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How To Deal With Sleep Anxiety

Discuss Your Concerns With A Therapist

How to deal with sleep anxiety and improve your sleep when you have chronic insomnia

A therapist can also help individuals dealing with somniphobia, and some medical doctors may recommend therapy as an initial form of treatment before prescribing any medications. According to Sleep Health Solutions, exposure therapy, relaxation techniques, and cognitive behavioral therapy are forms of treatment for sleep anxiety.

Create Some Space To Unwind

When everything is done for the night and ready for the next day, you do need some time each evening to simply relax, let go, and re-energize. A few ideas:

Regardless of what brings you serenity, set aside at least 10 minutes of downtime each evening. Doing so allows you to feel calmer and may be the prompt you need to get a good nights rest.

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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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:

Consider Getting Medical Help

How To Deal With Sleep Anxiety

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

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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.

/ Get Into The Habit Of A Relaxing Practice Before Bed

Try an evening breathing session, meditation, gentle yoga class or series of stretches to help relax your body and clear your mind. Though late night runs can feel useful as youre expending energy, they raise your heart rate which in turn will affect your sleeping. Instead exercise in the morning or afternoon, which has been proven to reduce anxiety and improve sleep.

‘You can use your breathing to calm your nervous system down, teaching it to shift from a state of high arousal to a state of rest and relaxation,’ says Bostock. ‘Focusing on your breath will also help you to come into the present moment and slow down those racing thoughts.’

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Does Anxiety Go Away

For those people that are diagnosed with a legitimate anxiety disorder, the condition is unlikely to go away. Some people may be able to better control their anxiety disorder with the help and guidance of a therapist or psychologist, and medications may help further control the condition. There may also be specific coping mechanisms to help manage anxiety disorders, however, a permanent cure for anxiety does not currently exist.

For those that do not suffer from an anxiety disorder, but only have occasional or intermittent anxiety from time-to-time, this is normal and healthy behavior for many people. Temporary anxiety is likely to diminish over time, and if it is related to a specific place or person, removing yourself from those situations may help the anxiety go away after some time.

How Common Are Anxiety Disorders

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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
7.7 million3.5%

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.

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How Can I Overcome Anxiety At Bedtime

If anxiety or disrupted sleep occurs often in your day-to-day life, these simple strategies can help you relax your body and mind and ease yourself into sleep. Changing your pre-sleep habits takes time and patience, but adapting to these changes may help you fall asleep with less sleep anxiety over time.

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.

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Why Does It Happen At Night

Anxiety is a normal human emotion characterized by feelings of nervousness and worry. You may find yourself experiencing anxiety during stressful situations, such as a first date or job interview.

Sometimes, though, anxiety may linger around for longer than usual. When this happens, it can interfere with your daily and nightly life.

One of the most common times when people experience anxiety is at night. Many clinical trials have found that sleep deprivation can be a trigger for anxiety. Historically, research also suggests anxiety disorders are associated with reduced sleep quality.

Treating your nighttime anxiety and addressing your sleep issues are important steps in improving your quality of life.

There are manysymptoms of anxiety. Everyone experiences anxiety differently. Symptoms can happen anytime of the day, morning, or night. Common symptoms of anxiety include:

  • feelings of nervousness, restlessness, or worry
  • trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
  • gastrointestinal problems

Another symptom a person with anxiety may also experience is a panic attack. A panic attack is an episode of extreme and intense fear, often accompanied by physical manifestations. The common symptoms of a panic attack include:

  • a sense of impending doom
  • increased heart rate and chest pains
  • shortness of breath and throat tightness
  • sweating, chills, and hot flashes
  • dizziness or lightheadedness
  • a feeling of detachment, or like nothing is real

Avoid Using Unhealthy Coping Strategies To Fall Asleep

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You may be using coping tactics like keeping the light or TV on during the night, in an attempt to help you sleep.

Or you may have been using medication, alcohol or drugs to go to sleep and if so, it is highly recommended that you stop. These wont be addressing the real issues behind why you arent sleeping, and are only providing you with a short term solution, which could turn into a long term problem in the future.

