July 16, 2018

Sleep Deprivation: 6 Ways it Adversely Affects Anxiety

Written by Rachel Eddins

Posted in Anxiety and with tags: Anxiety, sleep

Sleep Deprivation 6 Ways it Adversely Affects Anxiety


We’ve been told from a young age just how important it is to get enough sleep. As children, we were forced to nap, much to our young dismay, because our bodies needed it. But somewhere along the line, maybe in college, possibly even earlier, we began to see sleep as an interruption to our productivity.

We Think That Sleep Gets in the Way

Perhaps it is an obsession with busyness or a fear of missing out, but whatever the reason, we’ve begun to see sleep as expendable. Instead, we identify more with how much we can accomplish in a 24-hour period.

Do you catch yourself thinking that the less sleep you get, the more work you can get done instead?

You’re not alone, and yet, this way of thinking is extremely dangerous. Poor sleep habits negatively impact your mental and physical well being. Just as food and water are needed to sustain the body, sleep is just as vital. It is no accident that reports of anxiety and chronic fatigue are ever increasing.

While a lack of sleep can impact us in a multitude of ways, one of the most damaging is how it significantly it elevates anxious thinking and behavior. Consider the following:


1. Anxiety due to sleep disruption puts physical stress on your body

Throughout the day, our bodies accumulate a lot of physical stress. So when we sleep, our bodies use this time efficiently to repair and restore themselves. Our bodies naturally relax the muscles that became tense during the course of the day and work naturally to relieve other physical stressors.

Without sleep, the physical stress from one day will build onto the next,  continuing to compound over time. Our minds and bodies are in tune with one another, they want to work together. Sleep deprivation creates an environment where physical stress and mental fatigue take a growing toll.

2. Lack of sleep disrupts hormone balance

Just as your body regulates its muscles during sleep, it also regulates its hormones during the sleep period. Hormone regulation is crucial for managing our emotional state. By depriving ourselves of sleep, we also risk unmanaged or disrupted hormones. When our hormones are not regulated properly, our stress and anxiety levels heighten significantly.

3. Sleeplessness creates anxiety over lack of sleep

Anxiety versus sleep disorders? Does one precede the other? Often we don’t know which came first. Many people with sleep disorders have anxiety, but just as many people with anxiety disorders have trouble sleeping. The sleep and anxiety cycle stresses the system terribly. In fact, part of this problematic cycle includes substantial anxiety over the fact that you’re not getting enough sleep.

4. Lack of sleep creates higher levels of adrenaline

Researchers also found that heightened levels of adrenaline often occur when our body doesn’t get enough sleep; one of our body’s reactions to anxiety.  Therefore, the lack of sleep coupled with an anxiety disorder may push your body’s adrenaline levels too high causing you to experience many of the symptoms of anxiety that create a vicious cycle of upset and sleeplessness.

5. Sleeplessness fosters panic attacks and mood issues

Feeling physically drained or tired is a pretty minor symptom of sleep deprivation in comparison to some others. One of the biggest physical health risks that accompanies sleep debt includes irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, and even increased potential for a heart attack.

These physical effects are detrimental to mental health too, as they can also induce panic attacks and dangerous mood swings. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, research links sleep deprivation and sleep disruption to “nearly all psychiatric disorders”.

6. Reduced brain function is a response to a lack of sleep

The stress that sleep deprivation puts on your brain is not something to take lightly. Research shows that severe sleep debt can cause paranoia, schizophrenia, as well as hallucinations. The brain is under so much stress that neurons won’t regenerate as they would if you were getting normal amounts of sleep.

Seek Help for Sleep Deprivation

All in all, remember that overstressing and undersleeping can cause major adverse effects on your mind and body in the long run. It’s vital that you take care of your body by getting enough sleep to help you prevent any life-threatening situations.

If you find you simply cannot get the sleep you need on your own, it is well worth your time to schedule visits with your physician and therapist. Get to the root of the problem together and finally rest easy.

To learn more about how anxiety counseling can help you, click here or contact Eddins Counseling Group in Houston for more information. To get started now give us a call to schedule an appointment at 832-559-2622 or schedule an appointment online.

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