The Link Between Sleep and Anxiety

When it comes to managing symptoms of anxiety, sleep is nature’s remedy. Whilst a good night’s slumber stabilises emotions, a sleepless night can trigger up to a 30% rise in anxiety levels.

Sleep researchers have found that the phase of sleep most apt to calm and reset the anxious brain is deep sleep, also known as non-rapid eye movement (NREM) or slow-wave sleep. During this state brain waves become highly synchronised and heart rate and blood pressure drops.

Experiments using MRI brain scans have shown that the amount and quality of sleep we get from one night to the next predicts how anxious we will feel the next day. Even subtle nightly changes in sleep can affect our anxiety levels. Insufficient quality sleep amplifies the brain areas involved in emotion, and the prefrontal cortex (an area that can put the brakes on anxiety) is less active.

Deep sleep decreases anxiety overnight by reorganising connections in the brain. It seems to be our natural anxiety inhibitor, so long as we get it each and every night.

Insomnia Anxiety Cycle

For those struggling with anxiety, getting a healthy amount of deep sleep each night can be easier said than done. I have routinely found that clients who seek help to reduce anxiety are also experiencing some difficulty with their sleep patterns, either finding it hard to fall off to sleep or difficulty staying asleep through the night. It may be that lack of quality sleep triggered some general anxiety in the first place, or that heightened stress or worry about something in particular is now affecting sleep. Either way, we can find ourselves in a vicious cycle where lack of sleep causes anxiety and vice versa. And of course, worries about not sleeping causes more anxiety and exacerbates the problem.

Hypnotherapy for Better Sleep

If we’ve been struggling with sleep for a period of time it’s natural that we may have developed a negative expectation of a good night’s sleep. Some clients report at the outset of therapy that they “dread bedtime”. Unfortunately, if you think you won’t be able to sleep it’s almost certain that you won’t and so the negative cycle sets in with more expectations of not sleeping.

Hypnotherapy breaks the vicious cycle of insomnia and anxiety.

Through a combination of solution-focused talking therapy and hypnosis, hypnotherapy helps to address any underlying anxiety and stress, often caused by work, relationship, health or financial worries. We work to positively reframe the way you think and feel about sleep and bedtime, and re-programme the mind in expectation of a good night’s sleep. Hypnosis is a deep state of relaxation, relaxation in itself being one of the key elements in falling asleep easily. Through hypnosis we can re-train the mind into relaxing and develop new and positive expectations of sleep, allowing all those bedtime concerns to be a thing of the past.

To find out more about hypnotherapy and how it can help you to sleep well and reduce anxiety, please call 07514 931 096 or email me using the contact form.

Appointments are available online, in Wellfield Clinic in Penarth and in Tiverton in Devon.



Neuroscience News