How Common Are Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety disorders are the most common type of mental illness, affecting the lives of around 20% of American adults and 25% of teenagers each year.
|Adults Affected in U.S.||Percentage of U.S. Adult Population|
|Generalized Anxiety Disorder|
Not all people with anxiety disorders have the same degree of symptoms or impact from anxiety on their everyday life. In one large survey, around 43% of adults described having mild impairment of their life from anxiety. Around 33% said it was moderate, and nearly 23% said it was severe.
How To Get Rid Of Anxiety So You Can Sleep Better
If youre struggling to fall asleep due to anxiety, it could be that treating the anxiety will help solve your insomnia and lack of sleep as well. Anxiety disorders should only be diagnosed by a licensed therapist or medical professional, and these professionals can also help you find treatment regimens as well as, potentially, medications to control the condition. You should not try to self-medicate for anxiety disorders, and should only medicate per the medical advice and supervision of a psychiatrist.
One of the most common and effective treatments for anxiety disorders is continued and guided therapy with a professional counselor or therapist.
The branch of therapy known as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can be effective for many people, as it helps patients suffering from anxiety disorders create new, positive thought pathways that can help when in anxious situations. There are three different types of CBT, each with an individualized approach in treatment, including interpersonal therapy, thought records, and modern exposure therapy.
Another form of therapy is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, also known as ACT. This form of therapy is more focused on mindfulness training and taking action based on personal values, and is unique in that it is not focused on symptom reduction.
Shifting Your Perspective
Are Lack Of Sleep And Anxiety Connected
Lack of sleep and anxiety are highly connected. Those who suffer from sleep problems often have issues with anxiety, says Dr. Julia Kogan, a health psychologist specializing in sleep and stress from Miami, Florida. Those who have anxiety often struggle with sleep issues.
Kogan says that when youre not sleeping well your body releases more cortisol, a hormone associated with stress. This can cause uncomfortable symptoms, such as headaches or digestive issues, that can make you feel anxious or give you low energy due to poor sleep.
The more activated the nervous system, the harder it is to fall asleep, Kogan explains.
So, if youre feeling anxious, its unlikely youll be able to fall asleep and stay asleep. This can then cause a loop where youre not sleeping and youre feeling more anxious. This results in even more problems with sleep, Kogan says.
If youve ever had a bad nights sleep, you may have experienced a little anxiety the next day. Research shows that lack of sleep can contribute to this irritability.
A 2013 study found that sleep deprivation amplified reactions in the amygdala and anterior insula. These are parts of the brain that are associated with anxiety.
These reactions were strongest in people who displayed high levels of trait anxiety, which refers to the anxiety thats part of your personality.
Sleep disturbances dont directly cause anxiety disorders, but disturbed sleep can contributeto anxiety when other factors are at play, such as:
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Should I Reward My Child For Staying In Bed And Being Brave
A reward chart for trying to be brave can be helpful. At first, this may be for not getting out of bed and just calling out if they really feel they need you. Then later, as your child feels safer, you can reward them for staying in bed all night and not calling out.
Reward and praise your child as soon as they wake up in the morning ‘for knowing that their bedroom is a safe place to be’ and remind them they can always talk to you when they feel worried. The reward should be something small and could involve collecting a certain number of stickers leading to a reward your child will enjoy . This will vary depending on the age of your child. The reward should be easy to achieve for your child to begin with to increase the chance of your child being able to succeed.
How Can I Teach My Child To Get Over Their Fears
Teach your child skills to get over their fears. For example:
- discuss ways to respond to nighttime fears, such as by ‘being brave’ and thinking positive thoughts
- tell your child how you deal with something that frightens you
You can also try reading stories about children who are afraid and conquer their fears.
For example, for younger kids:
- ‘David and the worry beast: Helping children cope with anxiety’ by Anne Marie Guanci
- ‘The huge bag of worries’ by Virginia Ironside
For older kids:
- ‘Mind your mind’ by Leigh Hay and Julie Johansen
- ‘What to do when you’re scared and worried’ by James J. Crist
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How To Sleep When Stressed And Anxious
Katy asked on what sleep questions you all had, and Dr. Farrell-Carnahan took the time to answer them all on video! Weve taken this video and turned it into a list of tips to help you sleep when stressed and anxious.
