Can Sleep Help Anxiety?

Can Sleep Help Anxiety?

Can Sleep Improve My Anxiety?

At some point, nearly 30% of all adults will experience some form of anxiety. More than temporary stress, anxiety must meet two specific conditions:

  1. Fear that is out of proportion to the situation.
  2. Injure your ability to live a normal life.

Psychiatrists recommend a range of treatment methods to address anxiety, from medicine to cognitive behavioral therapy. They also suggest that you follow specific lifestyle recommendations that can help ease anxiety symptoms. This list of suggestions typically includes items like a nutrient-rich diet, healthy amount of exercise, and 7-9 hours of sleep each night.

Sleep can help improve your anxiety. However, sleep alone is not enough to effectively treat anxiety. For best results, doctors recommend healthy sleep hygiene alongside other treatment methods to address symptoms of anxiety.

Why is Sleep So Important?

Sleep is one of the single-most important things you can do to protect your health. Adequate sleep provides your body with time to heal wounds, encourage digestion, and perform various other physical processes. Getting enough sleep is also important for the brain: it helps you appropriately store memories, balance hormones, and regulate nerve communication.

Even if you don’t struggle with anxiety, sleep health is critically important in preparing your body for each new day. Sufficient sleep gives your body the energy it needs to function. Just as easily, insufficient sleep can lead to problems like irritability, fatigue, even conditions like sleep apnea.

How are Sleep and Anxiety Connected?

Anxiety and sleep share a few important connections. Your sleep length and quality can affect how much — and how often — anxiety might affect you on a given day.

Studies continually demonstrate a relationship between a lack of sleep and increased anxiety. A lack of sleep stimulates the body into excessive cortisol production, a stress hormone. This hormone is known for stimulating your nervous system, making it even more difficult for your already sleep-deprived body to achieve rest and recovery. Even a single night of low-quality sleep can increase the amount of anxiety you feel the next day.

The relationship also works in reverse: anxiety itself can disrupt your sleep. If you suffer from anxiety, particularly during the evening, you might find it more difficult to fall asleep. This anxiety-induced challenge quickly creates a damaging cycle, where anxiety reduces your quality of sleep, which in turn makes anxiety even more difficult to manage.

How Does Sleep Help Reduce Anxiety?

Sleep alone is not a sufficient treatment method to reduce anxiety. However, getting enough sleep each night is one of the best things you can do to keep anxiety at bay.

Here are a few specific ways that you can emphasize sleep to alleviate anxiety:

  • Follow a regular sleep schedule: Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day helps to reinforce your body’s internal clock. This can make it easier to fall asleep, and stay asleep, when you want to. Keep to a regular sleep schedule to reinforce sleep without giving anxiety time to interfere.
  • Create a distraction-free sleep environment: Your bedroom should be your safe place. Make sure that you keep your bedroom a cool temperature, free from anything that might make sleep more difficult. Minimize noises, unless it’s white noise you’re using to help you sleep.
  • Protect your bedroom: After creating a distraction-free bedroom setting, it’s time to protect it. Refrain from doing work in your bedroom or your bed if you feel that will disrupt your sleep environment. Don’t use electronics like your phone or computer in your bedroom, or anywhere, at least 60 minutes before you plan on falling asleep.
  • Avoid stimulants: Substances like caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol can all negatively affect the quality of your sleep. Before bed, these same substances can be particularly damaging, stimulating your brain at the same time you’re trying to wind down. Avoid stimulants, and the anxiety they can induce, whenever you’re seeking sleep.
  • Wind down at the end of the day: Don’t try to transition directly from work time to sleep time. Instead, give yourself time to slow your pace after a productive afternoon. Consider reading a book, participating in meditation or yoga, taking a bath, or taking a calming walk before turning in for bed.

In isolation, these activities are not enough to prevent anxiety. However, they can help mute your symptoms and allow sleep to do its job.

If you consistently find that anxiety compromises your sleep quality, it might be time to seek professional help. Psychiatrists and sleep specialists can help you uncover and address underlying issues that might stand between you and the full night’s rest that you deserve.

What Else Can I Do to Encourage Productive Sleep?

Sleep is necessary for your mental well-being. It’s also important in helping you preserve mental clarity, mood, and productivity. Even if you’re already familiar with the basics of good sleep hygiene, let’s explore a few more ways that good sleep can encourage productive, restorative rest.

1. Understand Your Body’s Sleep Chronotype

Common knowledge tells us that we should live our lives during the day and sleep at night. While that’s true, your body’s ideal rest and wake periods might be different from someone else’s. Your natural tendency to wake at a certain time, and sleep at a certain time, is known as your body’s sleep chronotype.

Unlike your circadian rhythm, which regulates your body’s sleep-wake cycles, your chronotype isn’t influenced by any external factors like noise or light. If you consistently experience poor-quality sleep — even though you follow a strict sleep schedule, diet, and exercise pattern — it’s possible that you’re simply fighting against your body’s natural chronotype.

2. Track Your Sleep

There are so many ways to learn more about your nightly sleep. Some people use sleep tracking apps that record all sorts of information about your respiration, heart rate, and movements. Other people choose to write in a sleep journal, where they’ll record details about the previous night’s sleep patterns. No matter the method you choose, tracking your sleep is a great first step in learning more about the levels of rest and recovery you achieve.

3. Use the Right Mattress

Not all mattresses are created equal. Some are engineered for specific body types. Others are made for people who enjoy more pressure on their joints. In the world of sleep, finding the right mattress can be a difficult, but worthwhile, process.

At Mattress Warehouse, we’ve taken the guesswork out of the mattress discovery process. Our patented bedMATCH sleep diagnostic program helps you identify the best mattress options for your sleep metrics. It considers your height, weight, shoulder width, and other measurements before recommending potential mattresses that match the support parameters you need.

Take our five-minute bedMATCH sleep quiz today to determine exactly which mattresses can help you minimize anxiety and take better sleep for a spin.

Back to blog