Sleep deprivation and anxiety are more related than you might think. This is one of several reasons that on June 20, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force announced that an anxiety screening is now recommended for all adults. Chronic anxiety can trigger other mental health issues or exacerbate physiological symptoms of current health concerns. This is particularly troublesome for women and people of color — two populations that recent studies have shown are in the middle of the rest gap. Consider the following stats:
- According to The Sleep Foundation, most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep each night in order to function at their best, but women tend to get worse sleep compared to men due to more sleep fragmentation and lower quality sleep. Women are also 40% more likely to be diagnosed with insomnia.
- The National Health Interview Survey found that Black adults were almost twice as likely to sleep less than seven hours per night, compared to white adults.
- An article in The Atlantic explained how ideally most of us should spend 20% of the night in slow-wave sleep — the most restorative period of rest. However, Black people tend to spend only 15% of their sleep time in this state.
Occasionally, we get less sleep than our bodies technically need. But poor sleep quality long-term can drastically impair our capacity to achieve other wellness goals. Cedars-Sinai Medical Center affirms that sleep deprivation can lead to drowsiness, difficulty concentrating, memory problems and a weakened immune system. Plus, this might only be the beginning if such sleeping patterns persist – mood swings, depression, heart disease and strokes all become more likely when a deficiency in sleep is your norm.
If anxious thoughts, traumatic memories or irrational fears are keeping you up at night, try journaling before bed. You may also want to connect with a licensed mental health provider for additional tools and support. Jeanette Lorandini, LCSW offers the following advice in terms of exploring potential counseling options:
- “Many people are nervous about the costs of therapy. If you have mental health coverage insurance, start with your insurance provider’s portal,” she advises. “If you don’t, use (online) therapy databases like Psychology Today to locate therapists near you. Many therapy practices offer sliding scale fees. Always ask!”
- “Virtual therapy may work for you if you have a quiet space at home where you feel safe to talk freely,” Lorandini states. “Virtual might also be the best fit if you live in a remote area or have challenging caretaking schedules.”
Also, don’t forget about the myriad of resources available on TOPS.org and from the TOPS community as a whole. If you’ve personally struggled with or have previously overcome unhealthy sleeping patterns, feel free to share that experience as a comment below.
I’ll be back in August with a member request — Recipes for a Type 2 Diabetes-Friendly Diet!
Keep welcoming well-being into your days through intentional actions this month.