Can Lack of Sleep Cause Anxiety?
Learn about the link between sleep and mood, whether sleep deprivation can cause anxiety, why your anxiety is worse at night, and ways you can deal with it.
Published January 26, 2022.
It is a well-known fact that sleep deprivation can exacerbate and increase the risk of several physical issues, such as heart disease, as well as mood-related disorders like depression.
However, can not getting enough sleep actually cause anxiety?
How Sleep and Mood Are Related
Contrary to popular belief, only a minuscule amount (~3%) of the population can function normally on 6 hours of sleep a night. Though the amount of hours you need varies depending on age and physiology, any less than 7 will amount to the symptoms and risks of sleep deprivation.
Although poor moods can affect sleep quality, studies have found the inverse significantly more true. Sleep deprivation can cause fatigue, lack of focus, and even flu-like symptoms, all of which can contribute to a negative mood.
Additionally, research has shown that the effect of poor sleep quality on healthy individuals is more significant than individuals suffering from existing mood-related disorders. This means that, although lack of sleep can make anxiety worse, it can also trigger panic attacks and other symptoms of anxiety in those who otherwise do not experience them.
Why Does Anxiety Get Worse at Night?
Although it's difficult to explain exactly why your anxiety might be worse at night, there are several possible reasons that this might be the case:
- Amounting sleep deprivation Morning anxiety from not sleeping can be exacerbated throughout the day as you become more fatigued from completing daily tasks. This effect compounds over several days.
- Anxiety about sleep In the case of individuals who struggle with sleep due to a poor sleep schedule, conditions like insomnia, or environmental factors like a crime-ridden neighbourhood, the prospect of fighting to fall asleep can trigger symptoms of anxiety. Additionally, if you are aware that your anxiety is caused by sleep deprivation, you will likely experience anxiety about not getting enough sleep.
- Stress factors If external factors are plaguing you, such as problems at work, anxiety towards it can increase into the evening as you come closer to having to face them again.
Can Better Sleep Quality Improve Anxiety Symptoms?
If your anxiety is due solely to lack of sleep, then it stands to reason that improving your sleep quality will likely reduce your symptoms. However, it cannot be overstated that chronic anxiety could result from psychiatric disorders that won't likely be fixed by natural techniques and sleep aids.
If you suspect that you suffer from something more severe, seek professional help as soon as possible.
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