Sleep is an effective and acceptable escape from overthinking and anxiety. Now there’s a study confirming this association. According to this new study, a good night’s deep sleep can result in anxiety-reducing effects overnight.
The research highlights some significant associations between anxiety and sleep or lack thereof. It further reiterates the importance of sleep for better anxiety management and thus better overall health. One of the most significant highlights of this study, apart from pointing out that better sleep means lesser anxiety troubles, is that NREM (non-rapid eye movements) sleep is the best kind of sleep to reset the brain from anxiety to a calmer state.
It further observed that a 30% rise in anxiety can be triggered by a sleepless night. The association between sleep loss and increased anxiety was facilitated by impaired medial prefrontal cortex activity and associated connectivity with extended limbic regions.
“We have identified a new function of a deep sleep, one that decreases anxiety overnight by reorganizing connections in the brain,” said study senior author Matthew Walker, a UC Berkeley professor of neuroscience and psychology. “Deep sleep seems to be a natural anxiolytic (anxiety inhibitor), so long as we get it each and every night. Without sleep, it’s almost as if the brain is too heavy on the emotional accelerator pedal, without enough brake,” he added.
With these results, sleep comes across as a natural, non-pharmaceutical alternative for anxiety therapy, while NREM sleep assumes significance in such situations. The paper was published in the Nature Human Behaviour journal and was conducted by a team of researchers from UC Berkeley.