Whats Causing Your Insomnia
- Are you under a lot of stress?
- Are you depressed? Do you feel emotionally flat or hopeless?
- Do you struggle with chronic feelings of anxiety or worry?
- Have you recently gone through a traumatic experience?
- Are you taking any medications that might be affecting your sleep?
- Do you have any health problems that may be interfering with sleep?
- Is your bedroom quiet and comfortable?
- Do you try to go to bed and get up around the same time every day?
Suggestions For Improving Sleep
There are several strategies for helping you avoid behaviors that get in the way of good sleep. You can develop good sleep habits by practicing some of the below:
- Relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises and progressive muscle relaxation can help reduce anxiety at bedtime. Other relaxation techniques include taking a warm bath or meditating prior to going to bed.
- Controlling stimuli such as using the bedroom for sleep only and not allowing other stimuli such as electronics in. This will help you dissociate your bed as a place of busy activity.
- Setting a consistent bedtime and wake-up time can help you train yourself for consistent sleep.
- Avoiding naps and similar sleep restrictions can make you feel more tired at bedtime which can help improve insomnia for some people.
- Avoiding stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine close to bedtime can help you be physically ready for sleep. Your doctor might also recommend avoiding alcohol close to bedtime.
Your doctor may suggest other strategies tailored to your sleep environment and lifestyle that will help you learn and develop habits that will promote healthy sleep.
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.
Read Also: How To Cure Sexual Anxiety
Can Insomnia Also Cause Anxiety
Yes, it can. If you have insomnia, you may become anxious about your lack of sleep. One study on teenagers found that sleep problems started before their anxiety disorders almost a third of the time.
Researchers have also found that the brains of people who havent slept well look very similar to the brains of people with anxiety disorders. The sleep-deprived brain produces more stress hormones like cortisol, which can make you feel more on edge.
So, insomnia can come before anxiety disorders or make the symptoms of anxiety disorders worse. The two can also feed off each other. If you have enough sleepless nights over time, you may start to worry that you wont ever get good sleep, which can lead to more anxiety and more insomnia.
How To Sleep When Stressed
Stress management is key to a good nights sleep, and how well you manage stress can depend on your day-to-day lifestyle. In addition to following a balanced diet and exercising throughout the week, you can alleviate stress through controlled breathing and other relaxation techniques. A healthy work-life balance is also important, as is your ability to productively release stress during situations that cause stress, and not at other moments.
Laying in bed when you are too stressed to sleep can be counterproductive. If you havent gone to sleep within 15 minutes of going to bed, try getting up and relocating to another area of your residence for a relaxing activity such as reading, meditating, or listening to calming music avoid watching TV or other activities that involve blue light devices.
Some people also experience anxiety when they wake up in the middle of the night and see the time on their bedside clock. Avoid looking at your clock if you wake up cover the display if necessary.
Also Check: How To Help Kids With Anxiety
Check If You Have Insomnia
You have insomnia if you regularly:
- find it hard to go to sleep
- wake up several times during the night
- lie awake at night
- wake up early and cannot go back to sleep
- still feel tired after waking up
- find it hard to nap during the day even though you’re tired
- feel tired and irritable during the day
- find it difficult to concentrate during the day because you’re tired
If you have insomnia for a short time its called short-term insomnia. Insomnia that lasts 3 months or longer is called long-term insomnia.
Why Anxiety Affects Sleep
Anneli Roberts, 28, has anxiety and has had trouble sleeping since she was 16.
“During particularly difficult periods of anxiety, I am regularly up until 3 or 4 am, which is obviously not very good for work,” she says.
“Mostly, my insomnia is caused by anxiety and I’m unable to sleep due to worrying – or sometimes the physical symptoms of anxiety can keep me up too. But after a night of being awake, I am far more prone to anxiety during the day.”
Professor Kevin Morgan, of the University of Loughboroughs Clinical Sleep Research Unit, explains why anxiety impacts sleep.
“Anxiety in a generalised sense creates what we will refer to as arousal, or excitement or alertness,” he says. “If you go to bed intending to go to sleep, but you are anxious – and it doesn’t really matter what you pin that anxiety to – you’ve already diminished your chances of falling asleep effectively.”
You May Like: How To Cure Performance Anxiety
What Are The Types Of Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety is a core element of a number of specific disorders, although not all are categorized strictly as anxiety disorders.
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder : People with GAD have significant, looming worries about many different things that can cause an overarching sense of anxiety.
- Panic Disorder: Extremely intense episodes of fear, known as panic attacks, that usually last for a few minutes at a time are the defining feature of Panic Disorder.
- Social Anxiety Disorder: This disorder involves an extreme fear of social settings and potential embarrassment in front of other people.
- Specific Phobias: Specific phobias are intense fears caused by particular triggers. Some of the most common specific phobias include agoraphobia and separation anxiety.
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder : In OCD, a person obsesses about an issue in a negative way such that it provokes anxiety, and this causes a compulsion, which is their attempt to control or eliminate that anxiety. Compulsions are repeated ritually and can directly impact everyday activities.
- Post-traumatic Stress Disorder : This condition can arise after a person is exposed to a painful or disturbing situation. People with PTSD may relive the stressful event, feel on-edge, and have potentially debilitating anxiety.
Cognitive And Behavioural Treatments
If changing your sleeping habits doesn’t help, your GP may be able to refer you for a type of cognitive behavioural therapy that’s specifically designed for people with insomnia .
The aim of CBT-I is to change unhelpful thoughts and behaviours that may be contributing to your insomnia. It’s an effective treatment for many people and can have long-lasting results.
