Sleep Apnea And Anxiety
Our modern life is full of stress and anxiety is a natural way by which our body deals with stress. However, when the anxiety becomes uncontrolled, then problems occur and it can prevent you from living your life normally. Inadequate sleep and good rest can be caused because of overwhelming worry, stress and anxiety.
Sleep apnea is essentially when your regular breathing stops briefly and restarts repeatedly when you sleep. This causes the airflow to become unbalanced and the other body processes become impaired.
When you have an episode of sleep apnea, a panic signal is sent to the brain to awaken your body so that it can resume breathing.
When this occurs several times during the night, it prevents you from getting uninterrupted, restful sleep. This repeated interruption of sleep, results in sleep debt, causing your brain to struggle when coping with stress and anxiety.
And, when you have several nights of bad sleep, this causes the neurochemicals in the brain to change and this, in turn, alters your thinking pattern and mood.
The effect of this cumulative sleep deprivation makes it very hard for your brain to deal with the stress, which is additional to the stress that the body feels because it is not getting the restful and restorative sleep it requires.
This affects your blood pressure, heart health, the bodys ability to recover and heal and also causes several physiological problems.
What Are The Effects Of Sleep Apnea
If left untreated, sleep apnea can result in a number of health problems including hypertension, stroke, arrhythmias, cardiomyopathy , heart failure, diabetes, obesity and heart attacks.
Its likely that sleep apnea can cause arrhythmias and heart failure because if you have sleep apnea, you tend to have higher blood pressure. In fact, sleep apnea occurs in about 50% of people with heart failure or atrial fibrillation.
This is because sleep apnea can cause:
- Repeated episodes of oxygen lowering .
- Changes in carbon dioxide levels.
- Direct effects on the heart due to pressure changes within the chest.
- Increased levels of markers of inflammation.
With the high prevalence of sleep apnea in cardiac arrhythmias and heart failure , experts recommend that you dont delay in seeking the advice of your physician.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 03/03/2020.
Sleep Apnea: Nature Of The Disorder
Sleep apnea is a potentially life-threatening sleep disease in which breathing stops and begins repeatedly. Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common form of sleep apnea. It occurs when throat muscles relax due to blockage in the upper airway. Another kind, central sleep apnea , is caused by a signal problem in the nervous system. If the signal does not reach or the airway gets blocked, the person will stop breathing. Such a condition may happen once in a while during sleep but tends to recur again and again. They may snort, take a deep breath, or feel as though they are gasping, smothering, or choking. The symptoms of obstructive and central sleep apneas include :
- Loud snoring
- Episodes in which you stop breathing while sleeping
- Gasping for oxygen while sleeping
- Waking up with a dry mouth
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The Connection Between Sleep Apnea And Stress
Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that causes you to stop then restart breathing at night frequently. This can occur as many as a hundred times or more as you sleep.
The worst part? You can do this while youre sleeping and not even know it. It is often due to the partial blocking of your airway, which obstructs the airflow.
Every break alerts your brain to send a signal that interferes with your sleep. When breathing resumes, youll usually sleep again. Every time your breathing starts back up, the cycle only repeats itself over again.
Any stressors are associated with worsening sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea and stress may be linked when it comes to your health.
How well you sleep is affected by how healthy you are. Stress affects various aspects of your emotional, mental, and physical health, including sleep.
Further, stress can make you develop unhealthy habits. This includes things like overeating, smoking, drinking, consuming excess caffeine, and not exercising.
All of these habits can intensify sleep apnea. Lockdown situations, the disruption of your daily routines, and reduced social support systems because of social distancing have led to severe problems.
This includes reduced sunlight exposure, more screen time, and less physical activity. Taking part in more of these activities can contribute to lower sleep quality and intensifying your sleep apnea.
Sleep Apnea And Anxiety: Whats The Link
Anxiety by itself is a natural way your body deals with stress and alerts you of potential danger. However, problems arise when anxiety becomes overwhelming and prevents you from living a normal life. Uncontrolled feelings of stress and worry can sometimes result from an inadequate amount of sleep.
âSleep apnea can cause anxiety and make it worse,â Aniko Dunn, Psy.D and psychologist at EZ Care Clinic, tells WebMD Connect to Care.
One reason for this is that âthe chemical reactions that come with a lack of sleep can make you feel depressed and nervous,â Dunn explains.
Another reason is tied to sleep stages. An important stage of sleep is the âdeep sleepâ stage, where your brain waves slow down. This stage is also when your body starts repairing tissues, boosting your immune system, and storing up energy for the next day. Not reaching this âdeep sleepâ stage, or being interrupted during it, as occurs with sleep apnea, prevents your body and mind from operating normally.
A 2016 systematic review and meta-analysis published by Sleep Medicine found that sleep deprivation can create significant spikes in state anxiety levels. The American Psychological Association defines state anxiety as anxiety that arises in response to a specific threat or danger. And the research shows that these spikes occur in response to both total and partial loss of sleep.
