The bad news comes from the University of California which has shown that sleep disruption is a recognised feature of all anxiety disorders, and that a sleepless night amplifies anxiety levels by up to 30 per cent.
The good news is that the researchers also found that deep sleep – known as non-rapid eye movement (NREM) slow-wave sleep – decreases anxiety by reorganising connections in the brain.
“Without sleep, it’s almost as if the brain is too heavy on the emotional accelerator pedal, without enough brake,” said senior author Matthew Walker, a UC Berkeley professor of neuroscience and psychology.
“Deep sleep seems to be a natural [anxiety inhibitor], so long as we get it each and every night.”
So how can you get more deep sleep?
A study by the University of Colorado suggests that a daily dose of prebiotics – dietary fibres found naturally in foods like artichokes, raw garlic, leeks and onion – can improve sleep.
“We found that dietary prebiotics can improve non-REM sleep, as well as REM sleep after a stressful event,” said Robert Thompson, a post-doctoral researcher in the Department of Integrative Physiology.