Sleep, Anxiety & Depression
Sleep too little, or for too long, and we soon feel the effects. The right amount of sleep significantly reduces anxiety but stay in bed too long and the outcome can be counter-productive. Over-sleepers frequently feel stressed, out of condition and ironically – tired.
In order to function at our optimum most adults require around eight hours of sleep per night. We can function on less of course, but over time this can lead to dull thinking, irritable moods and depression.
As much as a regular sleep pattern can reduce anxiety, it is anxiety that is often the cause of disrupted sleep. It can make getting to sleep so much harder and early waking can be as much of a problem. Depressed people seem to be hardest hit when it comes to sleep. They particularly suffer from a lack of deep sleep, which is the most restorative. Some depressed people can sleep for hours but they feel tired and weary when they wake.
Although anxiety can be the cause of sleepless nights it doesn’t mean we have to accept it. The important thing is to get the biological clock back in sync and to do this it is worth considering one or more of the following:
Remain awake for 24 hours. This may seem counter-intuitive but it’s a way of jolting the biological clock back into sequence. If this seems too hard or impractical you could try moving bedtime five or six hours early and then gradually re-sync it to the normal time.
Less dramatic but effective strategies could involve avoiding all caffeine and alcohol. Caffeine is a stimulant and while alcohol can knock you out the tendency to wake early increases or the quality of sleep is poor. You might also consider a dedicated pattern of sleep time and waking. It may be tempting to watch TV into the early hours but if you fix times between say 11.00 pm and 7.00 am and stick to this for a number of days, you may be surprised how the pattern of regularity helps your sleep and therefore your mood.