Whether your anxiety was caused or made worse by sleep apnea, the two can be dangerous if not treated.
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What Is Anxiety What Are Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety is a feeling of worry and unease. Its normal to experience anxiety occasionally in response to fearful or stressful situations.
In anxiety disorders, this distress becomes excessive. Fears are not proportional to the situation, and worrying interferes with everyday life. These feelings become persistent, occurring most days for a period of six months or more.
How Does Stress Affect Sleep
Insomnia is a common sleep disorder derived from stress. Insomnia is defined as persistent difficulty with sleep onset, maintenance, consolidation, or overall quality. It occurs despite adequate time allotted for sleep on a given night and a comfortable place to sleep, and people with insomnia experience excessive daytime sleepiness, fatigue, irritability and other impairments when they are awake. Current estimates suggest 10-30% of adults live with insomnia.
- Problems or dissatisfaction at work
- Divorce and other marital or family difficulties
- The death of a loved one
- Major illness or injury
- Crucial life changes
Not everyone develops chronic insomnia due to constant stress, but those with anxiety disorder are at higher risk of experiencing insomnia symptoms. Additionally, changes to ones sleep schedule that occur due to life events or changes can also lead to insomnia. Once chronic insomnia takes hold, people often feel anxious about sleeping and other aspects of their lives. This increases day-to-day stress, which in turn exacerbates insomnia symptoms.
Other daytime impairments related to insomnia that can bring about or contribute to stress include:
If someone experiences insomnia symptoms for fewer than three months, then this condition is referred to as short-term insomnia. Just as chronic stress can precipitate chronic insomnia, acute stressors can bring about short-term insomnia symptoms. These stressors may include:
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Sleep Apnea And Insulin Resistance
Because of the association between inflammation and insulin resistance, a condition of increased insulin levels associated with normoglycemia , we examined whether OSA acts as an independent risk factor for insulin resistance. We evaluated 14 obese men with symptomatic sleep apnea versus 11 BMI- and age-matched, obese, non-apneic controls . Mean fasting blood glucose levels were higher in the apneics than in obese controls . Mean plasma insulin levels were also higher in sleep apneics than in obese controls .
Our findings were confirmed by three relatively large studies: 1) a sleep center population in Hong Kong 2) a community-based sample in the Baltimore area and 3) most recently, in a large sample from the Sleep Heart Health Study . Importantly, one study observed that the association between OSA and insulin resistance was present even in non obese subjects , whereas the other study reported insulin resistance even in mild forms of sleep apnea .
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Treatment Options For Sleep Apnea And Anxiety
Since anxiety and sleep apnea aggravate each other, the best way to break their endless cycle is by treating both, but addressing sleep apnea first. Once a patient starts sleeping better at night, it can reduce their anxiety. If their anxiety is severe to begin with, it might make the most sense to treat the anxiety at the same time and then reduce the anxiety treatment after the sleep apnea treatment begins working.
To treat your sleep apnea, you can start by visiting the Advanced Dental Sleep Treatment Center in Omaha for a sleep apnea evaluation. If you havent been diagnosed yet, we can coodinate a diagnostic sleep test for you. Once you have a proper diagnosis, we can help you choose the right oral appliance to treat your sleep apnea. With sleep apnea treatment and anxiety treatment working side by side, youre bound to feel much better soon.
Call us at today to schedule a sleep apnea new patient appointment with one of our sleep dentists at Advanced Dental Sleep Treatment Center. We look forward to helping you sleep better and experience less anxiety.
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What Does Anxiety Feel Like
The symptoms of anxiety disorders can affect people both emotionally and physically.
People with anxiety may feel extremely nervous and on-edge. This can affect their concentration and mood, leading to irritability and restlessness. Their fear or sense of impending doom can feel overwhelming and out-of-control.
Physically, anxiety disorders can provoke tense muscles, rapid breathing and heartbeat, sweating, trembling, gastrointestinal distress, and fatigue.
Many people with anxiety disorders attempt to avoid situations that could trigger heightened worry however, this does not resolve their underlying fear and can interrupt both professional and personal activities. Over time, a person with anxiety disorder may get used to being worried such that a state of distress or fear seems normal.
Anxiety disorders can occur alongside other mental health problems like depression. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America , nearly 50% of people with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.
Ways To Reduce Anxiety And Stress Levels
If youve been dealing with heightened anxiety or stress, thankfully, there are some ways to mitigate the problem. Here are some helpful tips you can easily implement:
- Meditate There is no specific method that you have to learn for meditating. It simply involves being quiet and still. The activity, when done consistently, can have a lasting, calming effect.
- Seek Counseling If your anxiety or stress starts to become chronic and leads to depression, then it may be best to seek counseling from a trained professional.
- New Exercise Regimen When you exercise on a regular basis, it contributes to the healthy release of endorphins, dopamine and other key hormones, that have relaxing and anti-inflammatory properties that also help you rest better at night.
