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  • Tamara Cavenett

Not sleeping? Is it making you anxious?

Having completed considerable training in sleep psychology I’m always amazed at the number of people who overlook the role of sleep in mental health.

Misconceptions about sleep are rife and can often contribute to insomnia. There are also many simple, non-pharmacological, interventions to improve sleep that people are surprisingly unaware of.

Interestingly, recent research has suggested that a ‘lack of sleep can lead to feelings of anxiety, even among healthy people’ (more info here). In particular, it appears that slow wave sleep, often termed deep sleep, plays a significant role in this link. Slow wave sleep seems to be involved in a preventative effect by assisting the prefrontal cortex (the brains 'control center') to regulate emotions. Alcohol is also known to alter slow wave sleep.

Many factors cause and contribute to anxiety (not just sleep), however this research suggests if you are experiencing poor sleep it may be having an additional influence.

If you are experiencing insomnia or believe poor sleep may be playing a role in your anxiety, speak to your psychologist or medical practitioner for strategies to improve sleep quality.

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