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How To Fall Asleep With Anxiety And Insomnia

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Get To Know Your Chronotype

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

Your chronotype is your body’s natural inclination to sleep and be awake at certain times: Typically, you’re either a morning type, evening type or neither.

Your chronotype is partly determined by genetics, but it can be modified by age, activity, your environment and the change of seasons, according to an October 2018 review in Nature of Science and Sleep.

And getting on a sleep schedule that suits your chronotype can benefit your snoozes. For instance, if your body intuitively rises when it gets light outside, consider adjusting your bedtime accordingly so you can get enough shut-eye before your natural wake-up.

“The reason is important is that by waking up at the same time each day, your body does two things: It turns off the melatonin faucet in your head, which stops the sleep process, and lowers brain fog,” says Michael J. Breus, PhD, board-certified sleep specialist and clinical psychologist. “It also sets a timer for when melatonin should start the sleep process so you get in bed just as your brain is ready to sleep this will speed up your sleep onset latency quite a bit.”

On the flip side, adapting a sleep cycle that isn’t in line with your natural rhythms can mess with your sleep quality and your ability to fall asleep, according to the National Sleep Foundation. And per the Cleveland Clinic, chronic lack of quality sleep can lead to physical and emotional issues such as:


How Is Anxiety And Insomnia Treated

If your insomnia is directly related to your anxiety, your provider will likely recommend psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of both. Your exact treatment will depend on your individual circumstances and how severe your symptoms are. Your provider may decide to treat your anxiety or insomnia separately, or both at the same time.

Medications that are used to treat insomnia include the following. Benzodiazepines and antidepressants can also be used to treat anxiety. The type of medication your provider recommends will be based on your age, your health, what kind of insomnia symptoms youre having, the side effects, the cost of the medication, and other factors.

Your provider may also recommend therapy to help you manage your anxiety and insomnia. The most popular therapy used for these 2 conditions is cognitive behavioral therapy .

Therapy for anxiety often takes on 2 different forms:

Theres also CBT for insomnia , which focuses on identifying and correcting thoughts and behaviors that can fuel insomnia, as well as helping you develop healthier sleep habits.

Spend Less Time In Bed

Sleep restriction is a critical component of CBT-I, according to Tal. “Instead of spending all that time in bed not sleeping, sleep restriction reduces the amount of time in bed to the amount of time you are actually sleeping. So for example, if you are sleeping only 6 hours but you are in bed for 9, sleep restriction would tell you to be in bed for only 6 hours,” he says. Initially, this will increase anxiety around sleep, but according to Tal, by the 2nd or 3rd night most people pass out the minute their head hits the pillow. You add on time in bed incrementally, as you begin to sleep more. The goal is two-fold: ramp up sleep drive and decouple the bed from feelings of anxiety and restlessness.

That last bit is important because the more your body starts to associate the bed as the place where you DON’T sleep versus one where you do, the more entrenched your insomnia becomes. At one point, my own bed, which I’d loved for so long, began to feel like a cruel medieval torture chamber. Tal strongly recommends that insomnia sufferers not undertake sleep restriction on their own, especially if they have a psychological illness or other medical conditions. The good news is that CBT-I is a short-term treatment that offers results fairly quickly, often within 5-8 weeks, though it doesnt work for everyone.

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Best Breathing Technique For Energy

While many people have difficulty falling asleep, others have the opposite problem, even feeling sleepy in the morning or during the day when they need to be awake.

In this case Michael recommends a classic yoga exercise. Kapalabhati are rhythmic exhalations with a pumping effect that flush air out of the lungs, stimulate the nervous system and relieve tension.

In preparation, take three deep breaths in and out. Then:

  • Draw in your stomach sharply as you exhale. Repeat this once every second so you get into a rhythm.
  • Remember not to hold your breath You will breathe in between exhalations, but not consciously. Just concentrate on the sharp exhalation.
  • If this is difficult for you, try placing your hand on your stomach and squeezing gently with each exhale. It can take time for your abs to respond quickly enough.
  • Repeat this with 20 pumps first, then take a deep breath before holding your breath for 30 seconds if possible.