According to our expert, with insomnia, knowledge and behavior change are power. There are actually things you can learn and do differently to prevent insomnia from becoming chronic and to treat it once it has.
Without further ado, here are seven tips to help you get a better nights sleep.
What To Avoid Before Bed
For better quality sleep, avoid taking certain substances in the hours before bedtime. For instance, avoid foods and beverages with caffeine, which can keep you awake at night these include coffee, tea, and chocolate. Also, avoid smoking or chewing tobacco, as it contains nicotine, which can disrupt sleep. Similarly, drinking alcohol interrupts your body’s ability to achieve deep, restful sleep, so skip drinks before bed.¹
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Avoid Using Your Phone During Sleep Hours
In her Psychology Today article entitled How to Calm Your Racing Mind So You Can Sleep, Susan Biali Haas M.D. shares the following about cell phone usage during sleeping hours:
First of all, the light from the phone is stimulating to the brain and can suppress melatonin release . The best solution is to not look at your phone after 9 p.m. .
Resist the urge to read the news in bed during sleeping hours as well. Reading about stock market uncertainties, spiking COVID-19 cases, murders and nationwide unrest is the perfect recipe for a crummy nights sleep.
Yes, by all means, stay informed. But your sleep hours are precious and should be guarded. Use your non-sleep hours to catch up on the latest news while setting healthy time limits on media consumption.
Start Over And Don’t Clock
If you haven’t fallen asleep within about 15 minutes of lying down, get up, go to another room, and do something relaxing. Read a book for a few minutes, have a drink of water, or just sit and breathe deeply before trying to fall asleep again. Also, don’t watch the clockturn their faces away from you so you can’t see them from bed. Knowing the time may add anxiety and cause you to toss and turn.¹
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Why Sleep Is Important
Matthew Walker, director of the Center for Human Sleep Science at the University of California, Berkeley, has explained in his book Why We Sleep that sleep is the most important factor to our physical and mental wellbeing more than exercise, more than diet, and even more than our economic circumstances. “Without sleep,” he says, “there is low energy and disease. With sleep, there is vitality and health. More than 20 large scale epidemiological studies all report the same clear relationship: the shorter your sleep, the shorter your life.”
Sleep and getting the full recommended eight hours of it per night is one of the most important factors determining how healthy and happy our lives will be. Getting enough sleep affects everything from vitality and energy to weight gain and having a healthy immune system. It affects our mental health, as well. Deep sleep the point at which we begin to dream is an incredibly therapeutic state of mind that helps us to build emotional resilience and handle the stresses of our lives more easily.
What Causes Anxiety Disorders
The exact cause of anxiety is unknown. In fact, researchers believe that there is not one single cause but rather an interplay of factors that include a persons genetics, family history, and exposure to negative life events. Some health problems and drugs can also contribute to symptoms of anxiety.
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Give Yourself Enough Time For Sleep
The average adult needs eight or nine hours of sleep per night. Its important that you give yourself the chance to get this amount of sleep.
Where possible, try to go to bed at least eight hours before you need to get up. If you go to bed too late, you may find that you are constantly checking the clock throughout the night and worrying about getting enough sleep. These negative thought processes can add to your anxiety, making it even more likely that youll struggle with insomnia.
What Are The Health Risks Of Not Getting Enough Sleep
Short sleep and fragmented sleep are linked with increased risk of heart attack, stroke, obesity, accidents, memory problems, diabetes, difficulty with concentration and impaired learning. Sleep is sometimes referred to as the third pillar of health: Sleep, nutrition, and exercise. In order to be healthy, all three must be managed well.
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Set Yourself Up For Healthy Sleep When Stressed And Anxious
If you try all of these steps and still struggle to sleep soundly, consider reaching out to your doctor or a sleep expert for support. Treatments for a generalized anxiety disorder or a sleep disorder can vary significantly.
One mental health treatment, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia , is an evidence-based therapeutic technique that looks at the interplay of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that can impact sleep.
Your sleep and anxiety are interconnected. Finding ways to better manage one will ultimately help you find relief with the other.
Still Struggling To Sleep Talk To Your Doctor
As we wrap up Dr. Farrell-Carnahans excellent advice for getting sleep during this anxious time, wed be remiss if we didnt remind you to consider treatment if your insomnia is chronic.
