Use A Weighted Blanket
Weighted blankets are a type of heavy blanket that typically weighs between 5 and 30 pounds. Theyre known for producing calming effects by mimicking the feeling of a hug using deep pressure stimulation. Because weighted blankets can help increase serotonin and melatonin while decreasing cortisol, they have been shown to promote feelings of calmness and peacefulness.
Anxiety And Sleep Research
There is, however, plenty of research on how anxiety can affect sleep and vice versa.
According to the ADAA, research shows that sleep disorders occur in almost all psychiatric disorders.
In a small 2015 study , researchers examined the relationship between cognitive behavioral therapy and sleep quality in people with anxiety. Researchers found that both sleep quality and sleep latency improved in participants who responded to CBT.
The researchers believe that targeting sleep problems during anxiety treatment might be beneficial for those who have trouble sleeping.
Its important to remember that it can take time to find the right treatment approach for your anxiety. Because of this, you and your doctor may choose to use a variety of different treatment options.
What Causes Night Time Panic Attacks
While nocturnal panic attacks can be sudden and frightening, theyre actually a common mental health condition. So what causes them?
So far, research hasnt found a single, clear-cut reason for why people experience panic attacks at night. However, we do know that the brain doesnt switch off during sleep, so its possible for any pent-up worries or anxieties to manifest in our unconscious brains, causing a nocturnal panic attack. Also, struggling with day time panic attacks makes it more likely that you will experience panic attacks at night.
Research suggests there are a number of other factors that could increase the risk of someone suffering from both day and night time panic attacks. These include:
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Give Yourself Time To Unwind
“The nervous system needs cues to let the body know it is time for sleep,” Dr. Skillicorn says. “If we go from working on a project or watching some adrenaline-pumping show to jumping into bed, we can’t really expect the body to just tune out the day’s stressors and relax.”
Before you can drift off to dreamland, your body needs downtime to decompress. Dr. Skillicorn recommends turning off your electronic devices and setting aside at least 30 minutes for relaxing activities before bed .
Try These Tactics
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.
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When To See A Doctor
Constant anxiety that makes it difficult to sleep at night can affect your daily quality of life. Your work or school performance may worsen, and you may find it hard to complete your normal daily tasks.
If anxiety and lack of sleep are affecting your life in this way, its important to reach out to a doctor or mental health specialist for help.
For some people, nighttime anxiety can lead to insomnia. Insomnia is defined as persistent trouble falling or staying asleep. Chronic insomnia can have negative health effects, including an increased risk of:
- health conditions, such as high blood pressure and a weakened immune system
- mental health conditions, such as depression
Whether your doctor makes a diagnosis of anxiety, insomnia, or both, reaching out is the first step in the treatment process.
Teapigs Snooze Sleepy Tea
Everyone has heard that chamomile tea can help you sleep. Why? Well, its commonly called a mild tranquilizer and has an antioxidant called apigenin, which binds to specific receptors in your brain that may decrease anxiety and help make you sleepy.
This sleepy tea takes chamomile up a notch by also adding in lavender, another ingredient that has been used for centuries to help calm nerves. The tea is also naturally caffeine free and, well, its simply delicious.
Is Your Child Napping Too Close To Bedtime
Naps can help us recover from sleep deprivation . They appear to have a powerful and beneficial effect on learning . And they may play an important role in early development: Babies and toddlers tend to increase their naps in the days leading up to a growth spurt .
So personally, I dont like interfering if a child takes the occasional long nap. The child might really need or benefit from the extra sleep!
But if your child is routinely taking long naps particularly naps that end in the late afternoon or evening this could be contributing to bedtime problems. Among kids older than 2 years, long naps have been linked with later bedtimes .
Hatch Rest+ Sound Machine And Nightlight
Full disclosure: The Rest+ is technically designed for kids but hear me out. When I used it, it helped me sleep better than it helped my son sleep.
My brother bought it for my son for Christmas and at the time, my son was still sleeping in a bassinet in our room, so I set up the Rest+ near my bed and it didnt take long for me to become dependent on it.
I found the sound machine features incredibly soothing, though other people might find the white noise feature more soothing.
Sound machines can give your brain something for your racing thoughts to focus on and listen to as you lay down to sleep.
The color night light might also be helpful, as you can program it to match your bedtime routine and program the light to slowly dim as you drift off to sleep.
If you prefer not to get a product meant for kids, the company also recently came out with the Hatch Restore aimed at adults specifically. It has many of these same helpful features to create a bedtime routine without any of the baby-focused ones.
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Is Your Childs Schedule Too Irregular
The practice of setting a regular bedtime is by no means universal. In many traditional cultures, the timing of sleep is flexible and opportunistic, with people making up for the occasional late night by taking naps in the day .
This approach might work for you, too, if you dont have problems meshing your work schedule with your circadian rhythms. But if your lifestyle disallows naps, or you just arent the type to take naps, then irregular bedtimes can spell trouble.