CBT-I may include:
- stimulus-control therapy which aims to help you associate the bedroom with sleep and establish a consistent sleep/wake pattern
- sleep restriction therapy limiting the amount of time spent in bed to the actual amount of time spent asleep, creating mild sleep deprivation sleep time is then increased as your sleeping improves
- relaxation training aims to reduce tension or minimise intrusive thoughts that may be interfering with sleep
- paradoxical intention you try to stay awake and avoid any intention of falling asleep it’s used if you have trouble getting to sleep, but not maintaining sleep
- biofeedback sensors connected to a machine are placed on your body to measure your body’s functions, such as muscle tension and heart rate the machine produces pictures or sounds to help you recognise when you’re not relaxed
CBT-I is sometimes carried out by a specially trained GP. Alternatively, you may be referred to a clinical psychologist.
Also Check: What Is Test Taking 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.
Was this article helpful?
Donât Miss: What Does An Anxiety Headache Feel Like
Should I Use Cbd To Treat My Insomnia
CBD , a chemical from Cannabis plants, is advertised as a treatment for anxiety and insomnia . Several studies have looked at the use of CBD to treat both anxiety and insomnia. The results have been somewhat positive:
In one study, researchers asked adults with anxiety or poor sleep to take CBD and then assessed their anxiety and sleep quality over time. After the first month, anxiety scores improved in 79% of adults, and sleep scores improved in 67% of adults. The average anxiety score kept improving over the 3 months of the study, but the average sleep score only improved for the first 2 months and then got worse in the third month.
Another study found that CBD is a potential treatment for insomnia, but it cautioned that research in this area is not very advanced and has had some mixed results.
There are a couple things to be aware of when it comes to CBD. First, its not approved by the FDA, so its not regulated. That means you cant be sure that the amount of CBD on a label is what youre actually getting. CBD doesnt cause a high like tetrahydrocannabinol , another chemical compound found in Cannabis plants. But many CBD products may contain more THC than advertised, and THC can trigger anxiety.
To learn more about CBD and anxiety, see our post here.
Recommended Reading: How To Relieve Pms Anxiety
Validate Fears Encourage Bravery
Dr. Loiterstein says the idea is to empathize and validate the childs fear. Start by saying, I understand youre feeling scared and thats a really hard feeling, and then encourage bravery. So, a parent could tell their child they understand it can feel really frightening to sleep in ones own room, and then explain theyre going to practice going to sleep in steps to overcome this worry. Let them know you are very confident that they can do it.
What You Can Do About It
There are a number of things you can try to help yourself get a good night’s sleep if you have insomnia.
- setting regular times for going to bed and waking up
- relaxing before bed time try taking a warm bath or listening to calming music
- using thick curtains or blinds, an eye mask and earplugs to stop you being woken up by light and noise
- avoiding caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, heavy meals and exercise for a few hours before going to bed
- not watching TV or using phones, tablets or computers shortly before going to bed
- not napping during the day
- writing a list of your worries, and any ideas about how to solve them, before going to bed to help you forget about them until the morning
Some people find over-the-counter sleeping tablets helpful, but they don’t address the underlying problem and can have troublesome side effects.
Read more self-help tips for insomnia
Don’t Miss: How To Slow Heart Rate Down Anxiety
Minimize Dependence Reward Bravery
Some kids get into the habit of falling asleep fine on their own but wake up in the middle of the night and go to their parents bedroom.
They like to have these interactions with their parents, Dr. Loiterstein says. Its their comfort zone. She says the best thing when that happens is to bring them back to their own bed as soon as possible.
We dont want to reinforce this interaction and make it more likely that the kid is going to want to come in every night, she says. We want to minimize the reward theyre getting from their parents bedroom. A reward system for their bravery can be used here, as well.
Is It Anxiety Or Insomnia
Although both anxiety and insomnia share similarities, some differences do exist between the conditions. Below is a side-by-side comparison of the two conditions:
If you suspect that you have both anxiety and insomnia, its important to mention both conditions to your doctor.
Sleep and anxiety have a strong relationship, so it may take more than one doctors visit to diagnose the disorders. Its essential to express any concerns about how anxiety and sleeplessness may affect your day-to-day performance and quality of life.
Treating sleep problems without taking steps to manage anxiety and reduce stress and vice versa is unlikely to have any significant impact.
Don’t Miss: How To Break The Cycle Of Health Anxiety
Be Organised And Prepare For The Next Day
If you regularly go to bed feeling anxious about the upcoming day, make sure that you prepare for it the evening before. This can help to reduce your worries as you know everything is in hand for the next morning. You could try making a to-do list so you know youve got everything covered before you go to bed, and even have your clothes ironed and laid out ready for morning.
Dietary Supplements For Insomnia
There are many dietary and herbal supplements marketed for their sleep-promoting effects. Although they may be described as natural, be aware that sleep remedies can still have side effects and interfere with other medications or vitamins youre taking. For more information, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.
You May Like: How To Get Out Of An Anxiety Attack
Write Down Your Worries On Paper
According to Juanita Wells, director of clinical development at New Method Wellness, putting your thoughts down on paper can help us remain accountable to ourselves, our feelings, our purpose, and plan.
Instead of letting thoughts and to-dos swirl around in your brain, write them down so that your brain has a game plan for the following day. Wells says that writing down your anxious feelings, especially through stream-of-consciousness journaling , can help ease anxiety before bed.
In addition to calming pre-bedtime anxiety, research shows that journaling can also help you fall asleep more quickly. To get started journaling, just snuggle up with your notebook and some cozy pillows and let your thoughts take it away.