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Sleep Deprivation and Anxiety: How To Improve Both In Your Routine

July 7th, 2022 | 3 min. read

Sleep Deprivation and Anxiety: How To Improve Both In Your Routine
Matt Smith

Matt Smith

Licensed Physical Therapist PT, DPT // EW Motion Therapy Tuscaloosa

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When you don’t get enough sleep, it can affect your body in multiple ways. You may feel cranky at work the next day, have trouble accomplishing your daily tasks, and even develop headaches or migraines. When you have anxiety, getting enough sleep is paramount to your daily functioning. How can you promote good quality sleep when you start to feel anxious about sleeping well?


When you have anxiety, it can severely inhibit your ability to accomplish daily tasks and take care of yourself. Getting good sleep is part of that, but so is a healthy, active lifestyle. We encourage this among our patients at EW Motion Therapy, and we do our best as physical therapists to provide them with helpful advice so they can thrive outside the clinic. Even if you do not choose physical therapy or wellness services with us, we still want to discuss how sleep and anxiety can affect your daily routine.


This article discusses the relationship between sleep and anxiety, the health issues they can cause and contribute to, and some things you can do to help. With this information, you can aim for the best quality of sleep and wake up ready to take on your day. 


How do they affect each other? 

Sleep allows your brain to reset and repair itself, and when that repair process is interrupted, your brain cannot get the rest it craves. You may face increased anxiety the next day when you don’t get proper sleep. Sleep deprivation also affects your stress responses, and part of anxiety is your brain being stuck in a perpetual stress response, so inadequate sleep is not helpful in any way.


On the other hand, when you experience an increase in anxiety, you may not sleep well. If you have a big work presentation or life event the following day, it is easy to develop insomnia and prevent your brain from going into the proper sleep cycle. This can quickly become a vicious cycle - inadequate sleep that leads to more anxiety which in turn causes you not to sleep. This process is much easier to prevent than to break, so prioritizing sleep in your daily routine is essential to a balanced lifestyle. 


What other health issues can they cause? 

Consistent sleep deprivation and increased anxiety can lead to many health issues. Because your body doesn’t get the proper amount of sleep in order to repair itself, you put yourself at a higher risk for diabetes, heart failure, and coronary heart disease. This can even lead to an increased risk of reduced brain function. Your brain needs time to repair cells and remove waste proteins just like the rest of your body, and when it does not have the time to do those repairs during sleep, it becomes more vulnerable to damage. Anxiety also goes hand in hand with other mental health conditions, such as depression. These effects can be life-altering, which is why sleep is vital to longevity and optimum functioning.


What can I do to help?

Talking to a mental health professional about your anxiety is never a bad idea. They can help you talk to your doctor about potential medications and other forms of treatment. But, one of the easiest things you can do to help decrease anxiety in the meantime is to prioritize healthy sleep habits in your routine. Avoid caffeine and heavy meals at least one hour before you go to bed, and put down your electronics around the same time to decrease your response to the blue light. To fall asleep faster, try meditation or another breathing exercise, so you can slow down and get the best night’s sleep possible. Also, do not use your bed for any purpose besides sleeping. If you keep your bed as a space for only rest, not watching TV or doing work-related tasks, it signals to your body whenever you get in bed that it is time for sleep. 


How else can I reduce anxiety? 

Now you know more about how sleep and anxiety can work together to affect your daily functioning. It is easy to allow anxiety to take over your life if it goes untreated, and you can always talk to your doctor about medication options. But, if you do not want to take medication or feel that you have not gotten to that level, there are many other stress management techniques you can implement to help. Try going for a walk outside or stepping away from your computer and phone screens for a while. 


Adequate sleep is a crucial part of a healthy lifestyle, along with proper nutrition and exercise. At EW Motion Therapy, we have programs in place to help our clients with all aspects of healthy living, and we want to tailor a treatment plan to your needs and goals. If you are interested in working with us to build healthy habits, answer the questions in our Program Match Tool to find the program that best fits your needs.

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