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The Struggle Against Sleep Deprivation and Anxiety

a woman is experiencing sleep loss and headaches

Struggling with sleep deprivation and anxiety is something that a lot of people experience. The two problems can make each other worse – you may be unable to sleep because you feel anxious, but a lack of sleep can exacerbate your anxiety. According to the Sleep Foundation, anxiety is frequently connected to sleeping problems. Excess worry and fear make it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep through the night. Sleep deprivation can worsen anxiety, spurring a negative cycle involving insomnia and anxiety disorders.

Because these two issues often go hand-in-hand, it's a good idea to look at the two problems together. Addressing them both at the same time can help to really deal with each issue, reducing anxiety and improving your sleep.

About anxiety

Anxiety is a feeling of worry and fear. Everyone experiences anxiety sometimes, but for some people, it can start to have a significant effect on their life. This may be because they're going through a short period of stress and heightened anxiety or it can sometimes be due to an anxiety disorder. There are a number of anxiety and panic disorders, which can affect people in different ways and cause a range of symptoms. If you're experiencing anxiety, you might feel nervous or on-edge or have a feeling of impending doom. Physical symptoms can include a racing heart, rapid breathing, tense muscles, sweating, and more.

You can feel anxiety at different times and find that various things make you feel anxious, or sometimes it might seem like you feel anxious for no reason at all. Some people can experience anxiety exclusively at night, which can have a negative impact on their sleep.

The connection between anxiety and sleep deprivation

Anxiety and sleep deprivation can often appear together. In fact, you might not be sure which one came first. Sleep disturbances are a symptom of anxiety disorders and Sleep Foundation says that "a state of mental hyperarousal, frequently marked by worry, has been identified as a key factor behind insomnia.” Feeling distressed about falling asleep can create anxiety, which can make it difficult for some people to even go to bed. Anxiety might affect REM sleep and provoke more vivid, disturbing dreaming.

Sleep deprivation can also instigate or worsen anxiety. People who are prone to anxiety have been found to be more sensitive to the effects of inefficient sleep. Not getting enough sleep can affect your mood and mental health too. Anxiety is also often experienced together with depression, which also creates complications that make it more difficult to get a healthy amount of sleep.

Obstructive sleep apnea is another complicating factor. The condition causes lapses in breathing and interrupted sleep, meaning that many people who have it get less sleep than they should. People who have obstructive sleep apnea have been found to have higher rates of mental health problems, including anxiety, depression, and panic disorder.

Treatments for anxiety and sleep deprivation

As sleep deprivation and anxiety can both be experienced at the same time and may feed into each other, it's a good idea to look at them together when considering treatment. It can be hard to work out whether the sleep problems or the anxiety came first. When both problems are looked at, you can treat them in turn.

There are various treatments for anxiety that might help you. They include talking therapy, medication, breathing exercises, changing your diet and exercise habits, creating a consistent bedtime routine, and more. A medical professional can help you to address the causes of your anxiety and give you methods to cope with it.

If you think that you could have sleep apnea or you're not sure why you're not sleeping well, a sleep study can help to find out if obstructive sleep apnea is causing you problems. If it is, there are some different treatments that can help. A special mask that you wear to bed attached to a machine called a CPAP ensures you keep breathing through the night by stopping the tissues in your throat from collapsing, which is what causes you to stop breathing. Your doctor might also recommend that you lose weight or make other lifestyle changes, such as drinking less alcohol and caffeine or changing your sleeping position. Surgery can also be an option, but non-invasive treatments are usually tried first.

Snoring and sleep apnea can cause sleep deprivation. At ENT Physicians Inc., we specialize in treating snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. Call us today at 419-776-5028 to find out more about how we can help you to get a good night's sleep.