Less Than 8 Hours of Sleep a Night Linked to Depression and Anxiety
There are many reasons we don’t always get enough sleep. But one of the most frustrating is when our brain gets stuck on a negative thought or event…and just won’t let it go.
Not surprisingly, these types of repetitive, intrusive thoughts are common among individuals who sleep less than the recommended eight hours a night. Additionally, people who are prone to this phenomenon are also vulnerable to symptoms of anxiety and depression. This conclusion comes from a new study published in the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry.
In the analysis, researchers assessed the time and duration of sleep in 52 adults with moderate to high levels of negative thoughts. All of the participants were exposed to pairs of emotionally-evocative and neutral images while having their attention levels monitored via eye movements. Then, the research team monitored sleep duration among the subjects.
It turned out that when more time was spent looking at the emotionally negative images, negative thoughts became stuck in the participant’s heads. This made it harder for them to fall asleep, and they slept for a shorter amount of time.
According to study author Meredith Coles, these negative thoughts are believed to leave people vulnerable to different types of psychological disorders, such as anxiety or depression.
“We realized over time that this might be important — this repetitive negative thinking is relevant to several different disorders like anxiety, depression and many other things,” said Coles. “This is novel in that we’re exploring the overlap between sleep disruptions and the way they affect these basic processes that help in ignoring those obsessive negative thoughts.”
3 Nutrients to Help You Fall Asleep Faster and Sleep Longer
The study authors suggest that poor sleep may be part of what makes negative thoughts stick around and interfere with people’s lives. If this theory is correct, shifting to a healthier sleep cycle — going to bed at an earlier time and staying asleep all night long — may improve symptoms of anxiety and depression.
To reset your sleep cycle, it’s important to plan on going to bed at the same time every night, and get up at the same time each morning. If you find it hard to fall asleep — and stay asleep — certain supplements may be able to help you out.
- In particular, melatonin is critical for sleep, and it is the most studied natural remedy for insomnia. It helps establish your sleep cycle and signals to your body when it’s time to go to sleep, and when it’s time to wake up. Bright lights, tablets, smartphones and the television can all suppress melatonin production. To help reset your normal sleep pattern, it’s a good idea shut down the electronics and take 1 mg of melatonin about an hour prior to bedtime.
- If mental chatter is keeping you from sleep, try valerian root. It calms your mind by gently reducing brain activity so you can fall asleep more quickly. Combine it with hops to sleep longer, and more deeply.
- You can also calm your brain and reduce anxiety with gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA). This calming effect helps you fall asleep faster, and stay asleep longer.
Jacob A. Nota, Meredith E. Coles. Shorter sleep duration and longer sleep onset latency are related to difficulty disengaging attention from negative emotional images in individuals with elevated transdiagnostic repetitive negative thinking. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 2018; 58: 114-122.
Binghamton University. “People who sleep less than 8 hours a night more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety.” ScienceDaily. Jan 2018.
Dana Nicholas is a freelance writer and researcher in the field of natural and alternative healing. She has over 20 years of experience working with many noted health authors and anti-aging professionals, including James Balch, M.D., Dr. Linda Page, “Amazon” John Easterling and Al Sears M.D. Dana’s goal is to keep you up-to-date on information, news and breakthroughs that can have a direct impact on your health, your quality of life… and your lifespan. “I’m absolutely convinced that America’s misguided trust in mainstream medicine – including reliance on the government to regulate our food and medicine supply – is killing us, slowly but surely,” she cautions. “By sharing what I’ve learned throughout the years I hope I can empower others to take control over their own health.”