Studies of people living in industrialized countries suggest that young children who lack regular bedtimes have more behavior problems .
Get Your Worries On Paper
Calming an already-stirred up mind can be challenging, so also implement some calming practices before you even get into bed.
Dr. Whitney Roban, a clinical psychologist and family sleep specialists number one piece of advice for people suffering from night-time anxiety is to keep a journal where you can write down all those clingy thoughts.
When you get these thoughts out of your head and onto paper, there is a good chance they will not infiltrate your mind when its actually time to go to sleep, Dr. Roban says. Many people also like to make lists in their journal of the things they need to do the next day.
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Set Aside Time For Winding Down
If youve been struggling with sleep anxiety, Dr. Fran Walfish, family and relationship psychotherapist, suggests creating a routine that winds you down and gets you in the mood for sleep. This can include things like dimming the lights, listening to calming music, or taking a warm bath.
Walfish also suggests opting for activities like light reading in place of a TV or computer, as using a screen can tend to rev up anxiety and excitatory thresholds versus relax and calm you down.
The best nighttime routine allows your mind and body time to slow down before you turn off the lights. Allot at least 30 minutes to take a bath, read a book, listen to a podcast, or play quiet music. These transition rituals can condition your brain to associate certain actions with preparing for sleep.
How To Help Children And Teens Through Anxiety At Bedtime
The relationship between anxiety and sleep is a complicated one. Sleep strengthens the brain against anxiety, but anxiety at bedtime stops sleep. Anxious thoughts will intrude at bedtime when the world is still, and bodies are still, and when young minds are meant to be still but a lack of sleep will make anxiety worse, which will make sleep the next night tougher, which will make anxiety worse.
The part of the brain most sensitive to a lack of sleep is the amygdala the seat of anxiety. When the brain is tired, the amygdala will be more likely to read non-threats as threats and ready the body for fight or flight. This fuels the physical symptoms of anxiety, which will fuel anxious thoughts I feel like something bad is going to happen, so something bad must be going to happen. This will then fuel anxious behaviour fight or flight .
The intrusion from anxiety into sleep can magnify its intrusion everywhere else. Sleep is such an important part of the foundation that gives children what they need to be happy, healthy, and brave.
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How Do You Calm An Anxiety Attack At Night
Night time is often considered to be a time of relaxation, where we mentally unwind and prepare ourselves for sleep. However, it is still quite common to experience an anxiety attack at night. This page looks at the symptoms of a night-time anxiety attack and offers a range of tips on how to overcome this nocturnal disturbance.
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.
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Practice Good Sleep Hygiene
Dr. Nikki Lacherza-Drew, licensed psychologist and owner of Vici Psychological Care, suggests engaging in proper sleep hygiene to help get better sleep. Lacherza-Drew says, If you have a routine and engage in appropriate sleep hygiene on a consistent basis, your mind will be less likely to go down the rabbit hole of anxious thoughts.
Sleep hygiene refers to various habits that are necessary for good sleep quality. To practice good sleep hygiene, Lacherza-Drew suggests:
- No major physical activity or heavy meals close to bedtime
- No caffeine or alcohol near bedtime or after a certain time in the afternoon
Other easy ways to practice good sleep hygiene include:
- Soaking up the morning sun
- Limiting power naps to 20 minutes
- Keeping your bedroom dark and cool
- Following a consistent bedtime routine
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.
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But The Fears Might Make No Sense At All
When fears feel too big, such as fear of losing a parent, or waking up to a burning home, children might turn this fear into something else, such as witches or monsters under the bed. Its a way to give voice to the feelings and fears that are too big for words. The content of the fears might not be valid, but the feelings will always be so thats what we need to speak to.
I can see how scared you are. I would be scared too if I was thinking about monsters under the bed! You are completely safe. I would never leave you if I didnt believe you are safe.
Anxiety Dreams: How To Sleep Better
Medically Reviewed By: Whitney White, MS. CMHC, NCC., LPC
Many books have been written on the topic of interpreting dreams. Its nice when you can lay your head down on the pillow and drift off to dreamland within minutes. Unfortunately, it doesnt work that way or that well for everyone.
Have you ever gone through a period of time that no matter what you try, you just cant get to sleep? Counting sheep, reading a book, listening to music, nothing seems to relax you enough to help you drift off. Maybe you have a spouse that starts snoring as soon as their head hits the pillow and it makes you feel resentful. You may be so anxious you cant sleep or youre having trouble sleeping because youre anxious. Stress and anxiety can literally keep you up all night.
Science and research have attempted to explain various things about our sleep routines and habits. To date, even the best researchers dont fully understand how dreams work. Many people try to interpret their own dreams, and that too is only somewhat successful.
According to the National Institutes of Health, over 40 million Americans have long-term, serious sleep disorders. Another 20 million people say they have sleep problems at least occasionally.
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