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How To Stay Asleep With Anxiety

Stay Away From Caffeinated Drinks

A POWERFUL breathing technique to help you fall asleep and stay asleep

Eliminate caffeinated drinks and foods after 2:00 P.M. Caffeine affects people differently, so your cut off time may be a little earlier or later, but start with 2:00 P.M. and adjust as needed. The National Sleep Foundation identifies caffeine as a source of insomnia as well as anxiety, excessive urination, irritability and rapid heartbeat.

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.

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.

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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.

How To Cope If You Wake Up In The Middle Of The Night

Signs You May Have An Anxiety Disorder

Regardless of what causes you to wake up, when you find yourself staring at the ceiling in the wee hours, all you really want is to fall back to sleep the sooner the better. Here are a few tips that can help:

Consider naturally sedative herbsFor temporary nighttime waking and sleeplessness, several herbs act as natural sedatives. The strongest come from effecting herbs such as corydalis yanhusuo, California poppy, kava, jujube, skullcap, lobelia, and Western pasque flower, Dr. Rawls says. These act both centrally and peripherally on GABA, a natural neurotransmitter that essentially turns your brain off and helps induce sleep.

Bacopa, passion flower, and motherwort also affect GABA, but they are more gentle and balancing, Dr. Rawls says. Theyre commonly used in traditional medicine for their calming powers. Because they have a short half life, you can take them even in the middle of the night, and you wont wake up groggy the next morning, he says.

One warning: All herbs that impact GABA should only be taken intermittently no more than a few nights in a row. Overuse may suppress the bodys natural production of GABA and could lead to more sleeplessness down the road.

Looking at a clock can similarly activate your brain. Even if you dont realize it, you may end up mentally calculating how many hours you have left before you must wake up, which can leave you feeling anxious and less able to fall back asleep.

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Which Comes First The Chicken Or The Egg

Before we get into the possible treatment of anxiety and recommendations for better sleep, it is important to distinguish which comes first the anxiety or the sleep disturbance? That is usually the main problem in the very diagnosis of anxiety or a sleep disorder.

As mentioned in the introduction, anxiety can cause sleep problems, and sleep problems can cause anxiety.

This means that there is a direct connection and causative relationship between anxiety and sleep problems.

Studies have shown that sleep disturbances directly co-occur with psychological disorders, like anxiety and depression.

Therefore, you as a patient need to discuss both of these issues with your doctor. You also need to treat both of them to see some relief to your mental health as well as improvement in the quality of your sleep.

If left untreated, anxiety, as well as disrupted sleep, can have harmful effects on your life they can cause cardiovascular problems, diabetes and stroke among others.

How To Beat Back Night

Weve all been there: lying in bed after a long day, tired yet wide-awake. Our mind is racing. Perhaps were worrying about money, work or have been watching too much news.

Whatever the case may be, trying to fall asleep when your mind wont quit is nothing short of maddening.

Why do anxious thoughts flare up at night and how can we combat them?

During the day, we have dozens of tasks occupying our energy. Bedtime brings a halt in activity that can be a difficult transition for our brains.

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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.

Anxiety Stress And Insomnia Are Closely Related

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

When it comes to anxiety and sleep, theres a bit of chicken and egg situation: its hard to know which problem came first.

However, research has found that insomnia and stress are closely related. Studies have shown that stress causes lack of sleep, and that lack of sleep, in turn, activates many stress-related pathways in the brain.

Because of this, treating one condition can help with the other. According to Mendez, getting enough sleep is part of an overall care plan for managing anxiety, with or without a formal diagnosis. On the other hand, for people with anxiety disorders, treatment with medication and therapy can help address sleep issues.

If youve tried all these practical, non-invasive strategies, there is no crime in seeking out medical help, Mendez says.

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Avoid Caffeine Late In The Day

Caffeine can significantly lower your bodys ability to fall asleep. Caffeine can last in your body for up to 10 hours after consumption, some people storing higher concentrations than others. Every individual’s body is differentwhile some may get less or light sleep with even little traces of caffeine, others may not be affected by large concentrations.4

While you may not be able to give up your coffee during the day, consider staying away from beverages containing caffeine at least 5 to 6 hours before your bedtime. This time period allows your body to develop enough melatonin without being obstructed by the effects of caffeine.4

Ways To Treat Anxiety And Insomnia

Now that weve covered the various anxiety disorders that may be fueling your insomnia, its time to learn how to treat insomnia due to anxiety.

