Stressed to the max? A good night sleep can recharge your anxious brain

Have you forgotten what it’s like to have a normal sleep pattern? Well, you are not alone.

Nowadays, stress disorders are more common than ever.

Our brains have hundreds of tabs open, overthinking everything that could or have happened. Stressful situations often affect our sleeping cycle.

A new research from the University of California, Berkley, found that a sleepless night can cause up to a 30% rise in anxiety levels.

If we want to fight anxiety, we shouldn’t let that happen.

According to the researchers, the type of sleep which is most likely to calm and recharge a stressed brain is deep sleep. This non-rapid eye movement, or NREM, is a state in which neural vibrations become highly synchronized. Besides, in this slow-wave sleep, heart rates and blood pressure drop, which also relaxes our nervous system. Study lead author Eti Ben Simon shares with Science Daily:

“Our study strongly suggests that insufficient sleep amplifies levels of anxiety and, conversely, that deep sleep helps reduce such stress.”

Over 40 million Americans are diagnosed with anxiety, stress, depression, or similar mental disorder.

This study provides one of the strongest neural connections between sleep and anxiety disorders. In fact, they point out that sleep is a natural cure for stress-related complications. UC Berkley professor of neuroscience and psychology, Matthew Walker, claims:

“We have identified a new function of deep sleep, one that decreases anxiety overnight by reorganizing connections in the brain. Deep sleep seems to be a natural anxiolytic (anxiety inhibitor), so long as we get it each and every night.”

Researchers scanned the brains of 18 young adults in several experiments. Using MRI and polysomnography they examined the people’s reactions to emotionally stirring video clips. They did it once after a full night of deep sleep, and again after a sleepless night.

The results were clear.

After a night with poor or no sleep at all, the examinees’ brains were overactive and had much higher stress levels.

Walker explains:

“Without sleep, it’s almost as if the brain is too heavy on the emotional accelerator pedal, without enough brake.”

On the other hand, after a full night of deep sleep, anxiety levels were rather lowered. This proves that slow-wave NREM sleep is beneficial to our brains, serving as a natural recharger.

Not only the good night sleep reduces emotional and physiological reactivity, but it also calms our minds and prevents us from anxiety attacks.

To be completely certain of the results, scientists performed another study, this time with 30 participants. What is more, they handled online research with 280 people of all ages. The outcome was pretty much the same. Even subtle changes in their sleep affected their anxiety levels.

According to Ben Simon, poor quality sleep is common with people having stress-related issues.

“People with anxiety disorders routinely report having disturbed sleep, but rarely is sleep improvement considered as a clinical recommendation for lowering anxiety. Our study not only establishes a causal connection between sleep and anxiety, but it identifies the kind of deep NREM sleep we need to calm the overanxious brain.”

Stress shouldn’t be something we just put up with on a daily basis.

Try fighting it naturally by taking a good quality sleep tonight. You’ll surely feel more energized, refreshed, and relaxed in the morning.

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