Sleep is one of the most important factors for normal brain function as well as regular brain development. Studies conducted on the human brain that is deprived of sleep have shown that brain activity is altered if a person spends the night awake.
Additionally, people that already suffer from anxiety usually have issues sleeping to begin with. This new study just proved that the reverse is also true. There is a two-way interaction between these two occurrences. If a person suffers from anxiety, they sleep less. As they sleep less their anxiety worsens. This is a lose-lose situation for the person enduring it.
Researchers studied how people handle anxiety after a normal night of sleep and during a night of sleep deprivation. After each of those nights, people took anxiety tests. What the tests showed is that people’s anxiety rises by 30 percent when they do not sleep the night before testing. What is even scarier is that some anxiety scores were similar to those when people suffer from anxiety disorders.
Add to that the fact that peoples brain activity changed during nights of sleep deprivation. Their response to the emotional videos seemed to change, as those parts of the brain became more active. On the other hand, the prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain responsible for handling anxiety seemed to function at a lower level than usual. MRI scans showed a lower level of activity in the brain overall.
The study concluded that sleep might not be only responsible for increasing the symptoms of anxiety but might actually be one of the reasons it develops in the first place.