REDUCE ANXIETY: Research tells us getting more deep sleep can help reduce anxiety.
REDUCE ANXIETY: Research tells us getting more deep sleep can help reduce anxiety. gpointstudio

Sleeping deep to reduce anxiety

EXPERIENCING anxiety because you have missed out on a good night's rest isn't anything new, but researchers can now explain how it can be reduced.

The new study, published in Nature Human Behaviour, looked at what phase of a person's sleep pattern can help reduce anxiety. It established a casual neural link between sleep and anxiety. 

Scientists from UC Berkeley identified the importance of the sleep phase NREM, or non-rapid eye movement and its ability to ease an overactive brain.

It's the deepest stage of a person's sleep and it restores the brain's prefrontal mechanism which regulates our emotions.

"Of societal relevance, we establish that even modest night-to-night reductions in sleep across the population predict consequential day-to-day increases in anxiety," the study reported.

"These findings help contribute to an emerging framework explaining the intimate link between sleep and anxiety and further highlight the prospect of non-rapid eye movement sleep as a therapeutic target for meaningfully reducing anxiety."

Sleep has two main phases - rapid eye movement (REM) and NREM.

When you are in REM sleep your eyes move rapidly, your blood pressure and heart rate go up, and your brain becomes very active.

REM sleep is when most dreaming happens. It's thought to be important for learning and creating new memories.

When you are in NREM sleep, you go through four stages.

In stage one you are in transition between being awake and asleep, and you wake easily. In stages two, three and four your eye movements stop, your body temperature falls, and you are deeply asleep.

Adults usually spend about one-fifth of the night in REM sleep and the remaining four-fifths in NREM sleep.

It appears the non-medicated remedy to reducing anxiety is getting a better quality of sleep every night, particularly NREM, to help with your mental health.

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