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How Can I Fall Asleep With Anxiety

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.

Spend Less Time In Bed

Sleep restriction is a critical component of CBT-I, according to Tal. “Instead of spending all that time in bed not sleeping, sleep restriction reduces the amount of time in bed to the amount of time you are actually sleeping. So for example, if you are sleeping only 6 hours but you are in bed for 9, sleep restriction would tell you to be in bed for only 6 hours,” he says. Initially, this will increase anxiety around sleep, but according to Tal, by the 2nd or 3rd night most people pass out the minute their head hits the pillow. You add on time in bed incrementally, as you begin to sleep more. The goal is two-fold: ramp up sleep drive and decouple the bed from feelings of anxiety and restlessness.

That last bit is important because the more your body starts to associate the bed as the place where you DON’T sleep versus one where you do, the more entrenched your insomnia becomes. At one point, my own bed, which I’d loved for so long, began to feel like a cruel medieval torture chamber. Tal strongly recommends that insomnia sufferers not undertake sleep restriction on their own, especially if they have a psychological illness or other medical conditions. The good news is that CBT-I is a short-term treatment that offers results fairly quickly, often within 5-8 weeks, though it doesnt work for everyone.

Keep Consistent Sleep Hours

To keep your body in a regular cycle of sleep, it’s important to stay consistent with your sleep hours. That means trying to go to bed at night and wake up in the morning around the same time every day. Your body will become used to the sleep schedule you set, helping you more easily fall and stay asleep throughout the night.

Many people find it difficult to maintain routine sleep hours over the weekend. However, if you’re always having irregular sleep hours on the weekends, you’re setting yourself up to have sleep issues throughout the week. Shifting your wake and sleep times an hour or two shouldnt completely throw your sleep schedule off for the rest of the week. But if you’re committed to getting better and more consistent rest, you’ll need to keep your hours as stable as possible.

Also Check: How To Know You Have Social Anxiety

What Really Works When You’re Too Anxious To Fall Asleep

Why is it that just when our heads hit the pillow our thoughts take off in a sprint?

Our brains have this annoying tendency to ruminate on worst-case scenarios and other negative reflections at night — and all that worry is seriously disrupting our ability to fall asleep.

“Anxiety is an emotion that actually wakes us up,” Steve Orma, PsyD, a clinical psychologist and author of Stop Worrying and Go to Sleep: How to Put Insomnia to Bed for Good, tells The Huffington Post. “There are all kinds of physical changes happening that ramp you up, which is the exact opposite state of what you need to be in when you’re trying to fall asleep.”

The good news is that since anxiety is often triggered by our own thinking, we also have the ability to think our way to better sleep, Orma says. Below are some tips to help you banish that anxiety so you can drift off to dreamland faster — no sleeping pill required.

Identify what you’re worried about.

Dissecting the source of your anxiety is the first important step to banishing it, Orma says. If you’re suffering from insomnia, you’re likely feeling anxious about sleep if you’re suffering from general anxiety, you’re likely unable to drift off because your thoughts are preoccupied with other stressors.

“You have to identify what it is that’s causing you to stay awake and deal with that before crawling into bed,” he explains. “People worry about all kinds of things when they’re in bed, and that’s not the time to think things through.”

Aromatherapy Diffuser And Essential Oil Set

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Aromatherapy is a great self-care tool because its said to help improve pain levels and relieve stress.

In particular, while research is somewhat limited on essential oils, lavender oil is one thats generally considered a natural sleep aid. For example, one older study found that lavender increased the amount of slow and deep wave sleep.

Thats why this diffuser and essential oil set is a great tool to help you work aromatherapy into your nightly routine. Plus, the wood diffuser will look cute on your bedside.

Sense a pattern here? Products that give you something calming to focus on before bed are a great idea because they help take your mind off your worries.

Lighting a scented candle before bed is a great way to do that.

Homesick makes a whole line of candles designed to evoke the smells of your home state or specific memories so its pretty easy to find a scented candle that youll find calming.

