How To Get A Good Night Sleep When Stressed
Another sleepless night spent worrying as you stare at the ceiling? Stress and anxiety can often keep you from getting the sleep you need.
Many people with anxiety disorders have trouble sleeping and at some point its hard to tell whether youre having trouble sleeping because youre anxious, or youre anxious because you cant sleep. The answer may be both. The fact is that stress and anxiety can cause sleeping problems, or worsen existing ones. Too little sleep affects your mood and can contribute to irritability and sometimes depression. Vital brain functions occur during different stages of sleep that leave you feeling rested and energized and that help you learn and build memories.
Here are a few tips to help you practice good sleep hygiene so you can wind down both your body and mind:
Your Diet Might Need Adjusting
Since stress taxes the bodys energy resources harder and faster than normal, chronic stress, such as that caused by overly apprehensive behavior, can deplete the body of important nutrients . This is especially true if you arent eating properly or regularly enough to replenish these nutrients. Being deficient in important nutrients can cause episodes of low energy. A visit to your doctor or Nutritional Practitioner can help determine if you have a deficiency, and if so, what those deficiencies are.
Moreover, if you havent adjusted your eating patterns to accommodate the rapid energy consumption, you might become tired or exhausted as your body runs out of fuel. Physical fatigue can also affect our emotional health.
Not eating correctly to accommodate the extra demand for fuel and being deficient in certain nutrients can cause episodes of low energy and fatigue.
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You’re Always A Little Too Tired
Feeling sleepy after a long day is one thing. But if you’re totally and positively drained all the time, it could be due to the fact you’re on “high alert” and feeling anxious all the time. “That creates intense cortisol levels rushing through your body,” says clinical psychologist Gladys Frankel, Ph.D. It’s like your body is constantly asking, “Where is the danger?” And that can be exhausting.
How To Calm Anxiety And Get Better Sleep
Although the impacts of anxiety disorders can be substantial, they are one of the most treatable mental health disorders. This doesnt mean that reducing anxiety is always simple, but there are treatments that can help.
Any person who has persistent or significant anxiety and/or sleeping problems should talk with a doctor who can best assess their situation and discuss the benefits and downsides of the potential treatment options in their case.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is a common treatment for anxiety disorders. It is a type of talk therapy that works to reorient negative thinking, and it has had success in decreasing anxiety. Studies have found that CBT can often reduce anxiety even in people who have insomnia. Addressing anxiety can pave the way for better sleep, but severe cases of insomnia may persist after CBT for anxiety. CBT for insomnia may be a useful next step in these cases.
Several different types of medications are approved to treat anxiety disorders including anti-anxiety drugs, antidepressants, and beta-blockers. These medications are intended to mitigate symptoms rather than cure the underlying anxiety.
Because of the multifaceted relationship between anxiety and sleep, getting better rest may help combat feelings of anxiety. Building healthy sleep habits can make going to bed a more pleasant experience and facilitate a consistent routine to enhance sleep.
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How To Practice Focused Meditation
Here are six tips to help you practice focused meditation. Based on your availability and interest, these tips may change and evolve. Thats the point: to create a structured practice that caters to your needs.
1. Find a Comfortable Seat
As with any meditation practice, comfort is truly key. The physical body responds to meditation practice by alerting you to whether it is comfortable and supported or stressed out and in pain. This is best observed in practitioners who tend to slouch and lose the tall, supported spine that is essential to meditation practice.
A simple rule in meditative sitting is to ensure that your hips are higher than your knees. Therefore, choosing to sit in a chair instead of on the floor may be a smart decision or perhaps propping yourself up on a cushion. For meditation techniques overall, it does not matter how you sit. All that matters is that you are supported and comfortable sitting for some time.
2. Choose Your Object of Focus
Every meditation training session is going to be different because no single day is the same for any one person. Therefore, experienced meditators know that choosing an object is more about listening to what you need at this time versus following any doctrine or rule.
3. Set Your Desired Time or Go With the Flow
Likewise, if you have the time, you can also listen to your body and come out of your meditation when you feel its right to do so. This is often a beautiful practice of listening and tuning in.
Limit Caffeine And Other Stimulants
For many people, cutting out caffeine from their diet can be very difficult, but caffeine can greatly hamper your ability to fall asleep. Additionally, as a stimulant, caffeine can make your anxiety much more pronounced, and you may have a difficult time calming down if you drink excessive amounts of coffee.
It could also be getting in the way of you achieving a good nights sleep. Try avoiding caffeine at least four to five hours prior to when you want to go to bed.
If you know of any other forms of stimulants that you may be taking, try avoiding those at least a few hours before bedtime, as well.
Additionally, some recent studies, such as one conducted by Harvard Health, have come to find that blue light can keep the brain active, stimulated, and awake, as it suppresses the secretion of the hormone melatonin. This is the hormone responsible for helping you fall asleep, so try avoiding blue light, or wearing amber glasses to suppress the effects of the light, at least two hours prior to bedtime.
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Your Stomach’s Been Bothering You
Again, anxiety often goes hand in hand with physical symptoms, so don’t ignore any weird issues you might be experiencing. As Hershenson says, if you’re struggling with anxiety, “you likely will experience other symptoms such as stomach pain, migraines, shortness of breath, and heart palpitations.” So if your tiredness comes with a heaping helping of bellyaches, it might be your anxiety acting up.
