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Don’t Let Those Thoughts Keep You Awake at Night…

We are all anxious about something or the other from time to time. Our tendency to perceive a situation as threatening has been ingrained in us since the time of our hunter-gatherer ancestors. But the threats they faced and we face are extremely different; yet we are plagued by our thoughts about the past and fears for the future. These persistent negative thoughts can lead to the development of anxiety and related disorders. Unfortunately, anxious thoughts also have a toxic relationship with our sleep cycles—sometimes they keep us awake at night, other times they give us frightening nightmares.

Sleep and anxiety

An average adult requires 7 to 9 hours of undisturbed sleep to function properly throughout the day. This sleep includes a combination of NREM and REM sleep.

Apart from racing thoughts, with anxiety comes a variety of physiological responses such as increased heart rate, shortness of breath, and muscle tension amongst things—all of which make it difficult for your body and mind to relax at the end of the day. Without proper rest we feel fatigued, have a bad mood, and our cognitive capacities such as attention, concentration, decision making, etc. are also impaired. This makes us unable to work properly the next day which may lead to more worry and tension.

Anxious people also tend to wake up from sleep abruptly and frequently at night due to mental stress, which in turn leads to sleep deprivation, anticipatory anxiety, and insomnia.

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