How A Lack Of Sleep Contributes To Worsening Anxiety

January 25, 2018

“Sleep Better, Heal Better.”

Studies have shown that a lack of sleep can trigger anxiety in those who do not suffer from it on a regular basis, and that lack of sleep in anxiety sufferers can result in worsening of the underlying disorder. Below is a detailed explanation of how sleep deprivation contributes to the worsening of anxiety.

Lack of sleep causes brain stress

Studies show that lack of sleep can cause brain dysfunctions which can worsen anxiety. Even though the precise causes are not known, it is postulated that regeneration of neurons in the brain occurs during sleep. These neurons play a role in emotion, thought, and health.

Lacking sleep can adversely affect neuron regeneration, which can then harm that part of the brain which manages coping. Also, sleep deprivation can cause increased overall tension and stress in the brain as the brain overworks to compensate for dysfunction of some parts of the brain. All these factors contribute to worsen anxiety.

Lack of sleep causes body stress

Sleep deprivation can cause increased stress as well as prevent the body from alleviating itself of the stresses suffered during the day. During sleep, the body carries out repairs, relaxes tense muscles, and eases other problems triggered by stress.

Sleep deprivation causes a buildup of stress which may then result in more problems in coping with stresses of the new day. Studies have shown that increased stress on the body can trigger stressful thoughts which can then worsen anxiety in sufferers.

Lack of sleep causes abnormal physical symptoms

When the body is unable to rest and repair itself due to lack of sleep, it can result in varied physical symptoms like tingling in the arms and legs, weird firing of nerves, back aches, headaches, abnormal pains, etc.

When anxiety sufferers feel such symptoms they may misconstrue it to be signs of some serious illness and begin worrying about it which would then cause health anxiety. This can trigger racing thoughts, fear about possible worst outcomes, and panic, thereby leading to the worsening of anxiety.

Lack of sleep causes hormonal disturbances

Lack of sleep can disturb the balance of hormone levels. The body can efficiently regulate and manage hormone levels during sleep and when the body is in prime health. Sleep deprivation can harm the overall health of the body and thus also disturb hormonal balance. Such abnormal changes in hormone levels can eventually worsen anxiety.

Lack of sleep worsens anticipatory anxiety

Anticipatory anxiety is a feature of the brain. It is a natural kind of anxiety (like the anxiety that we feel before a big presentation or a test) and happens when the brain becomes ‘ready’ to experience anxiety in varied scenarios. Studies show that sleep deprivation can fire up the ‘fight or flight’ response as well as the insular cortex and amygdala which are brain regions that control emotional processing. Thus, lack of sleep can increase the instances of anticipatory anxiety and eventually worsen actual anxiety when faced with stresses.

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