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How Sleep Deprivation Can Lead to Intrusive or Unwanted Thoughts

August 15, 2022

Filed under: Uncategorized — tntadmin @ 7:15 pm
nervous woman looking at cellphone

Sleep deprivation can be caused by a number of things, from something temporary like stress at work all the way to a chronic condition like sleep apnea. People with sleep apnea are missing out on crucial rest every night due to an obstruction in the airway that causes the sufferer to repeatedly wake to resume breathing. 

Aside from making it difficult to function properly the next day, chronic exhaustion from sleep apnea and other factors can cause or worsen mental health issues – including intrusive or unwanted thoughts. Keep reading to learn why, and what you can do to regain your restful sleep each and every night.

What Are Intrusive Thoughts?

Intrusive or unwanted thoughts are what they sound like – pictures or ideas of unpleasant or even horrific occurrences that enter into your head without you wanting them to. For example, a person dealing with intrusive thoughts may imagine getting into a car accident when they are driving down the road. 

This phenomenon happens to everyone from time to time, but in some people, the intrusive thoughts are so frequent and persistent that they can become a serious problem. 

The Link Between Loss of Sleep and Intrusive Thoughts

In 2020, researchers at the University of York looked at the ability of well rested and sleep deprived people to suppress intrusive thoughts. 

60 participants were asked to view negative and neutral images one day. Then, after a night of sleep or sleep deprivation, the same people were asked to view the faces of the people in the negative scenes and not imagine their pairing. 

The results confirmed that people who had not slept the night before were significantly less likely to be able to suppress the negative image from the previous day, underscoring the relationship between good sleep and overall mental health. 

Are You Suffering From Sleep Loss Due to Sleep Apnea?

If you are dealing with intrusive thoughts combined with sleep loss, it’s time to evaluate why you are not getting the full night’s rest that you need and deserve. 

Symptoms of sleep apnea include:

  • Loud, chronic snoring
  • Frequent waking throughout the night, often waking with a gasp
  • Nightmares
  • Daytime grogginess
  • Dry mouth

If you believe you are dealing with sleep apnea, don’t wait to seek diagnosis and treatment. Doing so is an important step in caring for your mental health! 

Meet the Sleep Dentist

Dr. Bernard L. Greenbaum is a diplomate of the American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine and offers sleep apnea and snoring treatment with options including SomnoDent, TAP and other appliances. He is passionate about helping neighbors in and around Bethesda find relief in a full night’s sleep. To learn more about sleep apnea or to schedule a consultation, contact his office at (301) 530-3600. 

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