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article imageTightly wired and stressed? Deep sleep is the answer, new study

By Tim Sandle     Nov 8, 2019 in Health
For those who are often anxious or stressed the answer to reducing some of the manifestations is with deep-sleep, according to a new scientific study. Research shows good sleep can rewire the anxious brain.
As well as a good night's sleep being beneficial, the research also shows the reverse - a sleepless night can trigger up to a 30 percent rise in emotional stress levels. The study, from University of California - Berkeley, further finds that the type of sleep most appropriate to reign in the anxious brain is 'deep sleep' (or non-rapid eye movement slow-wave sleep). In this state of sleep, neural oscillations become tightly synchronized. In addition, the body's heart rates and blood pressure reduce.
According to principal scientist Dr. Matthew Walker: "We have identified a new function of deep sleep, one that decreases anxiety overnight by reorganizing connections in the brain."
The academic adds: "Deep sleep seems to be a natural anxiolytic (anxiety inhibitor), so long as we get it each and every night."
These findings were drawn from several experiments undertaken with functional magnetic resonance imaging and polysomnography (which records your brain waves, the oxygen level in your blood, heart rate and breathing, as well as eye and leg movements). Using these technologies, the scientists scanned the brains of eighteen young adults as they watched emotionally stirring video clips after a full night of sleep. The exercise was repeated again after the subjects experienced a sleepless night.
With both sets of experiments, anxiety levels were assessed using a questionnaire (a state-trait anxiety inventory which measures state anxiety, or anxiety about an event, and trait anxiety, or anxiety level as a personal characteristic).
The measurements taken showed that following a night of lack of sleep, brain scans indicated a shutdown of the medial prefrontal cortex. This typiclaly assist with keep a person's anxiety in check, while the brain's deeper emotional centers were overactive.
From the analysis, recommendations as to the type of deep sleep needed to calm the overanxious brain have been made and these should be Incorporated into new treatment regimes.
The research has been published in the journal Nature Human Behaviour and the study is concisely headed "Overanxious and underslept."
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