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There can be a number of things that contribute to your anxiety. Frequently, a predisposition to anxiety is encoded in your genes. Medicine and therapy can definitely help. Recent studies show that sleep deprivation plays a negative role in emotional processing. The ability to manage your emotions in a healthy way is absolutely essential to keeping anxiety at bay. So if too little snoozing is a constant factor in your life, it would seem that getting more sleep can help.

Let’s take a look at the ways sleep can affect your body and mood. Then I’ll offer some suggestions to improve your chances of returning to a regular sleep pattern.

The portion of your brain that is responsible for protecting you in times of danger is called the amygdala. It communicates perceived threats to the prefrontal cortex, which then determines whether flight or fight is necessary.

These two portions of the brain usually work pretty well together. However, under a period of distress, such as those stimulated by lack of sleep, their signals can get crossed. This causes the emotional centers of the brain to take over, leading to difficulty in concentration, increased irritation, slower reflexes, and higher anxiety levels.

You’ve probably heard of REM sleep. During these cycles, the parts of the brain that handle learning are engaged. Three to five REM cycles are average, and science has shown that more is better for improved mood. If you’re not sleeping, you’re definitely not going into these much-needed REM stages. Not only is the amount of sleep you get important. The quality is also essential to strong mental health.

There are some habits you can pick up that can contribute to easier sleep and less insomnia if these are issues for you. Avoid exercise before bed, as this can stimulate you. Instead, shoot for five or six hours beforehand. Sessions of 20 to 30 minutes of exercise each day can help. Also, the timing of your meals can contribute to a smoother time sleeping. Try not to eat three hours before bed. Spread out your meals and snacks throughout the day to avoid intense hunger pangs or spikes in blood sugar. These habits should help ease you into slumber when bedtime arrives. Caffeine and alcohol can rob you of your rest, so avoid them as much as possible.

Set up your surroundings in a way that is soothing. Make your bedroom your nighttime sanctuary. Light candles for ambiance, play soft music and add a scent like lavender that’s known for its calming properties. Be sure your routine before sleep isn’t stimulating, so lay off the electronics about a half hour ahead of time. If you simply can’t sleep once you lie down, get up and read or drink some tea. Tossing and turning just leads to more anxiety.

Peaceful slumber is always good for your body, mind, and soul. So give these suggestions a try if you’re experiencing high levels of anxiety. Better sleep can definitely help.

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