Does Therapy Help Anxiety
Therapy can help reduce anxiety and provide you with tools to manage overwhelming thoughts. Cognitive behavioral therapy is the most common approach to treating anxiety, it focuses on altering the thought mechanisms behind the habits and behaviors that contribute to your anxiety while equipping you with coping strategies to reduce the overall impact of stress and worrying. Therapy can help you identify your anxiety and its triggers, as well as offer you constructive ways to cope with and reduce it. Those who receive therapy for anxiety are more likely to reduce their anxiety and lead a healthier life, compared to those who avoid treatment.
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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 Anxiety Affects Sleep
Sleep problems caused by anxiety arent limited to people with diagnosed anxiety disorders.
The spectrum ranges from everyday kind of problems that might make us anxious and affect sleep all the way to people diagnosed with anxiety disorders who are likely to have ongoing problems, Dr. Neubauer said.
Anxiety can affect sleep at any time, but most commonly causes difficulty in falling asleep. People with higher levels of anxiety may feel anxious all the time and have trouble staying asleep. In general, Neubauer said, the risk for awakening in the night parallels the degree of anxiety.
People with persistent insomnia also become anxious about sleep, he said. The more anxious they are about sleep, that undermines the ability to sleep well, and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
In fact, a June 2013 study in the Journal of Neuroscience suggests that sleep deprivation contributes to anxiety by heightening peoples anticipatory and stress-inducing response processes.
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Suggestions For Improving Sleep
There are several strategies for helping you avoid behaviors that get in the way of good sleep. You can develop good sleep habits by practicing some of the below:
- Relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises and progressive muscle relaxation can help reduce anxiety at bedtime. Other relaxation techniques include taking a warm bath or meditating prior to going to bed.
- Controlling stimuli such as using the bedroom for sleep only and not allowing other stimuli such as electronics in. This will help you dissociate your bed as a place of busy activity.
- Setting a consistent bedtime and wake-up time can help you train yourself for consistent sleep.
- Avoiding naps and similar sleep restrictions can make you feel more tired at bedtime which can help improve insomnia for some people.
- Avoiding stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine close to bedtime can help you be physically ready for sleep. Your doctor might also recommend avoiding alcohol close to bedtime.
Your doctor may suggest other strategies tailored to your sleep environment and lifestyle that will help you learn and develop habits that will promote healthy sleep.
What Is The Relationship Between Anxiety And Sleep
Serious sleep disturbances, including insomnia, have long been recognized as a common symptom of anxiety disorders. People who are plagued with worry often ruminate about their concerns in bed, and this anxiety at night can keep them from falling asleep.
In fact, a state of mental hyperarousal, frequently marked by worry, has been identified as a key factor behind insomnia. People with anxiety disorders are inclined to have higher sleep reactivity, which means they are much more likely to have sleeping problems when facing stress.
Sleeping difficulties have been found for people with various types of anxiety including generalized anxiety disorder, OCD, and PTSD. In several studies, over 90% of people with PTSD associated with military combat have reported symptoms of insomnia.
Distress about falling asleep can itself complicate matters, creating a sleep anxiety that reinforces a persons sense of dread and preoccupation. These negative thoughts about going to bed, a type of anticipatory anxiety, can create challenges to healthy sleep schedules and routines.
At the same time, strong evidence indicates that sleeping problems are not only a symptom of anxiety. Instead, sleep deprivation can instigate or worsen anxiety disorders. Researchers have found that people who are prone to anxiety are especially sensitive to the effects of insufficient sleep, which can provoke symptoms of anxiety.
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Avoid Stressful Activities Before Bed
Amber Weiss, licensed psychotherapist and founder of Transformative Mindset, says, Creating some form of a transition from daytime to sleeping is highly recommended. According to Weiss, you cant expect the mind to go to sleep on demand. Instead, you need to allow time for the brain to transition, just like we transition to go outside or when we get home.
The goal is to reduce the nervous thoughts in your head so your mind is clear, calm, and positive before you head off to sleep. This can entail leaving the office, work, news, and social media exchanges for earlier in the day to create buffer time between work and sleep, setting yourself up for better rest.
What Happens When Anxiety Interrupts Sleep
When anxiety causes inadequate sleep, it can go beyond the tiredness of a regular all-nighter. Poinsett says that anxiety can be a trigger for sleep deprivation, creating a vicious cycle that can further affect your sleep pattern.
While the impact of sleep anxiety is largely individual, some common effects of sleep anxiety include:
- Negatively impacts your mood
- Increases chance of depression
- Reduces cognitive reaction times
A small study even found that those who have insomnia are four times more likely to develop depression.
In addition to mental health issues, those with sleep disorders can be at risk for other health problems, including heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, and obesity.
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Severe Anxiety Can Prevent You From Finding Your Place In This World And Flourishing
Anxiety comes in lots of forms. It can be a nagging dread about entering a public place, or about joining a group of people. Sometimes the dread is worse than other times.
Sometimes its a sickening feeling that interferes with your good intentions.
Other times its a crippling terror that plants your feet as if theyre concrete bolted to the sidewalk.
Sometimes anxiety turns on faucets of sweat that run down your face and sides while you ride an elevator. Or makes your mind go blank when you stand up to give a presentation youve worked on for weeks.
A date with a someone new can lead to abdominal cramps, headache, and diarrhea.
But anxiety symptoms can get much, much worse. A rapid heartbeat and sweaty hands, face, and torso, along with severe chest pain and shortness of breath can mimic a heart attack. Many people wind up in the emergency room and theyre shocked when theyre told theyre having a panic attack, not a heart attack.