Why Does Anxiety Get Worse At Night
There are a number of reasons why you might find your anxiety worsens at night. One might be that with less stimulation or distraction for your mind, the opportunity for worry can increase. During the day, you might find that everyday tasks occupy your mind and keep anxiety at bay, but once the evening comes and things start to wind down, there are less places for your attention to go.
If you have been struggling with getting to sleep at night, you might find that your anxiety increases the closer it comes to bedtime as you begin to worry about not being able to fall asleep. Other factors such as stressors throughout the day or health concerns can also lead to increased feelings of anxiety at night.
For some people, anxiety kicks in after waking up. Learn how to manage morning anxiety.
How To Minimize Anxiety And Maximize Sleep
To get to sleep more easily, you can try changing some of your pre-sleep habits to decrease your mental and physical stress levels. Habit-changing takes time and persistence, but if you stick to these changes, you will find yourself adapting and feeling less anxious overall in no time.
Avoiding the anxiety that keeps you from getting the sleep you need can be difficult, but following the above all-natural and healthy techniques may be all that you require taking back control over your sleep schedule.
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Stalked By Chronic Nightmares
Chronic nightmares are another troublesome sleep disorder that can cause fear, says Shelby Harris, PsyD, CBSM, director of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program at the Montefiore Medical Centerâs Sleep-Wake Disorders Center in New York City. Children are especially vulnerable, but adults – especially those who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder — experience nightmares, too.
Joni Aldrich, 57, of Winston-Salem, N.C., began to dread sleep after she lost her husband to brain cancer four years ago. After he had a seizure, she had to make the difficult decision to suspend treatment, an experience that traumatized her.
Every night, she had nightmares of him begging her to help him, but she couldnât. She would awaken shaking. Aldrich finally got help from a counselor and began taking an anti-anxiety medication to help her sleep. âI still take the anti-anxiety medication in a very low dose, because I fear the results otherwise,â says Aldrich, CEO of Cancer Lifeline Publications. âEven one of those nightmares wouldn’t be worth it. And, I still go to bed later than I should just to make sure that I’m really tired.â
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Get Rid Of Your Clock
Clocks can be a common trigger for anxiety, especially when youre trying to fall asleep. Instead of having a clock by your bedside where you can glance at it every time you struggle to fall asleep keep a clock outside your room instead. Looking at the clock will only cause your anxiety to get worse, so avoid it altogether.
The Relationship Between Anxiety And Sleep
According to the American Psychological Association, anxiety is âcharacterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure.â
These are hardly ideal ingredients for a good nightâs sleep, by any standards. But thereâs more to the story. Letâs take a look at some key terms that will help delineate the relationship between sleep and anxiety.
Getting caught up in the vicious cycle of anxiety and sleep loss is all too easy, and it can escalate quickly. Before you have to pull yourself out from under hours and hours of sleep debt and possibly even crippling depression, do what you can do nip it in the bud. Take stock and take action, the sooner the better.
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Put Your Phone To Bed
Just say no to doomscrolling before bed the practice of taking in a barrage of bad news online. Give your phone a bedtime before your own, Dr. Albers advises.
And if anxiety keeps you awake or wakes you up, resist the temptation to break this rule and start using your phone. Your phones blue light signals your brain to turn back on, ultimately making it even harder to get to sleep.
This is a No. 1 no-no for helping you fall back to sleep, Dr. Albers warns.
Relaxation Exercises To Help Fall Asleep
Dr. Anis Rehman, Endocrinologist
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Having trouble falling asleep is a common experience. In fact, research suggests that almost a third of adults experience chronic insomnia, a sleep disorder characterized by persistent difficulties in falling or staying asleep. However, for those of us without insomnia, tossing and turning in bed after a stressful day can be a familiar experience.
Stress and anxiety are often to blame for sleep issues. During periods of tension, the body activates its natural stress response, beginning with a cascade of hormones that make us feel more alert and trigger additional physiological changes. Our breathing becomes more quick and shallow, our heart rate and blood pressure increases, and our digestion slows.
