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How To Deal With Sleep Anxiety

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Reason #1: Too Much Focus On The Day

Nighttime anxiety can be caused by over-focusing on stress before sleep. Knott says that this is because our body can perceive work stress, relationship issues, and social contact as dangerous, and prepare us to fight or flee. Being fixated on your worries during the day and anticipating stressful activities for the next day will make it more difficult for your mind to relax.

Sleep Anxiety Tips: How To Calm Anxiety At Night

*This article is for general information purposes only and is not intended as medical or other professional advice. Visit the links within the text for sources. Casper has not independently verified the sources. While some of us may toss and turn some nights, every night can be a restless night for others. If youve ever struggled with sleep anxiety, you know the feeling of anxiously watching the clock as you worry about not being able to fall asleep and waking up sleep-deprived the next day. There are many that reveal Americans struggle to sleep on a regular basis. As it turns out, anxiety and sleep are connected in a number of ways. Fifty percent of those who are sleep-deprived say that their anxiety impacts their ability to sleep at night. Its important to understand how anxiety can affect your ability to get a good nights rest. This guide covers what sleep anxiety is, the effects of anxiety-induced sleep deprivation, and science-backed tips for decreasing anxious thoughts, as well as how to set yourself up for better sleep.

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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Relieving Anxiety That Keeps You From Falling Or Staying Asleep

If sleep worries are getting in the way of your ability to unwind at night, the following strategies may help. The goal is to train your body to associate the bed with sleep and nothing elseespecially not frustration and anxiety.

Use the bedroom only for sleeping and sex. With many of us working from home now, it can be difficult to avoid, but if possible dont work, use your computer, or watch TV in your bedroom. The goal is to associate the bedroom with sleep alone, so that your brain and body get a strong signal that its time to nod off when you get into bed.

Move bedroom clocks out of view. Anxiously watching the minutes tick by when you cant sleepknowing that youre going to be exhausted when the alarm goes offis a surefire recipe for insomnia. You can use an alarm, but make sure you cant see the time when youre in bed.

Get out of bed when you cant sleep. Dont try to force yourself to sleep. Tossing and turning only amps up your anxiety. Get up, leave the bedroom, and do something relaxing, such as reading, , or taking a bath. When youre sleepy, go back to bed.

Are You Sleep Deprived

How To Deal With Sleep Anxiety

Once you know what to look for, sleep deprivation becomes pretty apparent. For instance, if you feel thirsty, hungry, mentally foggy, or forgetful, you could be sleep deprived. The same holds true if you feel aggressive. If you feel sleepy while driving, or drowsy during the day, even during boring activities, you haven’t had enough sleep. Furthermore, if you often fall asleep within five minutes of your head hitting the pillow, you are probably suffering from severe sleep deprivation.

Have A Bedtime Routine If Youd Like But Dont Freak Out If Its Different Each Night

A routine establishes a positive conditioning for sleep, says Tal. When you start your routine, your body gets the “hint” and starts to initiate the mechanisms for sleep.

It was important for me, however, to realize that Im someone who might be unmoored by obsessing over the ritual of what I do each night. During treatment, I liked to take a shower, have a warm glass of milk with honey and do some type of relaxing activity. Early on I found that if I didn’t do something exactly as I’d done it the night before, I would grow anxious over my ability to fall asleep that night. And then boom, no sleep. Instead, I now keep the overall framework of a nighttime routine but have let go of the specifics. One night, I may watch 20 minutes of a TV show, another I might read 10 pages of a book. I’ve done this so my brain doesn’t associate the particular ordering of activities with sleep. For me, the ritual was about relaxation, not rigidity.

Discuss Your Concerns With A Therapist

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.

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, 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.

Take A Tip From Your Kids With A Strict Bedtime Routine

We know how important it is for children to have a nighttime routine as it creates a sensed of structure and security, well the same goes for adults especially if you suffer from anxiety, says Bianca L. Rodriguez, a psychotherapist and spiritual coach. A bedtime routine can help you self soothe and act as a container for your anxiety. I recommend taking a warm bath or shower before bed to relax your muscles as the state of your body impacts the activity in your mind. Imagining frustrations, negative energy or worries flowing down the drain can help you approach sleep feeling more clear and calm.

