There are fewer things more frustrating than a sleepless night, as you often find yourself overthinking and end up exhausted the next day.
In fact, the correlation between a sleepless night and anxiety is stronger than you think, according to new research by the University of California.
Their new study, which was published in the journal Nature Human Behaviour, examined 18 young adults. Participants were shown ‘emotionally stirring video clips’ twice, once after a full night of sleep, and once after a sleepless night.
Following exposure to these clips, participants were asked to measure their anxiety levels using a questionnaire.
They discovered that when you’ve had a full night of deep sleep, your brain is more able to calm anxious thoughts. A sleepless night, however, can make a person thirty per cent more anxious.
There’s also a type of sleep that stabilises an anxious mind, which is called non-rapid eye movement slow-wave sleep. In the brain scans taking place after a night of no sleep, participants’ medial prefrontal cortexes had shut down.
Normally, this is the part of the brain that controls anxiety so because it had shut down in the tired subjects, the deeper emotional control rooms of the brain were overactive.
However, due to the small amount of participants, additional research would be required in order to make any conclusive findings. But this does suggest that the best remedy for anxiety is a good night’s sleep.
Senior study author Matthew Walker, professor of neuroscience and psychology at Berkeley described this kind of sleep as a ‘natural anxiolytic’, otherwise known as an anxiety inhibitor.
If you’re not getting the type of sleep you need, we’ve put together a sleep guide for every type of sleeper.
Hopefully this will help you drift off easier and stay asleep, helping to curb feelings of anxiety as best you can.