When our bodys stress response is activated, it can be immensely challenging to fall and stay asleep. Fortunately, research has shown that there is a way we can turn off the stress response. By activating another natural process, called the relaxation response, we can calm the mind, relax the body, and help ourselves drift off to sleep naturally.
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Try To Focus Your Mental Energy
In order to stop anxious and racing thoughts, try to focus your mental energy on something that you can imagine or something that you can see or hear in your bedroom, says Chloe Sica, a licensed psychologist in New Jersey and New York.
Sica suggests focusing on the white noise of a sound machine or a visual image that you find soothing, such as the crashing waves on a beach or the wind blowing the trees.
If you feel anxious or like you cant sleep, try getting up and gently moving such as walking around or stretching until you feel tired. Its important to avoid watching TV or using screens.
Make Your Bedroom A No
Your phone, tablet, and other screens can mess with your sleep. The reason? They give off blue light, which signals your body to stop making melatonin, the hormone that controls when you feel sleepy. Instead, this light tells your brain to stay alert. Not to mention the late-night dings and buzzes that can jolt you out of peaceful slumber. The best bet for better sleep is to keep computers, TVs, and, yes, your phone out of your bedroom.
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Aromatherapy Diffuser And Essential Oil Set
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.
Dont Lie In Bed Awake
Lying awake will only give your brain time to start another firestorm of worries and anxieties.
If you cant fall asleep after 20 minutes or so, try restarting that bedtime routine.
Dont turn on bright lights, of course, but go do a low-stress activity like pet your cat or drink a cup of tea for a few minutes to help give your body another chance at winding down for the night.
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Avoid Caffeine And Alcohol
It may feel tempting to have a glass of wine to help you get to sleep at night but, according to research, alcohol actually hurts, rather than helps, your sleeping habits in the long run.
Alcohol is a sedative and can help you fall asleep more quickly. But that sedative effect wears off during the night, which interrupts your sleep quality. Alcohol can also cause other sleep problems, including breathing issues, nightmares, and sleep-walking. And research has found that sleeping problems are more common in people who have an alcohol addiction than those who dont.
Another substance you should avoid before bed, for more obvious reasons, is caffeine. Some studies had found that caffeine taken six hours before bed reduced the amount of restful sleep by a whole hour. Not to mention, caffeine is well-known to make anxiety symptoms worse.
Its a hard pill to swallow for coffee-lovers, but limit your caffeine intake to your morning cup if your anxiety is keeping you up at night.
Tailor Your Environment Tocalm Anxiety
You can calm anxiety by tuning your environment to calm yourself down. Eliminate any distractions, including lights, cell phones, the TV, etc., so that you are calm when trying to calm anxiety at night. You can also calm anxiety by using certain items like weighted blankets or essential oils. Try what works for you!
These are just a few ways how to calm anxiety at night. Everyone is different, so it may take some trial and error in order to find out exactly what works best for you.
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Sleepless Nights Try Stress Relief Techniques
In a recent national survey, 44 percent of adults said stress had causedsleepless nights at least once in the previous month. All that tossing,turning and staring at the ceiling can leave you feeling tired andmore stressed the next day. If youre caught in this vicious cycle ofanxiety and insomnia, theres good news: Simple stress relief techniquescan help you sleep better and feel calmer.
Preparing The Sleep Environment
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Do A Bedroom Makeover
Another helpful trick is to make your bedroom a place for nothing but sleep. For some people living in small loft apartments, this might be tricky, but by putting up a divider or curtain, you may be able to simulate a similar separate room effect.
Regardless, redecorating your bedroom for a more comfortable and quiet environment can do wonders for your sleep health. Consider decluttering the room and regularly changing the bedding or adding a rug to make the space more appealing and comfortable.
If you come into your bedroom and still cant sleep, dont just lay there and wait for slumber to hit. Instead, get up after 15 minutes and work on some small projects until your body naturally feels sleepy.
Why Is My Anxiety Worse At Night
If you struggle with a bit of anxiety in the daytime you may find that your anxiety ramps up significantly when your head hits the pillow. Why is this? There are three main theories:
- fatigue from the day means your brain can be less able to do that hard work of emotional regulation.