There are many methods on how to treat insomnia due to anxiety. This guide covers the natural remedies for insomnia and anxiety, foods that help you stay asleep, relaxation techniques for sleep anxiety, and the best antidepressants that aid sleep. Below are possible ways to treat anxiety and insomnia.

Read Also: What Can You Do To Help Anxiety

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

What Causes Anxiety Before Sleep

Sleep Anxiety in Children

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.

Also Check: How To Cure Anxiety Naturally

Why Therapy For Sleep Disorders And Not Medication

When youre desperate for sleep, it can be tempting to reach for a sleeping pill or an over-the-counter sleep aid. But sleep medication wont cure the problem or address the underlying symptomsin fact, it can often make sleep problems worse in the long term. Thats not to say theres never a time or a place for sleep medication. To avoid dependence and tolerance, though, sleeping pills are most effective when used sparingly for short-term situationssuch as traveling across time zones or recovering from a medical procedure. Even if your sleep disorder requires the use of prescription medication, experts recommend combining a drug regimen with therapy and healthy lifestyle changes.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy can improve your sleep by changing your behavior before bedtime as well as changing the ways of thinking that keep you from falling asleep. It also focuses on improving relaxation skills and changing lifestyle habits that impact your sleeping patterns. Since sleep disorders can be both caused by and trigger emotional health problems such as anxiety, stress, and depression, therapy is an effective way of treating the underlying problem rather than just the symptoms, helping you develop healthy sleeping patterns for life.

Sleep Anxiety: Are You Afraid To Fall Asleep

by Gingras Sleep Medicine | Oct 15, 2020 | Insomnia, Sleep Deprivation, Sleep Medicine

Sleep is just as essential to life as food and water. We spend about one-third of our lives sleeping. When we have difficulty sleeping, it interferes with our daily routine and it could really hinder us physically, mentally, and emotionally. Sometimes people are scared to fall asleep or just have trouble closing their eyes and relaxing, especially after countless hours of tossing and turning, this is called sleep anxiety.

With Halloween soon approaching, children may be too afraid to fall asleep after seeing ghoulish decorations in their neighborhoods. Whether it be a black cat, a witchs cauldron, or even what appears to be a friendly scarecrow, these images can linger in childrens minds, creating fear and anxiety. Perhaps they recently watched a scary movie, and now they are too scared to go to sleep. Fear takes over. A parent may need to stay with the child until the child eventually falls asleep.

Somniphobia is the fear of falling asleep and staying asleep. You may feel that you will not be in control of what is happening around you when you sleep, or you may miss out on life if youre not awake. Some people also fear that they will not wake up after having a good nights rest.

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Recommended Reading: How To Deal With Anxiety And Insomnia

Proactively Reduce Stress During The Day

Sometimes our anxious thoughts are simply the remains of a stressful day.

By taking a positive approach to your day and doing as much as you can to eliminate stress, you can create a peaceful night.

Some of the best ways to deal with anxious thoughts at night are to reduce the stress you have to deal with during the day, says Benjamin Ritter, a coach and consultant specializing in personal and professional leadership development. You can avoid stressful people, be more open and honest about your feelings, and most importantly plan and strategize areas of your life. Reduce the number of decisions you have to make during the day and you’ll have more left over in your brain bank to deal with stress and anxiety at night.

Seeking Professional Support For Sleep Anxiety

How to get better sleep at night? Ways to deal with Stress, Anxiety, and Insomnia

If you are experiencing sleep anxiety, and it is continuing to have a dramatic impact on your life despite all attempts to improve it, it is highly recommended that you seek professional support to get access to specific coping mechanisms to help you manage your symptoms.

Firstly, you may want to go to your GP to talk through your problem. They will be able to listen and offer advice on the next steps available to you, which may include accessing a private healthcare service like Priory Group for an assessment, diagnosis and specialist treatment. You can also come directly to the Priory Group team, where our psychiatrists and therapists regularly work with people with anxiety disorders as well as sleep disorders such as insomnia.

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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.

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