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How To Relieve Anxiety To Sleep

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When To Contact A Doctor

Occasional anxiety is common, especially during times of stress. However, chronic anxiety is a medical condition that often does not get better on its own. Delaying treatment gives the anxiety time to spiral out of control, potentially affecting other aspects of a persons life.

A person should see a doctor if they experience any of the following:

  • anxiety that causes physical health problems
  • anxiety that does not respond to home remedies like exercise
  • anxiety that is so severe that the person is unable to sleep

People should also contact their doctor if they experience a recurrence of anxiety while undergoing treatment for anxiety. The doctor may recommend adjusting or adding to the treatment plan.

What Are The Health Risks Of Not Getting Enough Sleep

Short sleep and fragmented sleep are linked with increased risk of heart attack, , obesity, accidents, memory problems, diabetes, difficulty with concentration and impaired learning. Sleep is sometimes referred to as the third pillar of health: Sleep, nutrition, and exercise. In order to be healthy, all three must be managed well.

How To Reduce Anxiety At Night: Our Familys Personal Experience

Needless to say we have tried many, many things in our attempt to get more sleep in our household, and I want to take the time to lay it all out and share what weve learned: the good, the bad, and in-between.

The good news? There are definitely some excellent, non-pharmaceutical options that often help. It often takes trial and error, but if you find the thing that works for you, its so worth it!

For each of the tools that I list below Ill explain what they are and how they are theorized to work, followed by my personal take and experience.

Youll notice as you read through them that some of these are more potent as an in-the-moment trick while others are more powerful when used over time to nudge the bodys natural mechanisms back to functionality.

Ill be honest with you its difficult to break out of the modern pill for every ill mindset where we expect instant results after popping a pill . Nevertheless, its worth checking ourselves in this regard, and being open-minded about a synergistic, slow, long-term approach that supports the intricate functioning of the human body.

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.

Go To Bed When You’re Sleepy

How Good Sleep Reduces Anxiety

If you are not sleepy when you lie down, you are almost guaranteed to have trouble falling asleep. Leibowitz says that he has fixed many patients’ sleep issues by simply suggesting that they go to bed later.

He says, “We all have a clock in our brain that controls when sleep and wake should happen. That is a trait. People who are night owls are night owls. People who are morning people are morning people. And, contrary to popular belief, we can not train ourselves to be morning people by going to bed early and getting up early.”

Many problems with sleep come simply because we tell ourselves that we have to be a morning person when we aren’t, and we try to be a morning person by going to bed early when we aren’t sleepy.

Here’s an example: If you are someone who needs seven hours of sleep and you go to bed at 10 p.m. and set your alarm for 7 a.m., you’re giving yourself a nine-hour window for sleep. Those extra two hours are going to show up somewhereeither at the beginning of the night, in the middle of the night or in the early morning. So if you go to bed at midnight and wake up at 7 a.m. and you feel refreshed, you may be a night owl who is a seven-hour sleeper, and that’s OK!

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 Is Sleep Anxiety Disorder: The Symptoms

We all have bad nights of sleep from time to time. 

Struggling to get to sleep one night due to feelings of stress doesnt necessarily mean youre having a sleep anxiety attack.

Before you start looking at how to get to sleep when you have anxiety or talking to your doctor about treatments, its worth checking for the following symptoms:

But Most People Don’t Get Enough Sleep

Our world seems to move faster and faster every day. With so much to do, we often sacrifice a healthy seven to nine hours of sleep in an effort to keep up. In a 2014 survey, 42% of Americans said they got less than seven hours of sleep on a typical night. And across the world, less than 50% of survey participants said that they were sleeping well every night. If you have been deprived of sleep for a few days, the amount of sleep you need increases. Sleep deprivation creates a sleep debt that your body will demand to have repaid at some point. Contrary to popular belief, your body doesn’t actually adapt to getting inadequate sleep. However, you might get used to functioning with impaired judgment, slower reaction times, and foggy brain. The best way to repay a sleep debt is with consistent, adequate nighttime sleep and strategic .

