Anxiety

How Anxiety Affects your Sleep

Anxiety is truly at epidemic levels in the UK. Research has revealed that in recent years, 8.2 million cases of anxiety were recorded, with women being twice as likely to suffer with anxiety than men. In the workplace, 1:6 people experience mental health problems(1). And that was before the impact of Covid-19. Anxiety lessens your ability to fall and remain asleep because of the involvement of the nervous system and the resulting disruption in hormone levels, so it comes as no surprise that anxiety has a direct link with insomnia(2). 

While anxiety is a normal response to fear or a stressful event, persistent anxiety has a snowball effect and creates a negative cycle – anxiety breeds more anxiety – leading to a learned response which becomes habitual, known as Anxiety Disorder (3). Whatever the anxiety disorder you have been diagnosed with (Generalised Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Phobia, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD)) – the common denominator is anxiety.

Anxiety is described in medical research as a state of hyper-arousal and is identified as a key factor in insomnia and the quality of sleep(4). Often accompanied by worry and rumination, which only compounds the inability to switch off, creates a constant state of anticipatory anxiety. Anxiety affects a person’s sleep cycles – the two clear stages of sleep (rapid eye movement (REM) and Non-REM). Recurrent disturbing dreams or nightmares will only enforce a fear of sleep, so insomnia takes root and in turn leads to more anxiety(5). For more on the science of sleep, read the excellent book, ‘Why we Sleep’ by Matthew Walker.

Anxiety also has physical effects. Typical bodily symptoms are muscular tension, a change in breathing rate – rapid breathing (hyperventilation) or shallow, withheld breath – heart palpitations, increased sweating, trembling and abdominal disturbances, all of which in themselves can lead to sleep disruption.

Current treatment involves managing the symptoms of anxiety and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. At SleepabilityTM, the focus is on treating anxiety with natural remedies, the selection of which is made after a thorough case history, which often reveals potential causative factors, offering a longer term solution and enabling your body to come off of red alert. Sadly, many sleeping tablets have serious side effects, even when taken short-term(6).

It is vital to address anxiety promptly as it often leads to more serious mental health problems. There is an inter-relationship between anxiety and depression and potentially psychiatric problems(7).

Contact me today and start your recovery to healthy sleep, naturally. Because sleep matters.

References

1 https://nopanic.org.uk/anxiety-statistics/

2 Taylor et al, 2005: ‘Epidemiology of Insomnia, depression and anxiety’ – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16335332/

3 National Institute of Mental Health, 2018: ‘Anxiety Disorders’ – https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders/index.shtml

4 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30046255/

5 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29542006/

6 Walker, Matthew 2018: ‘Why We Sleep’ – Penguin ISBN-10: 9780141983769; ISBN-13: 978-0141983769

7 Taylor et al, 2005: ‘Epidemiology of Insomnia, depression and anxiety’ – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16335332/

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