Thats one round done you want to repeat three rounds. You can build the repetitions from 20-30 to 40-60. You can also learn to hold your breath longer. However, dont be overly competitive slow, steady progress is best.

With these breathing techniques for sleep, you should be asleep in no time!

This article was originally published on Womens Health UK

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Turn Down The Noise In Your Head For A More Restful Night

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As you tuck into bed at night, do the thoughts in your brain refuse to slow down when you turn off the lights? Instead of winding down, its a wave of worries about everything from paying your credit card bill on time to an upcoming meeting with your boss. That non-stop chatter about what might occur tomorrow is a sign of anxiety and, for many, its a serious roadblock to getting a good nights sleep.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, the number of people struggling with anxiety is staggering. Anxiety has become the number one mental health issue in North America, affecting approximately 40 million Americans . Some estimates put this number higher at around 30% since many people with anxiety dont know they have it or dont seek treatment.

Simply put, its a national epidemic.

When it comes to sleep, anxiety is a key part of a toxic cycle because it makes getting to sleep and staying asleep difficult. Whats more, it becomes a source of worry itself, worsening the original anxiety a chicken-and-egg problem. Did the anxiety cause poor sleep or did poor sleep cause anxiety? One feeds the other, experts say.

The bad news is that even as you manage to nod off, your anxiety is still active. While we sleep, our mind is still active and maybe processing information, she says. If we dont take time throughout the day to process information and to unwind, then stress/anxiety can make it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep.

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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.

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.

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Could I Have Insomnia Or An Anxiety Disorder

Chronic insomnia is clearly defined as when you have trouble falling or staying asleep at least three times a week for more than 3 months. But an anxiety disorder is harder to diagnose.

In addition to ongoing tension, worry, and trouble with sleep, other signs of an anxiety disorder include:

  • Steering clear of situations that trigger your fears
  • Nervousness, restlessness
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Digestion problems

See your doctor if you have these symptoms or your level of worry has drastically changed your lifestyle or is affecting work or school. Call 911 if you start having thoughts of hurting yourself or committing suicide.

Why Does It Happen At Night


Anxiety is a normal human emotion characterized by feelings of nervousness and worry. You may find yourself experiencing anxiety during stressful situations, such as a first date or job interview.

Sometimes, though, anxiety may linger around for longer than usual. When this happens, it can interfere with your daily and nightly life.

One of the most common times when people experience anxiety is at night. Many clinical trials have found that sleep deprivation can be a trigger for anxiety. Historically, research also suggests anxiety disorders are associated with reduced sleep quality.

Treating your nighttime anxiety and addressing your sleep issues are important steps in improving your quality of life.

There are many symptoms of anxiety. Everyone experiences anxiety differently. Symptoms can happen anytime of the day, morning, or night. Common symptoms of anxiety include:

  • feelings of nervousness, restlessness, or worry
  • trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
  • gastrointestinal problems

Another symptom a person with anxiety may also experience is a panic attack. A panic attack is an episode of extreme and intense fear, often accompanied by physical manifestations. The common symptoms of a panic attack include:

  • a sense of impending doom
  • increased heart rate and chest pains
  • shortness of breath and throat tightness
  • sweating, chills, and hot flashes
  • dizziness or lightheadedness
  • a feeling of detachment, or like nothing is real

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Practice Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Progressive muscle relaxation is a technique where you contract and then relax your muscles to release tension.

One way to try progressive muscle relaxation is by tensing and releasing the muscles in your toes and then slowly working your way up the rest of your body. Each time you squeeze your muscles, hold it for about five seconds, then relax for 30 seconds before moving to the next body part.

According to the Mayo Clinic, this and other relaxation techniques may help improve your sleep quality by encouraging the following changes in your body:

  • Slowing your breathing rate
  • Reducing activity of stress hormones
  • Reducing muscle tension and chronic pain
  • Lowering your blood pressure

Do A ‘closure Of The Day’ Exercise

It can be hard to ease into sleep if you’re worried about your lengthy to-do list. If your worries about the day ahead are keeping you up at night, try a “closure of the day” exercise.