- Take a Relaxing Bath Before Bed A helpful way to encourage your mind and body to relax before bed is to take a soothing and calming bath. To further boost the benefits, you can add lavender essential oil, which helps to stimulate the natural production of the nighttime hormone, melatonin.
- Power-off Your Electronic Devices At least 30 minutes before you retire for bed, you should discontinue the usage of any electronic devices. This will help you unwind and prepare to release the stresses of the day as you drift to sleep.
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Does Stress Cause Sleep Apnea
- ENT Institute
Does stress cause sleep apnea? Short answer is yes. Long answer is yes. But as most things in this universe tend to be, its a tad bit more complex than just answering the question so simply. Stress, anxiety, and depression arent just topics to have short answers for, especially when it affects our physical health. Its known that anxiety can actually cause chest pain, breathing problems, and even dizziness. Thats quite an effect on our health. With that in mind, sleep is also an important part of our overall health, which means that if were not sleeping then our health declines greatly.
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America says, Stress and anxiety may cause sleeping problems or make existing problems worse. And having an anxiety disorder exacerbates the problem. . Essentially, any psychological issue like anxiety or depression will indeed cause or make sleeping problems worse. Its like a vicious cycle of no sleep due to stress and stress due to no sleep and then no sleep due to stress. The ADAA goes on to say this: Research also shows that some form of sleep disruption is present in nearly all psychiatric disorders. Studies also show that people with chronic insomnia are at high risk of developing an anxiety disorder.
This brings us to the first questions:
Does Anxiety Cause Central Sleep Apnea
Another type of sleep apnea, caused by your brain not communicating with your body about breathing while you sleep, causes your body to forget to breathe for 10 seconds or more at a time while you sleep.
Central sleep apnea occurs because your brain doesnt send proper signals to the muscles that control your breathing.Central sleep apnea can result from other conditions, such as heart failure and stroke. Another possible cause is sleeping at a high altitude.
Because central sleep apnea involves issues with the central nervous system, the same physical issues causing your anxiety could also cause your central sleep apnea.
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Sleep Apnea And Nocturnal Panic Attacks
Can sleep apnea cause nocturnal panic attacks?
A clinical study revealed that sleep apnea can cause nocturnal panic attacks. Clinicians also encountered parasomnias, delirium, personality change and violent outbursts in some OSA patients.
Many sleep apnea patients have dreams during a breathing pause while sleeping. Examples of dream experiences are:
- being choked by someone else during a play,
- being tied up or chained ,
- diving without oxygen tanks and gasping for breath .
For more info about dreams in patients with sleep apnea, please read Principles and Practice of Sleep Medicine.
Can Stress Cause Sleep Apnea
When left unchecked, stress can lead to endless health issues, from depression and anxiety to high blood pressure, heart attacks, and stroke. Today were going answer the question: Can stress cause sleep apnea?
Studies show stress levels could indeed influence your sleep quality too. Stress and sleep apnea still have a somewhat confusing relationship in the eyes of science. On the one hand, it seems clear stress does have some negative influence on sleeping patterns.
Exposure to excess stress can create changes in brain waves and prompt conditions which increase the likelihood of conditions like sleep apnea.
On the other hand, its difficult to define exactly what kinds of stress lead to sleep apnea, and whether other factors may lead to higher levels of risk. Sleep apnea and anxiety are closely linked, and treating one might alleviate the other.
So, can sleep apnea be caused by anxiety or stress? Lets find out
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How Does Sleep Relate To Mental Health
Theres a close relationship between sleep and mental health. Living with a mental health problem can affect how well you sleep, and poor sleep can have a negative impact on your mental health.
Poor sleep leads to worrying. Worrying leads to poor sleep. Worrying about sleep is like your mind trying to fight itself. Thats a horrible place to be.
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Tips And Tricks For Anxious Sleepers
Youve heard it before. It is the go-to phrase that health and wellness writers use time and time again, but it is also our best piece of advice. We dont claim to have all the answers, and were not in a position to know your body like you or your doctor does.
The bedroom should be a place conducive to rest. Nick Littlehales, a professional sleep coach and author of the book Sleep, indicates the only purpose of a bedroom should be for sleeping. He recommends sleepers have a dark and cool environment.
This can be achieved by using blackout curtains and keeping the air conditioner around 66 degrees at night. Littlehales strongly suggest removing a TV or computer from the bedroom as well as keeping your phone in another room and limiting the use of any blue light emitting devices to one hour before sleep.
Sleepers should also establish a routine that prepares them for sleep. Taking a bath or shower before bed can help the body relax and give you some time to yourself. Likewise, reading a book can help distract you from lifes worries.
Anxious types often have their minds racing before they sleep. A recent study shows that journaling can be a resourceful way of getting all your thoughts out and planning for the next day before your head hits the pillow.
It is best not to do anything that involves blue lights or is overly engaging. Just be sure not to relax too much while sitting on the sofa, its best if you still get to sleep in your bed.
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