Read Also: How To Reduce Anxiety To Sleep

How Do I Know If I Suffer From Anxiety

Common anxiety signs and symptoms include: Feeling nervous, restless or tense. Having a sense of impending danger, panic or doom. Having an increased heart rate. Breathing rapidly Sweating. Trembling. Feeling weak or tired. Trouble concentrating or thinking about anything other than the present worry.

Avoid Lying In Bed Awake

If youre lying in bed for more than 20 minutes and still cant fall asleep, it might be time to give yourself a do-over. While it may feel counterintuitive, Lawson suggests leaving your bedroom to do a sleep-inducing activity, like having a cup of tea or reading a book. This conditioning, known as stimulus control, can reduce the time it takes to fall asleep.

If youre going to try stimulus control, its important to remove yourself from your bedroom environment. This helps give you a mental reset when you try to fall asleep again.

Also Check: How To Stop Chronic Anxiety

What Causes Sleep Anxiety

Anxiety is a natural part of being human. Were meant to feel afraid or worried in dangerous situations. Stress and anxiety trigger our bodies to release hormones that help us react quickly to escape harm. But if you have chronic anxiety, you might feel stress or worry all the time. You may feel fearful of everyday situations like driving to work or even falling asleep.

Chronically high levels of these hormones, especially before sleep, can make it hard for your body to relax. You may have difficulty falling asleep. If you do fall asleep, you may wake up during the night with stressful or worrisome thoughts and not be able to fall asleep again.

The combination of a anxiety and insomnia can also be caused by a condition where there isnt enough thyroid hormone in your bloodstream and your metabolism slows down .

Research suggests that anxiety can affect rapid eye movement sleep. This is the phase of sleep when you tend to have vivid dreams. If you have anxiety, the dreams may be disturbing or turn into nightmares that wake you.

Just as anxiety can affect sleep, sleep can affect anxiety. Sleep anxiety is a common characteristic of insomnia, wherein the individual begins to experience anxiety during the day and evening about poor sleep, which may help cause another night of bad sleep.

How To Fall Asleep In 2 Minutes

Sleep, Anxiety, and Insomnia: How to Sleep Better When You’re Anxious

Ackerman claims that the United States Navy Pre-Flight School developed a routine for pilots to fall asleep within 2 minutes. Pilots had to practice it for 6 weeks, even though they were drinking coffee with gunfire sounds and making loud noises.

This may not work for you. You might need to learn the basics of the military approach: relaxation and breathing. These have scientific proof that they are effective. This method may not work if you have anxiety or ADHD.

These are just a few of the many ways you could make your bedroom more conducive to sleep.

There are many tools that you can use to reduce the disturbances in your bedroom. Literally.

You can purchase earplugs online, as well as blackout curtains and white noise machines.

You dont have to take up the 4-7-8 breathing or military style of living. Instead, optimize your bedroom for sound sleep.

Christal Yuen, an editor for Healthline, writes and edits content that revolves around health and beauty. Her goal is to assist readers in their health and wellness journeys. Follow her Twitter.

Although night terrors are often associated with children and adults, they can also occur in adults. Find out more about the possible causes.

Our body needs sleep to repair and restore itself. Lets take a look at each of the stages, and how they work.

Recommended Reading: Can You Have Anxiety While Sleeping

Keep The Bedroom Chilled And Completely Dark

We may want to consider keeping our bedroom just a tad cooler than we like, and leaving any nightstand lights off.

Ensure your bedroom is quiet, comfortable, ventilated, dark and cool, says Elaine Slater, a psychologist and psychotherapeutic counselor. Even a small amount of light in your bedroom can disrupt the production of melatonin and overall sleep.

What To Do When You Cant Sleep: 9 Tips

Prioritizing a good nights sleep isnt just important for your general health, it can also help with feelings of anxiety, as your body is less likely to feel overwhelmed or on edge when youve slept well.

