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Does Not Enough Sleep Cause Anxiety

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Inability To Get Pregnant

Sleep, Anxiety, and Insomnia: How to Sleep Better When You’re Anxious

Undereating may interfere with a womans ability to become pregnant.

The hypothalamus and pituitary gland located in your brain work together to maintain hormonal balance, including reproductive health.

The hypothalamus receives signals from your body that let it know when hormone levels need to be adjusted.

Based on the signals it receives, the hypothalamus produces hormones that either stimulate or inhibit production of estrogen, progesterone and other hormones by your pituitary gland.

Research has shown that this complex system is highly sensitive to changes in calorie intake and weight .

When your calorie intake or body fat percentage drops too low, signals may become impaired, leading to changes in the amount of hormones released.

Without the proper balance of reproductive hormones, pregnancy cannot take place. The first sign of this is hypothalamic amenorrhea, or having no menstrual period for three months or longer .

In an older study, when 36 underweight women with amenorrhea or infertility related to calorie restriction increased their calorie intake and achieved ideal body weight, 90% began menstruating and 73% became pregnant .

If you are trying to conceive, make sure to consume a well-balanced, adequate-calorie diet in order to ensure proper hormonal function and a healthy pregnancy.

Summary:

Consuming too few calories can disrupt reproductive hormone signals, leading to difficulty getting pregnant.

Get Rid Of Your Clock

Clocks can be a common trigger for anxiety, especially when youre trying to fall asleep. Instead of having a clock by your bedside where you can glance at it every time you struggle to fall asleep keep a clock outside your room instead. Looking at the clock will only cause your anxiety to get worse, so avoid it altogether.

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:

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The Relationship Between Sleep And Mental Health

The relationship between mental health and sleep isnt entirely understood yet. But according to Harvard Health Publishing, neurochemistry studies and neuroimaging suggests:

  • an adequate nights sleep helps nurture both mental and emotional resilience
  • chronic sleep disruptions might generate negative thinking and emotional sensibility

Its also implied that treating insomnia may help alleviate the symptoms associated with an anxiety disorder and vice versa.

What Are The Types Of Anxiety Disorders

How Not Getting Enough Sleep Damages Your Health

Anxiety is a core element of a number of specific disorders, although not all are categorized strictly as anxiety disorders.

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder : People with GAD have significant, looming worries about many different things that can cause an overarching sense of anxiety.
  • Panic Disorder: Extremely intense episodes of fear, known as panic attacks, that usually last for a few minutes at a time are the defining feature of Panic Disorder.
  • Social Anxiety Disorder: This disorder involves an extreme fear of social settings and potential embarrassment in front of other people.
  • Specific Phobias: Specific phobias are intense fears caused by particular triggers. Some of the most common specific phobias include agoraphobia and separation anxiety.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder : In OCD, a person obsesses about an issue in a negative way such that it provokes anxiety, and this causes a compulsion, which is their attempt to control or eliminate that anxiety. Compulsions are repeated ritually and can directly impact everyday activities.
  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder : This condition can arise after a person is exposed to a painful or disturbing situation. People with PTSD may relive the stressful event, feel on-edge, and have potentially debilitating anxiety.

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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.

How To Sleep With Anxiety

Sleep problems are extremely common for those struggling with anxiety. Ideally, you’ll need to focus on reducing your anxiety and stress in general so that you’re less consumed by the negative thoughts and experiences, and can drift off to sleep more easily.

There are tips and strategies you can use to get more rest with anxiety. Consider the following:

Mental distractions can also be beneficial, especially for heavy sleepers. Some people find that turning on radios, podcasts, or television sets, and putting the volume as low as possible so that you can barely make out the words can be helpful. Your mind tries to listen to the distraction, causing it to stop focusing on the stressful thoughts, and ultimately you’re able to fall asleep.

This solution does not work for everyone, however.

Another important thing that you can do is to create a bedtime routine. It can be difficult to go through your daily activities and then get into bed and just turn everything off. By giving yourself an hour before you want to fall asleep to go through the same motions every night you train your brain and your body to prepare for sleep. This in turn can make it easier to both fall, and stay asleep.

Unfortunately, these tips are likely not enough. You still need to stop experiencing anxiety so that sleep comes much more naturally.