Finding relaxation strategies that work for you, such as muscle relaxation or visual imagery, can help to distract you from your anxious thoughts. You may even want to find some relaxing music to accompany this. Doing these types of relaxation strategies do require dedication and patience, but over time, they can start to help you to sleep better.

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Practice Good Sleep Hygiene

The basics:

  • Go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning.
  • Donât eat or drink any caffeine in the four to five hours before bed.
  • Resist the urge to nap.
  • Avoid exercise two hours before bed.
  • Keep your bedroom cool and dark.
  • Limit your bedroom activities to sleep and sex.

If you canât sleep, get up and do something boring. âKeep a boring book on your bed table,â Obolsky says.

Also, create a restful routine. Prime your body for bed by doing the doing the same things every night. A restful routine that involves a warm bath, listening to music, or deep breathing can be especially helpful if you have insomnia, Edlund says.

Get A Bed That Fits You

When you sleep on an uncomfortable mattress, pressure points build up on your body, causing you to toss and turn. A supportive mattress and pillow provide support to the contours of your body and neck, and keep you cool and comfortable for sleep.

For drool-worthy sleep at a price point that wont break the bank, you may want to check out the Casper Original Mattress. Engineered for cool, comfortable sleep, the Casper Original provides targeted layers of support and unique cooling perforations so you can spend less time counting sheep and more time catching Zs.

If youre looking for that sleeping-on-a-cloud experience, the Casper Nova Hybrid may be the right option for you. As our most plush mattress yet, the Casper Nova provides sturdy support with a luxuriously soft top layer so you can sleep worry-free.

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Find A Solution For Your Sleep Problems

Sleep Health Solutions of Ohio is equipped with to provide doctors and patients with diagnostic information for a wide range of sleep disorders. We can help determine what is keep you up at night, find the right treatment option for you, and monitor your progress towards better sleep health. Call our office for more information.

Dr. Rosenberg is specialized in sleep medicine and neurology. He is also certified by the American Board of Sleep Disorders Medicine and the American Board of Psychology and Neurology. Patients with a wide range of issues are referred for sleep studies and he works together with them to find effective solutions that fit their lifestyle.

Prepare For The Next Day

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Many people find it anxiety-provoking to think about all that they need to do the next day. Being prepared is one of the best things to do to avoid this type of anxiety. Get as much ready as you can, like having your clothes picked out, lunches and bags packed, and your alarm clock set. Putting a small amount of effort into preparation can help keep evening anxiety under control.

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Preliminary Assessment And Initial Management Strategies

2.1.

In evaluating patients with anxiety and/or sleep disorders health care providers should initially consider possible underlying medical causes, including hyperthyroidism and other endocrine illnesses, cardiac problems and other organ system dysfunctions. Medicine use and medicine or substances withdrawal can cause anxiety and insomnia. If medical disorders, medicine use or withdrawal is a plausible reason for anxiety, the underlying cause should be removed or treated.

2.2.

If medical disorders, medicine use or withdrawal is not a plausible reason for anxiety or insomnia, health care providers might investigate whether major depression or other psychiatric disorders are present. If another psychiatric disorder is present, health care providers should treat that disorder first.

2.3.

In individuals with sleep disorders, if no psychiatric comorbidities are present, health care providers may suggest educational interventions, such as going to bed at the same time, reserving bed for sleep, reducing caffeine intake and avoiding strenuous exercise or mental activities near bedtime.

2.4.

In individuals with anxiety disorders, if no psychiatric comorbidities are present, health care providers may explain to the patient that chest pain, indigestion, sweating, and sexual dysfunction are symptoms of anxiety.

Sleep Gives Your Brain And Body Time To Heal

Healthy sleep has been proven to be the most important factor in predicting longevity, even more influential than exercise, diet, or genetics. Studies have shown that almost every system of the body is affected by the quality and quantity of sleep a person gets, especially the brain. Sleep gives the body’s neurons a chance to shut down and repair themselves. Without that opportunity, neurons become so depleted and polluted through normal cellular activities that they begin to malfunction. Sleep provides cells with increased protein production that fuels growth and repairs damage incurred by stress and other factors. It is also integral to maintaining healthy emotional and social functioning.

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