Too often, we all have the same experience: a day filled with anxiety, depression and lack of focus, which always seem to go along with too little sleep. However, in our modern society, it seems that burning the candle at both ends is the only way to keep up! This is compounded by other factors, such as stress-induced insomnia and other sleep disorders keeping you from getting the kind of quality sleep you need.
Unfortunately, this not only hurts your work productivity and fills your day with the unpleasant sense of anxiety and depression that a lack of sleep can cause, it can also lead to worse, more dangerous health problems, such as stroke, heart attack and diabetes.
And, this is why getting deep, quality sleep is so highly important!
What is Anxiety?
Per Merriam Webster dictionary definition, anxiety is “apprehensive uneasiness or nervousness usually over an impending or anticipated ill: a state of being anxious,” which is, of course, something we have all experienced in our lives. (1)
However, when one’s adaptive response to stress is inadequate and anxiety becomes overwhelming to the point it just won’t go away, it becomes a disorder. This can be anything from obsessive-compulsive behavior to PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) and caused by anything from a perceived fear to a truly traumatizing experience.
And, a lack of sleep can also cause daily anxieties to become worsening disorders, as well as contribute to and compound the symptoms of depression. (2)
Sleep and Your Well-Being
Sleep is more than just a pleasant way to break from reality each night and it is in fact as important to your survival as is eating, drinking or breathing. Sleep is a time when restorative hormones are at work rebuilding and rejuvenating your mind and body, which is why you feel more alert and have fewer anxiety symptoms after a good night’s rest.
However, when you don’t get enough sleep, or the sleep you do get is of low quality, it leads to poor concentration, irritability, depression and worsening anxieties. This is something which even limited sleep deprivation can cause, and it is also a two-way street, in that depression and anxiety can cause sleep disorders, while sleep disorders can cause depression and anxiety.
For instance, during times of heavy stress, your body produces “fight or flight” hormones which are meant to keep you alert and energized in the face of danger. Hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine, for instance, give you a heightened awareness and rapid heartbeat when you are startled, afraid, or under stress.
Of course, another effect of your body continuously being flooded with stress hormones is that they cause poor sleep and insomnia. And, when you don’t sleep well, your body and mind don’t rejuvenate well, which leads to worsening depression and anxiety, which are likely to cause worsening sleep problems. (3, 4)
Sleep and Depression
Another important factor in the association of sleep and your well-being is how sleep affects depression, and vice-versa.
For instance, sleep disruption—either hyposomnia or hypersomnia—are both indications of the onset of depression. In fact, studies show that insomnia can be a risk factor for depression, and around three-quarters of depressed patients experience insomnia.
Alternately, hypersomnia is present in around 40% of young patients, and 10% of older patients, which indicates there being no one common sleep reaction in those who are depressed.
So far as how depression affects the depressed mind and its ability to sleep, it should be noted that while the brain’s slow wave activity (SWA) is a marker of the drive to sleep, and the total amount of slow wave sleep (SWS) is usually decreased in those who are depressed. (5)
This may also be why depressed patients also show changes in nocturnal hormone secretion, such as the decreased release of growth hormone due to less SWA. This also includes such sleep-regulating hormones as growth hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH), which promotes sleep, and corticotrophin-releasing hormone (CRH), which promotes wakefulness. (6)
Another important factor of note in the relationship of depression and sleep disorders is the effects which many antidepressants have on sleep and sleep quality. For instance, norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitors, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, and serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors all have rates of sleep disruption and insomnia rates which are 1.5-3 times higher than that of a placebo. This is in addition to a number of studies which have shown depression treatments such as monoamine oxidase inhibitors, tricyclic antidepressants electroconvulsive therapy, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, all have a negative effect on REM sleep.(7)
Not only can these effects worsen symptoms of sleep disorders, they are but a few of the dangerous side effects common to conventional medical treatments.
Tips for Getting Sound Sleep Naturally
Even though many of us think we are getting a good night’s rest, there is often room for improvement. In fact, improving the quality of your sleep can also improve your work productivity, reduce your risk for accidents, and even help you manage your weight more easily.
Here are a few natural ways of improving your sleep which avoid the dangerous side effects of most over-the-counter or prescription sleep aids:
- Develop a sleep/wake schedule and stick to it—Your body’s internal clock works best when things are predictable, which is why adhering to a sleep/wake schedule is so important to quality sleep. By following your natural sleep cycles and avoiding measures to stay awake at night followed by an alarm to wake you, your sleep will be more natural, restful and fulfilling, and with less need for a morning alarm. However, this also includes weekends and holidays, so you need to get used to not staying up late followed by sleeping in during your time off.
- If you MUST have a nap during the day, make it a catnap—Occasionally, we all need a quick reset during the day, although you also need to avoid a full-on sleep session, since it can not only disrupt your sleep cycles, it can also leave you groggy and unproductive for the day. Instead, try dozing briefly with some music playing along with a soothing alarm set for perhaps 10-15 minutes, and the idea is for you to doze but not fully fall asleep. Or, you can try this: Have a half a cup of coffee or tea right before you lay down. The caffeine in it takes about 10-minutes to kick in, which will give you time to rest before it brings you to alertness. However, you also need to avoid caffeine too close to bedtime—and for that matter, even a catnap too late in the day can affect your sleep, so do this only as necessary, and with plenty of time to wind down naturally before bed. (8, 9)
- Practice good sleep hygiene—A bed chamber that is cool, free of dust and dander, and without any outside light is necessary for a quality night’s sleep. If your living environment is noisy, you may need to use earplugs or invest in a white noise app or other sound-deadening device.
- Use Hotze’s natural sleep supplements—Using natural supplements to help you relax and fall to sleep is another way to help improve the quality of your sleep:
Hotze’s Magnesium Citrate (magnesium’s most absorbable form) in 200mg vegetarian capsules can help your muscles relax and prevent you from waking in the night unable to get back to sleep.
Hotze’s 900mg Inositol Capsules—Inositol, AKA vitamin B8, has shown to reduce symptoms of hostility, depression and stress, which can help you avoid hyposomnia due to depression and anxiety.
Melatonin is a sleep hormone produced by your body in response to your natural circadian rhythms, although production of it can also be suppressed due to stress, depression and anxiety. However, Hotze’s SR (1mg) Melatonin Tablets are a safe and natural way increase your levels of this important hormone for a good night’s rest.
You can also use a sleep formula containing a variety of sleep aids to help you fall asleep, stay asleep, and wake well-rested. A good example is Hotze’s Sleep Formula which contains such natural sleep aids as L-tryptophan, valerian root, chamomile, melatonin and inositol, all of which combine to help you get the sound, restful sleep you need and deserve, and all in one convenient vegetarian capsule.
Improving the quality of your sleep is your best defense against anxiety symptoms and can also be an overlooked factor in depression treatment.
By adhering to a sleep schedule, practicing good sleep hygiene, being careful not to over-nap, and adding the right natural sleep aids to your regimen, you can wake less groggy, enjoy better quality sleep, and reduce your symptoms of depression and anxiety.