When You Wake Up Panicking At 3 Am
Weve all been there a nightmare or stressdream causes you to wake up. The next thing you know youre lying thereoverthinking your finances and everything you have to do the next day.
When this happens, what can you do to getback to sleep?
- Stop watching the clock: Counting the minutes will onlyheighten your distress. Turn your alarm clock around and dont pick up yourphone.
- Try to relax your body: Use a relaxation strategy thathelped prior to bed to relax your body and mind.
- Get out of bed: If you cant fall back to sleepafter a stressful dream, then try getting out of bed to help decrease thefrustration. Dont spend time in bed hopelessly trying to get back to sleep orinterpreting your dream. Once you leave your bed,find an activitythat is uninteresting or boring. When you start to get drowsy, go back to bed.
Since dreams obviously arent measurable, theres no real answer to what meaning they hold in our day-to-day life. But we do know that we generally have control over daily stress, which can trigger weird or anxiety-clad dreams. Learning to control the crazy and manage your stress is your best defense to help you sleep peacefully.
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Build A Sleep Routine
Sleep routines are personal to every individual but building and sticking to one can help reduce your nighttime anxiety overall. In turn, they can also teach you more about how to sleep when you have anxiety.
Sleep routines often but not always include taking a long, hot shower or bath before bed. You may read a book, light candles or incense, or sit in front of a fireplace. For many, stepping away from sources of news and blue light such as the television and your phone is an essential component of the process. You may also find that you like to:
- Color or draw
What Are The Symptoms Of Sleep Anxiety
When you cant sleep due to anxiety, you may experience behavioral changes, including:
- Feelings of being overwhelmed.
- Tense muscles.
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.
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Keep Consistent Sleep Hours
To keep your body in a regular cycle of sleep, it’s important to stay consistent with your sleep hours. That means trying to go to bed at night and wake up in the morning around the same time every day. Your body will become used to the sleep schedule you set, helping you more easily fall and stay asleep throughout the night.
Many people find it difficult to maintain routine sleep hours over the weekend. However, if you’re always having irregular sleep hours on the weekends, you’re setting yourself up to have sleep issues throughout the week. Shifting your wake and sleep times an hour or two shouldnt completely throw your sleep schedule off for the rest of the week. But if you’re committed to getting better and more consistent rest, you’ll need to keep your hours as stable as possible.
Experiment With Other Outlets For Stress And Anxiety
Working through your worries during the day could also help control those thoughts at night, says Arnedt. Spend some time fleshing out what youre worried about, he suggests. Depending on what those worries are, you might also find it helpful to come up with action plans and solutions, but just processing your anxieties and fears might be helpful on its own.
Try calling up a friend who you always find comforting or doing a mindful meditation to help bring your thoughts into the moment, and focusing on what you can take care of right now instead of in the uncertain future, Arnedt says. Here are a bunch of other suggestions for steps you can take to handle COVID-19 anxiety, including talking to a professional, if necessary.
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Stay Away From Caffeinated Drinks
Eliminate caffeinated drinks and foods after 2:00 P.M. Caffeine affects people differently, so your cut off time may be a little earlier or later, but start with 2:00 P.M. and adjust as needed. The National Sleep Foundation identifies caffeine as a source of insomnia as well as anxiety, excessive urination, irritability and rapid heartbeat.
Sleep Cocktails And Recipes You Can Whip Up At Home
If you’re looking for ways to ease into a nightly routine and set yourself up for a good night’s rest, look no further.
- Herbal tea: Perhaps the greatest “sleep cocktail” is a nice warm mug of non caffeinated tea. Try brewing up some tea that contains chamomile, passionflower, and a dash of CBD honey for sweetness. Many “sleepy time” teas contain chamomile among other herbal ingredients to help you feel calm and sleepy.