What Is The Difference Between Somniphobia And Insomnia

The two issues are similar, but not interchangeable. Somniphobia is an anxiety disorder and a sense of fear that keeps people from sleeping even when they are tired. Common fears that fuel this problem are connected to health problems, the idea of dying, worrying about nightmares or nighttime behaviors.

, on the other hand, is a chronic sleep disorder that makes it difficult for people to fall asleep or stay asleep. Insomniacs tend to stay awake late, or wake up early, no longer feeling sleepy.

How Anxiety Affects Sleep

Sleep problems caused by anxiety arent limited to people with diagnosed anxiety disorders.

The spectrum ranges from everyday kind of problems that might make us anxious and affect sleep all the way to people diagnosed with anxiety disorders who are likely to have ongoing problems, Dr. Neubauer said.

Anxiety can affect sleep at any time, but most commonly causes difficulty in falling asleep. People with higher levels of anxiety may feel anxious all the time and have trouble staying asleep. In general, Neubauer said, the risk for awakening in the night parallels the degree of anxiety.

People with persistent also become anxious about sleep, he said. The more anxious they are about sleep, that undermines the ability to sleep well, and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

In fact, a June 2013 study in the Journal of Neuroscience suggests that sleep deprivation contributes to anxiety by heightening peoples anticipatory and stress-inducing response processes.

Tips For Improving Sleep And Managing Anxiety

Move your body Exercise has been found to both lower anxiety and improve sleep. But try not to exercise right before sleep, as it can keep you awake. Moving your body in the morning or afternoon can help you get your sleeping and waking cycle back on track and also treat insomnia or sleep apnea.3

Tailor your environment Controlling light, sound, and temperature can help you get a good nights rest. The darker, quieter, and cooler you can keep your bedroom, the greater chance you have of calming your mind and falling asleep. Taking a shower or bath shortly before bed can also help lower your body temperature and help you fall asleep more quickly.

Limit caffeine and alcohol Drinking too much caffeine or consuming it too late in the day can increase anxiety and inhibit sleep. Consuming alcohol close to bedtime can also increase your heart rate and keep you up.4 Drink plenty of water throughout the day, but dont drink too much before bedtime, as trips to the bathroom can keep you anxious and alert.

Calm your mind There are many relaxation techniques that can help you calm your mind throughout the day and improve sleep. Mindfulness meditation, yoga, and breathing exercise can help you achieve calm, but it can also be as simple as taking a walk when you have a short break at work. If you practice techniques for calming your mind during the day, then it will be easier to trigger your relaxation response at night.

Think Of Sleep As A Flaky Friend

How to deal with separation anxiety in children

Tal introduced the metaphor of the “flaky friend” they might come over if they’re free tonight or they might not. And sure, you’ll hang if they’re in the neighborhood, but you’re not going to send them any pleading texts; it wouldnt help anyway. Reframing sleep as something that “if it happens, great, if not, no biggie,” helps to readjust our relationship to sleep. Sleep is a natural process; it doesn’t get better with effort in the same way blinking or swallowing don’t get better with effort.

This can be especially hard for those of us with obsessive tendencies and a need for control. How we think about this issue has a direct effect on the issue, which can feel like a perpetually losing game. It’s like if someone says, “don’t think of a white elephant,” it’ll be the first image that pops into your head.

One of my main issues was hypnic awareness being too aware of the moment youre falling asleep, which then led to a hyperarousal state and feelings of, Ill notice this forever and never sleep again. I tried to minimize my perception of it, which didnt really work, and also meant I was still trying to do something. The best course of action, I found, was to notice it and then not care, because, really, our brains are weird and beautiful and highly evolved, and sometimes they get stuck on processes that should be automatic.

Falling Asleep With Anxiety

Worries keeping you up at night? Anxiety and sleep problems can feed off each other, but practicing relaxation and sound sleep habits can stop the cycle.

