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World sleep day - Sleep Anxiety

6 minutes

Stress and Anxiety: What's the Difference?Stress and anxiety can sometimes feel similar, but...

Stress and Anxiety: What's the Difference?

Stress and anxiety can sometimes feel similar, but there is a difference. Stress is the body's natural "fight or flight" response to an external trigger, such as a deadline or a doctor's appointment. It comes with physical sensations like quickened breathing and muscle tension, as well as emotional symptoms like feeling overwhelmed and agitated.

Anxiety, on the other hand, is characterized by persistent and excessive worrying. It's the body's natural response to stress. The relationship between anxiety and lack of sleep is complex, making it challenging to determine which comes first – sleeplessness or anxiety.

According to David Neubauer, MD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, this relationship is "bidirectional," meaning that they affect each other. Coping with mild stress and anxiety can involve practices like meditation and getting sufficient sleep.

How Sleeping Better Helps with Stress and Anxiety

Recent research from the University of California (UC) Berkeley suggests that deep sleep is a natural remedy for reducing anxiety.

The study found that excessive activity in brain regions linked to processing emotions increased after a night of sleeplessness, leading to a 30% increase in anxiety among sleep-deprived participants. In contrast, anxiety levels decreased after a night of sufficient sleep, especially in those who experienced longer periods of deep, slow-wave, non-REM sleep.

The researchers believe that deep sleep restores the brain's ability to regulate emotions and lower emotional reactivity, helping to prevent escalating anxiety levels.

Basic Tips for a Good Night's Sleep
  • Keep regular hours - Go to bed and wake up at the same time consistently to improve your sleep patterns.
  • Create a restful sleeping environment - Ensure your bedroom is quiet, dark, and at a comfortable temperature.
  • Have a comfortable bed - A suitable mattress and pillow are essential for restful sleep.
  • Get regular exercise - Physical activity can help relieve stress, but avoid exercising too close to bedtime.
  • Reduce stimulants - Avoid caffeine and have a calming drink like herbal tea before bedtime.
  • Avoid overindulging - Large meals or alcohol before bedtime can disrupt your sleep.
  • Avoid smoking - Smoking can lead to sleep disturbances.
  • Relax before bed - Activities like a warm bath, gentle music, or yoga can help relax your mind and body.
  • Make job lists - Organize tasks for the next day to ease worries.
  • Switch off devices - Turn off electronic devices at least an hour before bedtime to avoid blue light and excessive screen time.
  • If you can't sleep - Don't spend more than 20 minutes trying to sleep; do something relaxing and return to bed when sleepy.

If you need support for sleep problems, consider contacting Care first. They offer confidential counselling, information, and advice services to help employees with various concerns.

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