Dr. Farrell-Carnahan recommends asking your doctor if cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia might be work for you. She also suggests the Society for Behavioral Sleep Medicines website for learning more about insomnia, CBT for insomnia, and other kinds of disordered sleep.
What are your tips for when you cant sleep due to anxiety? Please share them with us in the comments!
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Check In About The Things That May Keep You Awake
For many people, a major factor that interrupts sleep is worrying about how much you need to sleep or how many problems might come from not sleeping well. This pressure can stop you from getting to sleep.
It can help to notice and challenge catastrophic thoughts about sleep. For instance, you might take a minute to consider: Will not getting sleep really mean I wont be able to function the next day?
Anxiety And Sleep Problems
When you sleep your mind and body relax, so the next day you’re sharper and able to withstand some of life’s daily stresses. For those with anxiety however, sleep is not always easy to come by.
Sleep problems are extremely common in those with persistent stress, and in many cases it can actually cause a cycle that makes it harder to overcome anxiety in the future.
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What Causes Anxiety Before Sleep
According to clinical psychologist Emily Knott, Anxiety before bedtime often takes the form of a phenomenon referred to in psychology as pre-sleep arousal.
Knott says that pre-sleep arousal may cause the body and nervous system to enter a state of heightened awareness that may take the form of problem-solving, thinking about your own thoughts, focusing on stimuli in the environment such as noise and light, and ruminating about the consequences of not being able to sleep.
While there hasnt been extensive research conducted on sleep and anxiety, there are a few reasons why your anxiety may be worse at night. Here are possible causes.
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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Finally Consider Your Diet
We’ve already mentioned that eating a heavy meal too close to bedtime can cause sleeplessness, but the actual foods you eat and drink can affect your sleep as well.
Many people who have trouble falling asleep, for example, drink alcohol before bedtime, thinking it will “relax them” and help them fall asleep more easily. In reality, consuming alcohol within two hours of going to bed is more likely to disrupt your sleep than enhance it. Alcohol’s effects actually increase anxiety, and have a physiological “rebound effect” that can cause you to wake up more frequently in the middle of the night.
Same with coffee, black tea, and other forms of caffeine. They are stimulants not only on a physical level, but on a mental level as well. If you’re already anxious, caffeine can increase both the number of thoughts racing through your mind and the worries they trigger.
Instead, you might think about adding some of the following to your diet:
What Tests Help Confirm A Sleep Anxiety Diagnosis
In some cases, your provider may do a sleep study to find out if you have a sleep disorder. Also called polysomnography, a sleep study is a test where you stay overnight in a sleep lab. Your healthcare provider evaluates how your body works during sleep by checking your:
- Blood oxygen levels.
- Snoring or other noises you make during sleep.
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Cbti Can Help You Take Control Of Your Thoughts
These strategies, while effective on their own, are even more effective as part of a structured CBTi programme.5 If youâve tried multiple techniques and nothing has worked you may need support from an expert sleep team.
At Sleepstation, we developed a digital CBTi programme which has been clinically-validated and is highly effective at resolving insomnia. Weâve helped thousands of people to take back control of their sleep and our results speak for themselves.
So if you canât sleep at night due to overthinking, our sleep improvement programme can help you optimise your sleep for better health. Get started today.
What Are A Few Tricks To Help You Sleep When You Have Anxiety
Relaxation techniques help a person relax so that sleep pressure will be unopposed and they can fall asleep. Techniques such as breathing skills, progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, meditation, yoga, constructive worry, and mindfulness can all help. Right now, there are a lot of apps you can get for free that teach you how to do these skills. A favorite free app in the sleep community is called CBT-i Coach. It was made in partnership with Stanford University Sleep Center and the VA. It has a lot of useful information about improving sleep, including a section called Quiet Your Mind. All of the techniques that benefit anxiety and sleep are there, and your phone will guide you in how to use it.
Regions Sleep Health Center employs two sleep psychologists. Not only are they trained and experienced in clinical psychology and mental health treatments, but they have additional training in assessing and treating sleep disorders. If they determine that anxiety is your chief concern, they can help you connect with Behavioral Health to treat the anxiety and then offer treatment for insomnia. If the anxiety is strictly due to poor sleep, they can usually help improve your sleep without adding medications in six to eight weeks.
Here are some resources that can help with anxiety, sleep disorders and behavioral health:
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