However, falling asleep can be difficult, so its important to build a strategy for a better nights sleep. Below are some tips to try in order to improve your chances of falling asleep naturally.

Read Also: How To Improve Social Anxiety

Take A Tip From Your Kids With A Strict Bedtime Routine

We know how important it is for children to have a nighttime routine as it creates a sensed of structure and security, well the same goes for adults especially if you suffer from anxiety, says Bianca L. Rodriguez, a psychotherapist and spiritual coach. A bedtime routine can help you self soothe and act as a container for your anxiety. I recommend taking a warm bath or shower before bed to relax your muscles as the state of your body impacts the activity in your mind. Imagining frustrations, negative energy or worries flowing down the drain can help you approach sleep feeling more clear and calm.

Go To Bed When You’re Sleepy

Help! I keep falling asleep during mindfulness

If you are not sleepy when you lie down, you are almost guaranteed to have trouble falling asleep. Leibowitz says that he has fixed many patients’ sleep issues by simply suggesting that they go to bed later.

He says, “We all have a clock in our brain that controls when sleep and wake should happen. That is a trait. People who are night owls are night owls. People who are morning people are morning people. And, contrary to popular belief, we can not train ourselves to be morning people by going to bed early and getting up early.”

Many problems with sleep come simply because we tell ourselves that we have to be a morning person when we aren’t, and we try to be a morning person by going to bed early when we aren’t sleepy.

Here’s an example: If you are someone who needs seven hours of sleep and you go to bed at 10 p.m. and set your alarm for 7 a.m., you’re giving yourself a nine-hour window for sleep. Those extra two hours are going to show up somewhereeither at the beginning of the night, in the middle of the night or in the early morning. So if you go to bed at midnight and wake up at 7 a.m. and you feel refreshed, you may be a night owl who is a seven-hour sleeper, and that’s OK!

By setting your wake time and knowing the number of hours of sleep you generally need each night, you’ll be able to better know the time to go to bed when you will actually be sleepy.

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How Can I Tell If Its Anxiety Or A Sleep Disorder

Sleep disorders are very common in anxious people. Anxiety makes it difficult to quiet your mind and body to go to sleep. Not long ago, we believed that if the sleep problem was caused by another medical or mental health condition like anxiety, you would treat the cause and the sleep problem would go away. We now know this isnt true. If the anxiety is treated, the sleep problem may remain. The current belief is that you must treat both problems.

But not all sleep problems start with another condition like anxiety. Some people only have anxiety about sleep. Their anxiety is caused about worrying about sleep or how they will function after a night of bad sleep. If this struggle continues night after night, they start to dread the bed. During the day, they arent anxious, but once they start thinking about going to bed, their anxiety rises. Other people are anxious about sleep because of something that happens during sleep. It could be nightmares, fear of sleep walking or other behaviors that only occur when the person is asleep and unaware, or waking up gasping for air due to untreated sleep apnea. Sometimes its fear of the dark. Additionally, about 40 percent of people who have panic attacks will have nocturnal panic attacks. Essentially, they wake up from sleep in a panic. All these things make sleep something to be feared, and if you dread your bed, youll have problems sleeping.

Consider Getting Medical Help

If you have a sleep disorder that doesnât let up, such as insomnia or chronic nightmares, talk to a sleep specialist.

Insomnia can be treated with cognitive behavioral therapy or sleep medications. Chronic nightmares may require imagery rehearsal therapy that involves rewriting and rehearsing a new version of the nightmare during the day. It can also be treated with various prescription medications. You should also talk to your doctor if you think you have sleep apnea or another condition thatâs disrupting your sleep.

For Coulter, training for a marathon in 2008 provided a temporary break from the sleeplessness. She also gets some relief by taking a sleep medication, though she says it doesnât always work. She is now considering seeing a sleep specialist and in the meantime, has started running again. âRunning does help,â she says. âI think I shift my anxiety to doing a good run or doing well in a race.â

Read Also: What Are The Best Vitamins For Stress And Anxiety

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