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Tips For Improving Sleep And Managing Anxiety

Move your body Exercise has been found to both lower anxiety and improve sleep. But try not to exercise right before sleep, as it can keep you awake. Moving your body in the morning or afternoon can help you get your sleeping and waking cycle back on track and also treat insomnia or sleep apnea.3

Tailor your environment Controlling light, sound, and temperature can help you get a good nights rest. The darker, quieter, and cooler you can keep your bedroom, the greater chance you have of calming your mind and falling asleep. Taking a shower or bath shortly before bed can also help lower your body temperature and help you fall asleep more quickly.

Limit caffeine and alcohol Drinking too much caffeine or consuming it too late in the day can increase anxiety and inhibit sleep. Consuming alcohol close to bedtime can also increase your heart rate and keep you up.4 Drink plenty of water throughout the day, but dont drink too much before bedtime, as trips to the bathroom can keep you anxious and alert.

Calm your mind There are many relaxation techniques that can help you calm your mind throughout the day and improve sleep. Mindfulness meditation, yoga, and breathing exercise can help you achieve calm, but it can also be as simple as taking a walk when you have a short break at work. If you practice techniques for calming your mind during the day, then it will be easier to trigger your relaxation response at night.

Losing Sleep Can Make You Gain Weight

Sleep Related Anxiety Symptoms!

When it comes to body weight, it may be that if you snooze, you lose. Lack of sleep seems to be related to an increase in hunger and appetite, and possibly to obesity. According to a 2004 study, people who sleep less than six hours a day were almost 30 percent more likely to become obese than those who slept seven to nine hours.

Recent research has focused on the link between sleep and the peptides that regulate appetite. ââ¬ÅGhrelin stimulates hunger and leptin signals satiety to the brain and suppresses appetite,ââ¬ï¿½ says Siebern. ââ¬ÅShortened sleep time is associated with decreases in leptin and elevations in ghrelin.ââ¬ï¿½

Not only does sleep loss appear to stimulate appetite. It also stimulates cravings for high-fat, high-carbohydrate foods. Ongoing studies are considering whether adequate sleep should be a standard part of weight loss programs.

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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.

Stalked By Chronic Nightmares

Chronic nightmares are another troublesome sleep disorder that can cause fear, says Shelby Harris, PsyD, CBSM, director of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program at the Montefiore Medical Centerâs Sleep-Wake Disorders Center in New York City. Children are especially vulnerable, but adults especially those who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder experience nightmares, too.

Joni Aldrich, 57, of Winston-Salem, N.C., began to dread sleep after she lost her husband to brain cancer four years ago. After he had a seizure, she had to make the difficult decision to suspend treatment, an experience that traumatized her.

Every night, she had nightmares of him begging her to help him, but she couldnât. She would awaken shaking. Aldrich finally got help from a counselor and began taking an anti-anxiety medication to help her sleep. âI still take the anti-anxiety medication in a very low dose, because I fear the results otherwise,â says Aldrich, CEO of Cancer Lifeline Publications. âEven one of those nightmares wouldnt be worth it. And, I still go to bed later than I should just to make sure that Im really tired.â

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Which Problem Comes First

The majority of evidence suggests the relationship between sleep problems and anxiety and depression is strong and goes both ways.

This means sleep problems can lead to anxiety and depression, and vice versa. For example, worrying and feeling tense during bedtime can make it difficult to fall asleep, but having trouble falling asleep, and in turn not getting enough sleep, can also result in more anxiety.

Sleep disturbance, particularly insomnia, has been shown to follow anxiety and precede depression in some people, but it is also a common symptom of both disorders.

Trying to tease apart which problem comes first, in whom, and under what circumstances, is difficult. It may depend on when in life the problems occur. Emerging evidence shows sleep problems in adolescence might predict depression . However, this pattern is not as strong in adults.

The specific type of sleep problem occurring may be of importance. For example, anxiety but not depression has been shown to predict excessive daytime sleepiness. Depression and anxiety also commonly occur together, which complicates the relationship.

Although the exact mechanisms that govern the sleep, anxiety and depression link are unclear, there is overlap in some of the underlying processes that are more generally related to sleep and emotions.

And If You Still Cant Sleep

Can Sleep Deprivation Cause Anxiety Depression

So what can you do if you cant sleep when you want to, or if you cant stay asleep?

The first step is to talk to your GP. They will help you work out whether a common condition is affecting your sleep, such as:

  • insomnia
  • jet lag and shift working
  • sleepwalking, nightmares and night terrors
  • restless legs
  • snoring
  • sleep apnoea.