When To See A Doctor

Constant anxiety that makes it difficult to sleep at night can affect your daily quality of life. Your work or school performance may worsen, and you may find it hard to complete your normal daily tasks.

If anxiety and lack of sleep are affecting your life in this way, its important to reach out to a doctor or mental health specialist for help.

For some people, nighttime anxiety can lead to . Insomnia is defined as persistent trouble falling or staying asleep. Chronic insomnia can have negative health effects, including an increased risk of:

  • health conditions, such as high blood pressure and a weakened immune system
  • mental health conditions, such as depression
  • accidents

Whether your doctor makes a diagnosis of anxiety, insomnia, or both, reaching out is the first step in the treatment process.

Make Your Room A Den Of Zen

Give yourself a chance to relax and calm down before bed. Never bring your work to bed and invest in a good bed with linens in calming colours, like white and grey. Keep your room clear of clutter and other stressors and keep your tablets and other devices out of the bedroom. Establish a relaxing night time routine that starts at least an hour before you try to hit the pillow.

How Do You Stop Panic Attacks At Night

Unfortunately, you can’t always stop panic attacks, especially if it’s a nocturnal panic attack that can happen during sleep without warning. However, you can learn to stay relaxed and “talk yourself down” by controlling your breath, practicing positive self-talk, relaxing your muscles, and seeking support from a friend or family member.

Sleep Issues Common To Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Up to three-quarters of people with GAD experience fatigue, insomnia, and fretful sleep. As with many anxiety disorders, the arousal caused by the anxiety heightens alertness and interferes with ones ability to sleep. Its difficult to fall asleep in the first place, and the sleep one does get is often fragmented and less refreshing. As a result, individuals become sleep deprived and experience fatigue during their waking hours.

Because sleep becomes associated with worry instead of rest, anxiety develops around bedtime, in addition to the other anxious thoughts one is dealing with. Add to this increased worry about how well youll function the following day due to being sleep deprived.

Sleep deprivation worsens mood and increases irritability for everyone, regardless of whether theyre dealing with GAD. However, research from 2013 suggests that individuals who are prone to worry the kind of people at risk of developing an anxiety disorder like GAD are even more susceptible to the negative effects of sleep deprivation surrounding their mood and ability to regulate their emotions. When individuals with GAD are sleep deprived, theyre even more on edge, anxious about the future and anticipating threats.

Dont Lie In Bed Awake

How to Treat Anxiety: Stop Worrying, Be Happier, Sleep ...

Lying awake will only give your brain time to start another firestorm of worries and anxieties.

If you cant fall asleep after 20 minutes or so, try restarting that bedtime routine.

Dont turn on bright lights, of course, but go do a low-stress activity like pet your cat or drink a cup of tea for a few minutes to help give your body another chance at winding down for the night.

Causes Of Waking Up With Anxiety

It can be a nasty surprise to wake up with anxiety. It is generally believed that anxiety is triggered by problematic thoughts and emotions that happen throughout the day. Its not uncommon to feel anxiety during the day when you experience a lot of stressful events, but why would a person feel anxious before anything stressful has happened?

Try Some Natural Relaxation And Wellness Techniques

Meditation, yoga and other relaxation techniques have all proved effective for stress and sleep disorders. There are plenty of guided meditations and yoga routines geared specifically to those with problems sleeping.

Take some time out of your busy day to wind down at the end of it.Even if you have only 10 minutes for a short meditation before you go to bed, you may see a positive result.

You dont need any special skills or to follow any religious dogma, so give it a try. No time? Fall asleep to music or nature sounds geared especially for deep sleep. Here are a few of our favourites:

Understanding Anxiety And Insomnia

Whats behind the more stress, less sleep connection? If youre frequently triggering your stress response, your body never gets back to its baseline, says Johns Hopkins sleep expertLuis F. Buenaver, Ph.D., C.B.S.M.

