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Problems Sleeping Linked to Depression and Anxiety

New research from Binghampton University shows that getting less than the recommended eight hours of sleep a night could be to blame for intrusive, repetitive thoughts that are common in those suffering from anxiety and depression. Researchers report that disruptions in sleep make it more difficult for an individual to shift attention away from negative thoughts and information. This means that interrupted or insufficient sleep could be to blame for those with anxiety and depression who struggle with intrusive negative thoughts.

By studying participants with moderate to high levels of repetitive negative thoughts, researchers were able to track their reactions to different images that typically elicit an emotional response. The results of the exercise showed that those who had regular sleep interruptions had more trouble shifting their attention away from the negative thoughts. The team believes this could be an indicator that trouble sleeping could play a role in depression and anxiety patients' inability to work through intrusive thoughts.

Trouble Sleeping Is More Common Than Many Realize

There are more than 70 types of sleep disorders, said David Buck, DDS, of Balance Epigenetic Orthodontics in Lynnwood, Washington.

"The most common are insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea," he said. "Obstructive sleep apnea is also the most common form of sleep apnea, and over 3 million people a year are diagnosed with this sleep disorder in the United States alone."

Obstructive sleep apnea causes pauses in breathing many times throughout the night. Snoring, snorting and gasping for breath are the most obvious signs of the sleep disorder, but for many people, especially those who sleep alone, symptoms may not be noticed.

Daytime drowsiness is one of the most dangerous and common signs that a sleeping disorder may be present. In one study from the American Sleep Association, almost 40 percent of respondents admitted to unintentionally falling asleep during the day.

When it comes to who is affected most by sleep deprivation, 40 percent of adults aged 40 to 59 report short sleep durations compared to 37 percent of 20- to 39-year-olds.

Trouble Sleeping Has Physical and Psychological Consequences  

According to Harvard Health, of all the patients in a typical psychiatric practice, between 50 and 80 percent suffer from chronic sleep problems. On the other hand, 10 to 18 percent of American adults in the general population have chronic sleep problems. In the past, these sleep problems were seen almost exclusively as a symptom of the patient’s psychiatric disorders, but now research has shown that for some it’s the opposite. Studies have shown that sleep disorders increase the risk for psychiatric disorders.

"Not only are psychiatric patients more at risk to suffer from sleep disorder such as obstructive sleep apnea, but sleep deprivation is also often responsible for more severe symptoms of psychiatric disorders like anxiety, depression and many others," said Buck.

 

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