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If you're worried about your job, your love life (or lack of it), or anything else in life, you may not need a pill or even the latest meditation craze – you may just need a good night's sleep.
This is the result of a study by UC Berkeley, which was published in the journal Nature Human Behavior (https://www.nature.com/nathumbehav/) and found that sleepless nights can trigger an increase in anxiety levels of 30 percent. On the other hand, a good night's sleep could reverse anxiety symptoms by essentially rewiring the brain.
"Our study suggests that insufficient sleep increases anxiety and, conversely, helps reduce this stress," said study leader Eti Ben Simon, postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Human Sleep Science at UC Berkeley, in a statement on the school's website ,
For the study, 18 young adults had their brains scanned using MRI and other methods while watching "emotionally moving video clips" after a full night's sleep and again after a restless night. The fear level for each session was measured using a questionnaire.
The medial prefrontal cortex of the brain, the part of the brain that keeps the fear in check, was shut down after a sleepless night, causing more fear for the participants.
If the participants had slept well at night, they were less afraid. In particular, the lower anxiety levels were observed when participants had non-rapid sleep with slow eye movements for several hours, also known as deep sleep – a condition in which brain functions are strongly synchronized and heart rates decrease.
The study was rebuilt at least twice, with similar results found both times.
Here are some tips from the study's authors to try to get a perfect night's sleep and reduce your anxiety levels to near zero:
Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even after a bad night or on the weekend. Keep your bedroom temperature cool; Approximately 65 degrees Fahrenheit are ideal for cooling your body towards sleep. Wear socks when your feet are cold. Turn off the lights an hour before bed and turn off all electronic screens and devices. Blackout curtains are helpful. If you can't sleep, get up and do something calm and relaxing until the urge to sleep returns. Then go back to bed. Avoid caffeine after 1 p.m. and never go to bed tipsy. Alcohol is a sedative and sedative is not sleep. It also blocks your REM dream sleep, an important part of the sleep cycle.