Anxiety, depression and general stress can all effect one's sleep however the way it impacts the sleep will be different.
- With Anxiety (worrying), most commonly one will have sleep onset insomnia with poor quality sleep and may wake frequently through the night. Additional difficulty in ability to return to sleep. The part of the brain that is involved is the limbic system (non-conscious emotional centers) ...amygdala and new research suggests a part of the brain called the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis.
- With Depression, sleep onset is generally not the problem but early awakening and inability to maintain sleep longer than 4 hours. Depression is considered present when one has significantly decreased interest in doing daily activities and or a feeling of being down or depressed. It is believed to significantly affect over 9.5 % of the general population. Key factors are a feeling of not being able to control ones internal and or external environment.
Physiological causes of sleep disturbances are many and will often require a team approach. One should not discount psychotherapy (cognitive behavioral therapy). There are many self help techniques from simple things as: taking three deep relaxing breathes after lying down in bed, avoid watching disturbing TV / news before sleep, clearing ones mental thoughts either by writing down on a piece of paper at bedside of what you need to remember to do tomorrow or simple instruct your mind to let go of all active thoughts before going to sleep. You cannot control your subconscious directly but you can at least put in a request too. Medication can be used as a last resort. If you suspect sleep apnea, consult physician whom is familiar with diagnosing and treating this condition.
Therapeutic advances are many and often require a team approach.
- Melatonin can be helpful. It should be taken 15 minutes before sleep and taken as a liquid or tablet under the tongue. More is not better. A second dose should not be taken for another 4 hours.
- Low dose Calcium / magnesium taken at bedtime can help relax the muscles. Excessive magnesium often is the cause of mineral imbalance(s).
- A simple carbohydate snack before bedtime can increase serotonin neurotransmitter levels in the brain and facilitate sleep
- Herbs and flower essences
And of course nothing can substitute for a good neurological tune up from Dr. Corwin!
To learn more about the physiology and nutrition of sleep, follow this Link and listen to an extended video lecture by my colleague