“Reflect on your day, make a to-do list for the following day and address any thoughts that come up,” says Allison Siebern, PhD, certified behavioral sleep medicine professional and Proper’s head sleep science advisor.

“This practice of setting aside time at the end of every day will help you essentially close up shop and prevent any free-floating thoughts from arising at bedtime or in the middle of the night,” she says.

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Essential Oils For Sleep And Anxiety

Essential oils can also help you sleep. Some offer soothing effects, while others help clear your airway so you can breathe easier and fall asleep.

Essential oils that help combat sleep problems and promote better sleep include:

  • Lavender: works to calm anxiety and offers sedative effects
  • Sandalwood: aids in relaxation and calms anxiety
  • Bergamot: lowers heart rate and blood pressure, and helps with anxiety and stress
  • Jasmine: helps with restless sleeping
  • Chamomile: calms and reduces stress
  • Clary Sage: acts as a natural sedative and may reduce cortisol levels
  • Valerian root: reduces anxiety
  • Frankincense: promotes relaxation to calm you down

If physical symptoms from a cold or allergies are disrupting your sleep, try these essential oils:

  • Peppermint: helps clear nose and airways, reducing snoring and symptoms of mild sleep apnea
  • Eucalyptus: breaks up mucus in airways and sinuses

You can use a diffuser to breathe in the oil, or apply it directly to your skin.

If you choose to apply essential oils to your skin, dilute them first.

Sleep Anxiety Complications And Related Conditions

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Sleep anxiety goes hand-in-hand with trouble sleeping. If you are finding it hard to sleep or stay asleep, your insomnia can cause you further complications through a lack of sufficient quality sleep.

This goes beyond tiredness. Sleeplessness can lead to difficulties in concentrating and performing at work, an increased risk of injury and motor vehicle crashes, and various health problems.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classifies a short sleep duration as adults getting less than seven hours of sleep in a 24-hour cycle.

In fact, a third of American adults are not getting the recommended amount of sleep.

If you are getting insufficient sleep long-term, the CDC has shown that this can be associated with the development of chronic diseases and moreover difficulty in managing these chronic diseases.

Conditions related to long-term sleep anxiety/insomnia include:

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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.

Harris says that fear is rare, but may occur when someone first learns that he or she has sleep apnea and is waiting for a CPAP device to treat the condition.

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:

If You Cant Sleep Do Something Relaxing

Its normal to sometimes find it difficult to fall asleep. If you get into bed at your normal bedtime but cant doze off within 20 minutes, its okay to get out of bed for a little while.

When youre out of bed, try to engage in relaxing activities such as reading a book, listening to soothing music or writing down your thoughts from the previous day.

Doing so can help you unwind until you feel sleepy enough to return to bed.

While youre out of bed, make sure not to switch on too many lights or engage in any activities that will increase your alertness.

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Make Your Bedroom A Good Environment For Sleep

Make sure that your bedroom is at a comfortable temperature, is totally dark and quiet, and that you have clean and comfortable bedding.

Use your bedroom only for sleeping, and get into bed only when you are tired.

These steps will make your mind and body associate your bedroom as a place for long quality sleep.

Falling Asleep With Anxiety

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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.

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.

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Create A Calming Bedroom Environment

Question: How to sleep with anxiety in a messy room?

Answer: Its going to be a hard night for you because its impossible.

Trying to fall asleep in a messy, smelly, and stimulating room is hard even without anxiety.

On the other hand, its much easier to calm down and fall asleep when your room is prepared for that.

Before going to bed, do these things:

  • Tidy up a little, so youre not trying to rest in a messy room.
  • Let in some cool, fresh air.
  • Enhance the air with calming essential oils .
  • Put away all your devices at least an hour to sleep.
  • You can also change your bed sheets for some extra comfort.
  • Read a calming book .
  • Turn on a soothing, gentle melody or nature sounds .
  • You can also utilize certain sleep inducing colors in your room to help with sleep anxiety.

These things will create a calming atmosphere and also prepare you for the next step

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