Study Shows Deep Sleep Is One of the Best Remedies for Anxiety
If you're someone who trades sleep to get more done in a day, then you're going about it all wrong. A new study shows that deep sleep can actually rewire the anxious brain.
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Researchers from the University of California, Berkeley have found that a specific type of sleep calms and resets the brain during non-rapid eye movement (NREM) slow-wave sleep. The experiments were conducted using functional MRI and polysomnography with 48 participants as well as an online study involving 280 people.
"We have identified a new function of deep sleep, one that decreases anxiety overnight by reorganizing connections in the brain," said the study's senior author Matthew Walker, a UC Berkeley professor of neuroscience and psychology. "Deep sleep seems to be a natural anxiolytic (anxiety inhibitor), so long as we get it each and every night."
The published findings have also pointed to sleep as a "natural, non-pharmaceutical remedy" for anxiety. In comparison, having a sleepless night can trigger a 30 percent rise in anxiety levels.
"Without sleep, it's almost as if the brain is too heavy on the emotional accelerator pedal, without enough brake," said Walker.
NREM sleep happens sporadically throughout the night which means there's no trick to doing it. Really, all you need to do is focus on sleeping at night.