Reason #: Poor Sleep Cycle
According to Lawson, insomnia and anxiety share a strong relationship, meaning sleep problems or insomnia can cause anxiety and vice versa.
If youve always been anxious or struggled to fall asleep, you may have developed a pattern of poor or interrupted sleep. This makes your body most susceptible to stress and insomnia. Types of Anxiety Disorders
Research also shows that sleep disorders occur in almost all psychiatric and anxiety disorders. Some of these include:
- Generalized anxiety disorder: Worry over everyday events, making it difficult to relax.
- Social anxiety disorder: The anticipation of social situations can often prevent sleep at night.
- Compulsive-obsessive disorder: Research suggests that intrusive thoughts and fears can keep people up when theyre trying to fall asleep.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder: The constant re-experiencing of traumatic events can induce nightmares and rob people of sleep.
How Common Are Anxiety Disorders
|Adults Affected in U.S.||Percentage of U.S. Adult Population|
|Generalized Anxiety Disorder|
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.
Do A Bedroom Makeover
Another helpful trick is to make your bedroom a place for nothing but sleep. For some people living in small loft apartments, this might be tricky, but by putting up a divider or curtain, you may be able to simulate a similar separate room effect.
Regardless, redecorating your bedroom for a more comfortable and quiet environment can do wonders for your sleep health. Consider decluttering the room and regularly changing the bedding or adding a rug to make the space more appealing and comfortable.
If you come into your bedroom and still cant sleep, dont just lay there and wait for slumber to hit. Instead, get up after 15 minutes and work on some small projects until your body naturally feels sleepy.
Reason #: 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.
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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Fears Related To Sleep Apnea
Still others are fretful about sleep because they have health conditions. People who have sleep apnea for example, sometimes fear that theyâll stop breathing in their sleep.
âOnce the apnea is under control, people sleep better knowing theyâre not waking up multiple times a night,â Harris says.
So what can you do to eliminate the fear of sleep? Hereâs what experts suggest:
Good Daytime Habits For Relieving Nighttime Stress
In addition to relaxation techniques, there are steps you can take during the day to relieve stress at night. A common aid is to exercise during the day. In addition to other health benefits, daytime exercise has been linked to better sleep in patients with generalized anxiety disorders. Exercise can also assist with issues such as insomnia. Another strategy for sleep hygiene overall is to wake up at a regular time. Even on the weekends, research shows that consistent wake times are an important component of sleep hygiene.
Keep in mind there is no exact schedule for how quickly youll be able to feel less stressed and anxious before going to sleep. However, consistent practice of relaxing techniques can help long-term. If you have questions or concerns about which strategy or strategies are right for you, consult your physician.
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How To Lower Stress Levels To Improve Sleep
While there are a few chronic sleep conditions that may require medical intervention, like sleep apnoea and insomnia, if your sleep loss is due to stress, there are some things you can do to help yourself. Check out some of these tips and tricks to relieving stress and incorporate a few of them into your daily life, to see if you notice any difference in sleep quality.
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.
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Settle Into Your Routines
When it comes to sleep, routine is your best friend.
- Eating at the same time every day helps regulate your circadian rhythms.
- Eating breakfast signals that its time for your body to wake up.
- Regular daytime exercise releases endorphins and decreases levels of cortisol, the hormone behind stress.
- Going to bed at the same time every night teaches your body to get sleepy around the same time.
But if you want to lessen nighttime anxiety, its still important to implement a specific nighttime routine.
You cant expect to go from 100 mph and then suddenly stop, Dr. Albers says. Instead, institute a 30-minute transition between bedtime and the rest of your day.
Try quiet, tech-free activities that reduce your cortisol levels and help ease you into sleep, such as:
- Taking a bath.
- Doing yoga stretches.
How To Calm Anxiety And Get Better Sleep
Although the impacts of anxiety disorders can be substantial, they are one of the most treatable mental health disorders. This doesnt mean that reducing anxiety is always simple, but there are treatments that can help.
Any person who has persistent or significant anxiety and/or sleeping problems should talk with a doctor who can best assess their situation and discuss the benefits and downsides of the potential treatment options in their case.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is a common treatment for anxiety disorders. It is a type of talk therapy that works to reorient negative thinking, and it has had success in decreasing anxiety. Studies have found that CBT can often reduce anxiety even in people who have insomnia. Addressing anxiety can pave the way for better sleep, but severe cases of insomnia may persist after CBT for anxiety. CBT for insomnia may be a useful next step in these cases.
Several different types of medications are approved to treat anxiety disorders including anti-anxiety drugs, antidepressants, and beta-blockers. These medications are intended to mitigate symptoms rather than cure the underlying anxiety.
Because of the multifaceted relationship between anxiety and sleep, getting better rest may help combat feelings of anxiety. Building healthy sleep habits can make going to bed a more pleasant experience and facilitate a consistent routine to enhance sleep.
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Try To Go To Bed Around The Same Time Every Night Even On Weekends
Each of us are equipped with a 24-hour internal body clock known as our circadian rhythm that tells our mind when to rest and when to be alert, but it craves consistency, says Bill Fish, a sleep science coach and general manager at The Sleep Foundation.
