12 Nov Deep sleep relieves anxiety.
Sleep has many restorative features and ensuring we get good sleep, both in amount of time and overall quality, can ensure we are able to function better the following day. A new study has looked at the connection between one’s own sleep quality and anxiety levels they experience the following day.
A total of 18 young adults were enlisted for the study which involved them undergoing polysomnography tests and functional MRI scans to gauge their sleep quality and anxiety levels. Participants would view emotionally stirring video clips after a full night of sleep and then again after a sleepless night. Anxiety levels were measured following each session via a self-reported inventory based questionnaire called the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI).
Results showed that after a night of no sleep, scans of the brain showed the medial prefrontal cortex, the region usually responsible for controlling anxiety, not working as usual. On nights where the patient managed to sleep, and sleep well, this same region was active and self-reported anxiety levels were significantly lower. This study showed a direct connection between amount of deep sleep and the anxiety levels of the participant.
In a future study that replicated this one but with 30 participants instead of 18, similar results were found. Those that achieved more deep sleep showed lower levels of anxiety the following day. In yet another similar study but conducted online, enlisted 280 participants of all ages and tracked their deep sleep/anxiety levels over four consecutive days which showed that pending their quality of sleep, the anxiety levels for the next day could be somewhat predicted.
The importance of the study highlights a very real connection between amount of deep sleep one obtains and their anxiety levels for the following day. Due to this, prior to medicinal treatments for anxiety, perhaps a good night’s sleep should be recommended first?