- Mulled tart cherry juice: Rather than sipping on mulled wine, try mulled cherry juice instead. Heat up tart cherry juice in a saucepan on the stove along with other “warming” spices such as clove, cinnamon, and star anise for a non-alcoholic, mulled beverage that uses melatonin instead of alcohol to help you fall asleep.
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Anxiety At Night: 12 Holistic Ways To Reduce It & Sleep Peacefully
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Anxiety at night is SO frustrating! This post shares 12 holistic ways to reduce anxiety and fall asleep peacefully .
Youve had a long, tiring day, and you desperately just want a solid night of sleep to recharge before you wake up and do it all over again. Finally, you climb into bed and lay your weary body down, and close your eyes.
Instead of a peaceful drift into dreamland, though, you find your mind frustratingly revving like a motor.
The more you try to quiet your thoughts, the louder and more insistent they get. Anxiety starts to rear its ugly head and soon youre in flight or fight mode, your cortisol is spiking, you can feel your heart beating like a drum, and your body is anything but relaxed. With every minute that goes by the cycle perpetuates itself and sleep grows more elusive.
Ugh, what an utterly awful feeling of despair!
Of all the health struggles that fall through the cracks with mainstream medicine, anxiety at night is one of the most common and also one of the most deeply frustrating. Sleep is essential, and when it doesnt come easily or naturally life starts to unravel, as I know from personal experience.
Chronic Elevated Levels Of Adrenaline
Finally, one of the things that we know about anxiety is that the physical symptoms can be increased when levels of adrenaline in the body are high. These physical symptoms, such as racing heart and hyperventilation, can actually lead to greater feelings of anxiety themselves. Anxiety has been associated with chronic adrenaline release. The body, for whatever reason, seems to release adrenaline too quickly and too easily even when there is no stress present, and this rush of adrenaline causes the entire body to feel on edge.
So whats interesting is that scientists have shown that those with sleep debt often have chronically elevated levels of adrenaline. One interpretation of these findings is that when you dont get enough sleep, adrenaline may start to course through your veins more often. For those without anxiety this may not be too big a problem. However, those with anxiety are likely to respond to the the adrenaline increase and thus experience an increase in overall anxiety levels.
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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.
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.
Shifting Your Perspective
Limit Caffeine And Other Stimulants
For many people, cutting out caffeine from their diet can be very difficult, but caffeine can greatly hamper your ability to fall asleep. Additionally, as a stimulant, caffeine can make your anxiety much more pronounced, and you may have a difficult time calming down if you drink excessive amounts of coffee.
It could also be getting in the way of you achieving a good nights sleep. Try avoiding caffeine at least four to five hours prior to when you want to go to bed.
If you know of any other forms of stimulants that you may be taking, try avoiding those at least a few hours before bedtime, as well.
Additionally, some recent studies, such as one conducted by Harvard Health, have come to find that blue light can keep the brain active, stimulated, and awake, as it suppresses the secretion of the hormone melatonin. This is the hormone responsible for helping you fall asleep, so try avoiding blue light, or wearing amber glasses to suppress the effects of the light, at least two hours prior to bedtime.
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Prepare For The Next Day
Part of what can keep you up at night is worry and nervousness regarding the following day. To eliminate some of the stress, it can be helpful to be more prepared for the next day. For example, you may find it anxiety-reducing to layout your clothes in advance, write a list of to-dos, or pack up your things for work so they’re ready to go. You can make these preparations a part of your before-bed routine.
Use A Flashlight Or Nightlight
Use a flashlight or nightlight if you wake during the night. Bright lights signal your brain that it is time to wake up. Instead of turning on the lights when you need to use the bathroom, keep a flashlight by your bed and use that or keep a nightlight on in the hallway and bathroom so you can see without using bright lights.
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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.
Make A Pledge To Accept Uncertainty
Your anxiety may be tied to a problem that is understandably keeping you up at night. But you have to let it go if only for this moment.