Your GP can talk to you about some non-medical treatments for sleep disorders, such as relaxation training. Smiling mind has useful techniques for children and adults. Other strategies include stimulus control and cognitive behaviour therapy .

Your GP may also prescribe you medication or sleeping tablets, which can help you fall asleep. But medication will not be enough in the long run. It can help you fall asleep, but it wont help you with an underlying problem like stress or anxiety. It also becomes less effective over time . And it can be addictive.

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Lack Of Sleep May Cause Depression Anxiety

Melina Delkic WorldSleepDepressionAnxietyScience

Researchers in the U.K. have found that difficulty sleeping can cause or worsen depression, anxiety, paranoia and hallucinations. But there’s a silver lining: Treating those sleep problems can quickly and significantly improve mental health disorders.

“You look back and think, How do we not give insomnia the attention it deserved?” reflected Paul Harrison, a co-author of the study and the associate head of research in Oxford University’s psychiatry department. Poor sleep, one of the most common symptoms of depression, “may precede its onset,” he said. It’s a new realization in the field of psychiatry.

In the treatment of mental health disorders, sleep problems have generally been “given a low priority,” according to the study, published in the journal Lancet Psychiatry.

A lack of sleep is seen as “a symptom, consequence, or nonspecific epiphenomenon of the disorders,” reads the study. But the researchers42 of them, hailing from Oxford University, Liverpool University, Glasgow University and othersfound that treating and improving sleep problems led to “improvements in depression, and improvements in anxiety, prodromal symptoms, nightmares, psychological well-being, and functioning, and all these improvements were maintained over time.”

The study is based on college students”an age group in the greatest risk of developing anxiety and depression,” Harrison said.

How Much Sleep Do We Need

Most of us need around 8 hours of good-quality sleep a night to function properly but some need more and some less. What matters is that you find out how much sleep you need and then try to achieve it.

As a general rule, if you wake up tired and spend the day longing for a chance to have a nap, its likely that youre not getting enough sleep.

A variety of factors can cause poor sleep, including health conditions such as sleep apnoea. But in most cases, its due to bad sleeping habits.

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Anxiety And Sleep Problems

When you sleep your mind and body relax, so the next day you’re sharper and able to withstand some of life’s daily stresses. For those with anxiety however, sleep is not always easy to come by.

Sleep problems are extremely common in those with persistent stress, and in many cases it can actually cause a cycle that makes it harder to overcome anxiety in the future.

Signs And Symptoms Of Sleep Deprivation

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You may be sleep deprived if you:

  • Feel tired, irritable, and fatigued during the day yawn frequently.
  • Have difficulty focusing or remembering things.
  • Feel less interested in sex.
  • Find it difficult to get out of bed in the morning, need an alarm clock to wake up on time, or repeatedly hit the snooze button.
  • Feel lethargic or drowsy in the afternoon.
  • Find it difficult to stay awake in lectures, meetings, warm rooms, while driving or commuting, or after a heavy meal.
  • Have to take a nap during the day.
  • Fall asleep on the couch in the evening.
  • Are asleep within five minutes of going to bed.
  • Need to sleep late on weekends.
  • Have experienced mood changes, including feeling depressed, anxious, stressed, paranoid, or suicidal.

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Sleep Loss Increases Anxiety

Are you tired and grumpy and feel on the edge? Do you catch yourself worrying more?

If the answer is yes, the issue may be a lack of sleep, say researchers at the University of California Berkeley.

Scientists have found that a lack of sleep, common in anxiety disorders, may play a key role in activating brain regions that contribute to excessive worrying.

Neuroscientists have found that sleep deprivation fires up areas of the brain associated with emotional processing. The resulting pattern mimics the abnormal neural activity seen in anxiety disorders.

Researchers also believe that chronic worriers those who are naturally more anxious and therefore more likely to develop a full-blown anxiety disorder are acutely vulnerable to the impact of insufficient sleep.

These findings help us realize that those people who are anxious by nature are the same people who will suffer the greatest harm from sleep deprivation, said Matthew Walker, Ph.D., the senior author of a paper published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

The results suggest that people suffering from such maladies as generalized anxiety disorder, panic attacks and post-traumatic stress disorder, may benefit substantially from sleep therapy.

If sleep disruption is a key factor in anxiety disorders, as this study suggests, then its a potentially treatable target, Walker said.

Last medically reviewed on June 27, 2013

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