Jennifer WarnerFarrokh Sohrabi, MD

Does your mind race as soon your head hits the pillow? Does anxiety over work, money, or relationships keep you from going to sleep?

Its normal to be anxious from time to time. But when anxiety and emotional problems routinely get in the way of a good nights sleep, its time to take action before a potentially dangerous cycle begins.

Its really like a circular pattern — emotional problems can affect sleep, and lack of sleep can affect peoples emotions, said David Neubauer, MD, an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins Medicine and associate director at the Johns Hopkins Sleep Disorders Center in Baltimore, Md. There is quite a bit of overlap between symptoms of insomnia and anxiety and other mood disorders.

Treating Insomnia With A Better Sleep Environment And Routine

Two powerful weapons in the fight against insomnia are a quiet, comfortable bedroom and a relaxing bedtime routine. Both can make a big difference in improving the quality of your sleep.

Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, and cool. Noise, light, a bedroom thats too hot or cold, or an uncomfortable mattress or pillow can all interfere with sleep. Try using a sound machine or earplugs to mask outside noise, an open window or fan to keep the room cool, and blackout curtains or an eye mask to block out light. Experiment with different levels of mattress firmness, foam toppers, and pillows that provide the support you need to sleep comfortably.

Stick to a regular sleep schedule. Support your biological clock by going to bed and getting up at the same time every day, including weekends. Get up at your usual time in the morning even if youre tired. This will help you get back in a regular sleep rhythm.

Turn off all screens at least an hour before bed. Electronic screens emit a blue light that disrupts your bodys production of melatonin and combats sleepiness. So instead of watching TV or spending time on your phone, tablet, or computer, choose another relaxing activity, such as reading a book or listening to soft music.

Avoid stimulating activity and stressful situations before bedtime. This includes checking messages on social media, big discussions or arguments with your spouse or family, or catching up on work. Postpone these things until the morning.

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. 

Why Anxiety Increases At Night

Theres no one easy explanation as to why anxiety increases at night for some people. Instead, it can be the result of a variety of factors.

One explanation is that when the lights go out and all is quiet, there is less distraction and more opportunity for worry and about your career, finances, or relationships. Difficulty falling asleep may also unleash its own set of worries about how well you’ll be able to function the following day.

Other reasons why anxiety increases at night may include:

  • Drinking too much caffeine during the day or close to bedtime, which can make some people jittery and more anxious
  • Experiencing a recent trauma or having pre-existing post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Health anxiety, or noticing aches and pains more while trying to fall asleep
  • Having certain medical conditions; one study linked nighttime anxiety to menopause, for example
  • Worry or fear over the next day

Avoid Stressful Activities Before Bed

Amber Weiss, licensed psychotherapist and founder of Transformative Mindset, says, Creating some form of a transition from daytime to sleeping is highly recommended. According to Weiss, you cant expect the mind to go to sleep on demand. Instead, you need to allow time for the brain to transition, just like we transition to go outside or when we get home. 

The goal is to reduce the nervous thoughts in your head so your mind is clear, calm, and positive before you head off to sleep. This can entail leaving the office, work, news, and social media exchanges for earlier in the day to create buffer time between work and sleep, setting yourself up for better rest. 

Causes Of Anxiety Before Sleep

Everyone experiences anxiety differently. Those that have anxiety when falling asleep may have that problem for their own unique reason. Some of the causes include:

These are only an introduction to the different issues that may cause anxiety when falling asleep. There are a variety of other reasons why a person with anxiety may struggle to fall asleep including something as simple as what you ate or drank before going to bed.

Effects and Symptoms of Nighttime Anxiousness

Anxiousness, when you are trying to get to sleep, causes both mental and physical struggles. See if these descriptions of the types of problems encountered by anxiety sufferers trying to get to sleep match up to your own experiences.

    If you are experiencing any of these symptoms when trying to sleep, you should take the steps outlined below to help you escape the torture of being too anxious to get a good night’s sleep.

