia. With sleep apnea, involuntary pauses in breathing are caused by either a blocked airway or a signaling problem in the brain. Your throat muscles can collapse, your tongue can fall back into your airway, or your tongue or other obstruction can impede air flow. When your airway is cut off, the brain must wake itself to tell the respiratory system to take over, which can lead to gasps or snorts when breathing is resumed.

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