If you made a concerted effort to go to bed within a 20-minute window each night, get your 8 hours of sleep, and wake within the same 20-minute window each morning, you will gradually train your body, and will make it much easier to get to sleep each night, especially when dealing with anxiety, Fish says.
Its important to wake up at the same time every day too, even if you have a bad nights sleep.
We often think we should catch up on sleep over the weekend or if we have a bad night of sleep, says Annie Miller, a licensed social worker and behavioral sleep medicine provider based in Washington, D.C. But in fact, that can make insomnia worse by creating whats called social jetlag.
It is important to keep your wake time consistent and understand that you may be tired in the short term, but this will build up sleep drive and eventually allow you to fall asleep faster, she explains.
Write Out Your Worries
The number-one thing that keeps me awake at night? My own thoughts.Sometimes they’re anxious thoughts, sometimes they’re negative thoughts, and other times it’s a rapid stream of consciousness that I can’t turn off.When this happens, I force myself to write down every single thing I’m thinking in a physical notebook. Not a computer or phone, but old-fashioned pen and paper.I simply write down any thoughts that come to mind, especially the negative ones. As soon as I put just one to paper, they all seem to come pouring out of me. Don’t hold back no one has to see what you’re writing.But the result is like draining grease out of a pan. I often marvel at how this simple, five-minute exercise makes me feel instantly sleepy, as if I spent the day taking care of all my problems while running a marathon. I feel lighter, and once I’m in bed, my mind is gloriously quiet.
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Listen To Soothing Music
Listening to music can have a very relaxing effect on the body.
Slow-paced instrumental music can induce the relaxation response by helping lower blood pressure and heart rate as well as stress hormones.
Some types of classical, Celtic, Native American and Indian music can be particularly soothing, but simply listening to the music you enjoy is effective too .
Nature sounds can also be very calming. This is why theyre often incorporated into relaxation and meditation music.
As Usual Regular Exercise Is The Key To Basically Everythingincluding Anxiety
Regular, moderate exercise is the most effective treatment for insomnia, Rutt says. And Hershenberg agrees. If you wear yourself out earlier in the day, youre more likely to fall asleep when your head hits the pillow.
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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 Are The Best Weighted Blanket Brands
As someone whos always had trouble falling asleep and staying asleep a weighted blanket has helped me immensely in staying calm and relaxed at night. I get up less in the middle of the night, have stopped tossing and turning, and wake up feeling more refreshed and less groggy. Here are five of my favorite weighted blankets to try right now.
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Increase Your Exposure To Daylight
If you work inside a dark office during the day or live in the northern hemisphere, you might not be getting enough daylight and your sleep might be affected.
Studies have shown that exposure to sunlight or bright indoor lights during the morning hours helps people sleep better at night.Adequate daylight is also shown to decrease depression and stress.
Help calibrate your circadian rhythm by making sure you get lots of daylight and if you cant, consider investing in a light therapy device to keep near you, during the day.
What Are The Best Weighted Blankets
The best weighted blankets use light pressure to keep your body stable and supported in bed, preventing the dreaded tossing and turning that often keeps you awake. Most weighted blankets are constructed with a quilt-like design, with patches or pockets that contain thousands of tiny glass beads inside. Like a bean bag pillow or heating pad, the glass beads are evenly dispersed throughout the blanket, and help to form a gentle seal around your joints and limbs. .
These days, manufacturers are also making new weighted blankets that forgo the beads in favor of using the natural weight of the materials. One of our favorite blankets is made from a thick knit, that gets all its weight from the chunky cotton yard used in its construction.
A good weighted blanket should feel heavy, so itll take a few nights to get used to it. That said, the best weighted blankets are also made with breathable materials, so youll never feel suffocated or sweaty underneath. Look for blankets that are machine-washable too, so you can easily keep it clean.
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
Learn To Avoid Procrastination
Another way to take control of your stress is to stay on top of your priorities and stop procrastinating.
Procrastination can lead you to act reactively, leaving you scrambling to catch up. This can cause stress, which negatively affects your health and sleep quality .
Get in the habit of making a to-do list organized by priority. Give yourself realistic deadlines and work your way down the list.
Work on the things that need to get done today and give yourself chunks of uninterrupted time, as switching between tasks or multitasking can be stressful itself.
Prioritize what needs to get done and make time for it. Staying on top of your to-do list can help ward off procrastination-related stress.
Yoga has become a popular method of stress relief and exercise among all age groups.
While yoga styles differ, most share a common goal to join your body and mind.
Yoga primarily does this by increasing body and breath awareness.
Some studies have examined yogas effect on mental health. Overall, research has found that yoga can enhance mood and may even be as effective as antidepressant drugs at treating depression and anxiety .
However, many of these studies are limited, and there are still questions about how yoga works to achieve stress reduction.
In general, the benefit of yoga for stress and anxiety seems to be related to its effect on your nervous system and stress response.
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