Repeat the phrase I accept uncertainty for now. I will take action when action is possible, says Coleman. Accepting uncertainty is crucial because otherwise one is resisting uncertainty at a time when resisting only adds to tension.
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How Does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Treat Sleep Anxiety
CBT is a form of psychotherapy, or talk therapy. It teaches you how to change your behavior by changing the way you think. Its a common treatment for people with anxiety. A special form of CBT called cognitive behavior therapy for insomnia focuses on helping people who have insomnia. This therapy can take anywhere from six to 12 weeks to produce results.
During CBT or CBTI, you may learn to:
- Avoid behaviors or environmental factors that trigger your anxiety or make sleeping difficult.
- Better understand how sleep and anxiety affect your brain and the rest of your body.
- Change negative or inaccurate thinking about bedtime or sleep.
Your therapist may teach you how to sleep with anxiety by using biofeedback. Biofeedback trains you to control your bodys functions. You learn to relax your muscles, regulate your breathing, lower your heart rate and focus your attention. Your therapist might use special sensors to measure these bodily functions, or they may give you exercises, such as deep breathing and meditation, to do at home.
Create A Bedtime Routine
Nightly routines are just as important for adults as they are for children because they signal to your brain that its time to relax for sleep. Routines get your body used to when its time to sleep and when its time to wake up. When thinking about what to do as part of your nightly routine, Dr Tang recommends the following:
- Stop drinking caffeinated drinks about six hours before your bedtime
- Switch to camomile tea or warm water or milk instead
- Plan for the next day by preparing your outfit and lunch
- Have a bath, which tends to be more soothing than a shower
- Stop scrolling through social media/your smartphone one hour before bedtime
- Keep a writing pad by your bed for if you wake in the middle of the night and need to remember something write it down
Other things you could do as part of a relaxing bedtime routine include:
- Meditation, including body scans and sleep meditations
- Listen to a calming audiobook or music
- Go to bed at the same time every night to get your body clock used to it
What if your nightly routine doesnt work? If nothing helps, maybe getting up and repeating the pre-sleep routine can help distract and create a new association between sleep and your wind-down routine, suggests Johanna Scheutzow. Theres nothing worse than lying in bed, trying to wrestle with your worries. Get out of bed and distract yourself. When youre feeling tired again, go back to bed.
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How To Beat Back Night
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.
If You Have Trouble Sleeping Get Up And Do Something Relaxing
Sometimes what happens in people who are feeling like theyre fully awake, they force themselves to sleep. Unfortunately, it doesnt work.
If this happens what I usually do is get up to do something relaxing. Do not stimulate your mind. By stimulating your mind, youre going to push yourself into a more wakeful state.
One of the first things I do when I have trouble falling asleep is trying to figure out why or whats bothering me. Unresolved issues that induce anxiety, unless dealt with will not go away.
Sometimes gentle stretches, as well as deep breathing exercises, also help. Racing or nagging thoughts prevent us from nodding off. Maybe try writing down your anxiety-inducing worries on paper so you can sleep better.
Nighttime is usually the time when our minds tend to get busier as well as our muscles tense up. This would be a great time to start relaxing your muscles one at a time. Turning your bed into a haven of comfort and relaxation is the best thing you can do for yourself.
Keep this area only for sleeping. Otherwise, stay out of there when you are doing any type of mind-stimulating exercise.
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Take Your Time Winding Down
Never force yourself to go to sleep. Let it happen naturally. One of the best ways I find that sleep comes naturally is if I start to wind down about an hour before bedtime.
My winding down includes:
- Having a warm shower
You could have different ways to wind down. See what works for you. What works for one person may not work for another.
Winding down is essential because you let your body know, hey its time to start cooling down. Your body then starts to go into rest mode.
When our body goes into rest mode, it prepares itself to go to sleep. If we were to do some exciting activity before bedtime, our brain would have a hard time shutting down.
Find some activities that are quiet and calming for you. Let your body know what it should expect of you.