    How To Get Rid Of Anxiety So You Can Sleep Better

    If youre struggling to fall asleep due to anxiety, it could be that treating the anxiety will help solve your insomnia and lack of sleep as well. Anxiety disorders should only be diagnosed by a licensed therapist or medical professional, and these professionals can also help you find treatment regimens as well as, potentially, medications to control the condition. You should not try to self-medicate for anxiety disorders, and should only medicate per the medical advice and supervision of a psychiatrist.

    Therapy

    One of the most common and effective treatments for anxiety disorders is continued and guided therapy with a professional counselor or therapist.

    The branch of therapy known as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can be effective for many people, as it helps patients suffering from anxiety disorders create new, positive thought pathways that can help when in anxious situations. There are three different types of CBT, each with an individualized approach in treatment, including interpersonal therapy, thought records, and modern exposure therapy.

    Another form of therapy is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, also known as ACT. This form of therapy is more focused on mindfulness training and taking action based on personal values, and is unique in that it is not focused on symptom reduction.

    Mindfulness

    Shifting Your Perspective

     

    What Are The Symptoms Of Sleep Anxiety

    Sleep And Anxiety Treatment Is Helping Children Cope With ...

    When you cant sleep due to anxiety, you may experience behavioral changes, including:

    • Feelings of being overwhelmed.
    • Tense muscles.
    • Trembling.

    Some people also have nocturnal panic attacks. A panic attack is a sudden, intense burst of extreme fear. Nocturnal panic attacks only happen at night, and often wake you from sleep.

    Prepare For The Next Day

    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.

    How Common Are Anxiety Disorders

    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.

    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 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 , Edlund says.

    Tips For Beating Anxiety To Get A Better Nights Sleep

    Many people with anxiety disorders have trouble sleeping. That’s a problem. Too little sleep affects mood, contributing to irritability and sometimes depression. Vital functions occur during different stages of sleep that leave you feeling rested and energized or help you learn and forge memories. Sleep usually improves when an anxiety disorder is treated. Practicing good “sleep hygiene” helps, too. Here are some steps to take:

    For additional tips and strategies for living with anxiety, buy , a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School. 

    A Better Wayhow To Get Through A Panic Attack

    Lie on your back and bring all your attention to your body, Rains says. Begin a process of gently tightening and releasing each muscle group, starting with your feet and working your way upwards to the top of your head. Hold each muscle as tightly as you can for about five seconds, then release it completely and see if you can notice the difference between the muscle tightened and the muscle relaxed. Move onto the next muscle until you’ve relaxed your entire body. Any time your mind wanders, gently bring your attention back to the tightening and releasing of each muscle group.

    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.

    How Can Medication Treat Sleep Anxiety

    Your healthcare provider may recommend medication to treat anxiety or other mental health disorders. Medication can also help improve the symptoms of sleep-related disorders such as restless legs syndrome or insomnia.

    But some medications might actually increase your anxiety or make sleeping harder when you first start taking them. If you experience these side effects, talk to your healthcare provider. Many over-the-counter sleep aids can also be habit-forming. Dont start any medication for anxiety or sleep without your healthcare providers supervision.

    How Can I Teach My Child To Get Over Their Fears

    Simple Steps to Help You Cope With Anxiety

    Teach your child skills to get over their fears. For example:

    • discuss ways to respond to nighttime fears, such as by ‘being brave’ and thinking positive thoughts
    • tell your child how you deal with something that frightens you

    You can also try reading stories about children who are afraid and conquer their fears.

    For example, for younger kids:

    • ‘David and the worry beast: Helping children cope with anxiety’ by Anne Marie Guanci  
    • ‘The huge bag of worries’ by Virginia Ironside  

    For older kids:

    • ‘Mind your mind’ by Leigh Hay and Julie Johansen
    • ‘What to do when you’re scared and worried’ by James J. Crist

    Anxiety And Sleep Research

    There is, however, plenty of research on how anxiety can affect sleep and vice versa.

    According to the ADAA, 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.

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