- you may have anxiety at night specifically surrounding bedtime/sleep if youve been experiencing sleep difficulty for a while and feel frustrated and helpless.
- once you lay down in the quiet darkness, there is nothing to distract your thoughts, which allows anxieties to bubble to the surface that you may have been trying to suppress all day.
Whatever the trigger, it can quickly become a perpetual cycle and its really difficult to break.
My oldest kiddo who is twice-exceptional struggles with ADHD and anxiety alongside his gifted brain that seems to run at double-speed and has trouble shutting down at night. He often finds himself struggling to fall asleep for several hours simply because hes worrying about having a bad night of sleep. The poor kid knows how ironic that is, but cant seem to help it.
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Why Does Anxiety Stop People From Getting A Good Night’s Sleep
We all get anxious once in a while over even the smallest of things. Anxiety is a normal human response characterized by worry and fearful feelings in dangerous or unknown situations. Stress and anxiety cause the body to produce hormones that help us react fast and escape harm.
When these hormones reach high levels, particularly before sleep, it becomes difficult for the body to relax. You will find it difficult to fall asleep, and if you manage to sleep, stressful or worrisome thoughts may wake you up during the night.
When this happens over a couple of days, you would, and understandably so, not look forward to nighttime. As a result, you may develop sleep anxiety.
Make Plans For Tomorrow
Worrying about the next day can often increase anxiety and keep people up at night. If this is whats causing your nighttime anxiety, try addressing the problem directly by planning out the next day.
You might find it helpful to use a planner or a to-do list to prepare yourself for what you need to do tomorrow. That way, you can go to bed feeling confident there are no unpleasant surprises youd forgotten about waiting for you the next day.
Make sure youre mindful about how you feel if you decide to practice this for some people, thinking about the next day might make anxiety even worse.
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So What Can You Do To Calm Down So You Can Actually Sleep
Well, first off, theres no substitute for seeking help from a mental health professional.
An anxiety or trauma therapist, in particular, can help work with you to reduce your anxiety and panic symptoms.
According to Hahn, there are specific treatments, like EMDR or sensorimotor psychotherapy, which can be helpful in resetting your nervous system and settling your overactive amygdala thats causing your anxiety disorder.
Why Is Anxiety Common At Night
Anxiety can be common at night because nighttime is the only time of day when things are quiet, the demands of the day start to slow down, and our opportunities to worry start to increase, says Annia Palacios, a licensed professional counselor in Texas and Florida.
These ruminating thoughts contribute to difficulty falling and staying asleep, she says.
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Forget Falling Asleep In Minutesmost Nights Im Lucky If I Can Drift Off In Less Than An Hour
And Im not alone in my struggle. Robert Oexman, D.C., director of the Sleep to Live Institute, explains that theres a connection between anxiety and sleep. Those spiraling thoughts may keep you from falling asleep and lead to worse sleep quality at night. And this can be the case for women, in particular, especially if theyre stressed about interpersonal issues.
In fact, theres plenty of evidence to suggest that theres a relationship between sleep and mood. People with insomnia have greater levels of depression and anxiety than those who sleep normally, Oexman says. The more a person experiences insomnia and the more frequently they wake at night as a result, the higher the chances of developing depression.
Or as licensed psychologist Ben Rutt, Ph.D., puts it, difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep can be symptoms of a larger problem with anxiety. Ruminating about worst-case scenarios, racing thoughts, and obsessing over things you need to do can prevent you from falling asleep, he says. Worrying about these things can also wake you up and prevent you from falling back asleep.
Limit Alcohol And Caffeine Intake Before Bed
I know this one can be a bit of a bummer, but what you eat and drink can affect your anxiety and how you sleep. Caffeine relates to anxiety and sleep in two ways. First, too much caffeine can exacerbate feelings of anxiety. The second is the obvious one caffeine keeps you awake. As a rule, you should avoid drinking caffeine for six hours before you go to bed.
Alcohol can also affect your anxiety symptoms and sleep by throwing off your circadian rhythm. Even if you find it easier to fall asleep after a few cocktails, many people wake up a few hours later when their body metabolizes the alcohol. Avoid drinking alcohol at least four hours before you go to sleep.