Stress and sleepless nights are closely linked, Buenaver says. If youre in pain, tend to worry, or are coping with a difficult situation in your life, you may have more stress hormones than usual circulating in your body. A poor nights sleep adds even more. And those hormones may never be fully broken down. Its like running an engine in fifth gear all the time.

What Does Anxiety Feel Like

The symptoms of anxiety disorders can affect people both emotionally and physically.

People with anxiety may feel extremely nervous and on-edge. This can affect their concentration and mood, leading to irritability and restlessness. Their fear or sense of impending doom can feel overwhelming and out-of-control.

Physically, anxiety disorders can provoke tense muscles, rapid breathing and heartbeat, sweating, trembling, gastrointestinal distress, and fatigue.

Many people with anxiety disorders attempt to avoid situations that could trigger heightened worry; however, this does not resolve their underlying fear and can interrupt both professional and personal activities. Over time, a person with anxiety disorder may get used to being worried such that a state of distress or fear seems normal.

Anxiety disorders can occur alongside other mental health problems like depression. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America , nearly 50% of people with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.

What Is Anxiety What Are Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety is a feeling of worry and unease. Its normal to experience anxiety occasionally in response to fearful or stressful situations.

In anxiety disorders, this distress becomes excessive. Fears are not proportional to the situation, and worrying interferes with everyday life. These feelings become persistent, occurring most days for a period of six months or more.

Maintains Healthy Cortisol Levels

A study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information found that sleep loss leads to elevated cortisol the next evening. Cortisol is a steroid hormone that the adrenal glands produce in response to stress, both good and bad. It helps reduce inflammation, regulate metabolism, and aids in the formation of memory. Ideally, cortisol levels should neither be too high nor too low.

Sleep drops cortisol to healthy levels, and when you dont get enough of it, your body continues to produce more. You wake up feeling more stressed which makes it harder to sleep the next night. And so the cycle continues. It does not just sleep that elevated cortisol affects; if it continues to remain high, it can lead to headaches, high blood pressure and even trouble sleeping, which exacerbates the problem.

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.

Shop for the Hatch and .

Good Daytime Habits For Relieving Nighttime Stress

Get rid of sleep anxiety and insomnia: Your guide to a ...

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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The Reasons Behind Experiencing Sleep Anxiety

Sleep anxiety can happen for a multitude of reasons. A person may dread going to sleep because they are worried about having nightmares or night terrors. Or they may believe that something bad will happen during the night, such as a burglary, fire or death.

A person with a generalised anxiety disorder can also worry about sleep or the night time. They may become anxious a lot more at this time, without anything to distract them from their thoughts. And the idea of lying awake worrying at night may leave them feeling anxious about going to bed.

We are supposed to feel relaxed and tired when it is time for bed. But sleep anxiety can leave a person feeling the exact opposite. While it is human nature for our fight or flight instinct to be activated when faced with a possible danger, people with sleep anxiety see dangers associated with sleep such as nightmares, burglaries or death, which causes their body to fill with adrenaline. This causes them to experience heart palpitations, shortness of breath, loss of concentration, racing thoughts, sweating and nausea. These anxiety symptoms can make it very difficult to get a good nights sleep, which is something that we all need to maintain our physical and mental health.

Blueprint For Better Livinga Guide To Better Sleep

Anxiety piles up at night because anxious preoccupation is avoidable when a person is actively using their brain and body to carry them through the day, says Dr. Kate Cummins, a licensed clinical psychologist. When you have a list of to-dos or business meetings to participate in, your thought process is geared towards frontal cortex functioning, which is the judgment, planning and reasoning areas of your brain. Once you are finding yourself at the end of your day, your frontal cortex has the ability to relax a bit, shifting gears into things you enjoy or pieces of you that are not connected to higher level functioning, mainly in your emotions and limbic system. When your thoughts start connecting to the emotional part of your cognitive functioning, especially at night, the anxious thoughts or anxious emotion that has been lying dormant all day has a place to go, and becomes the forefront of your thinking patterns.

How do we stop this vicious cycle? Weve compiled a list of helpful tips in two parts: things you can do while in the grips of anxious thoughts, and things you can do to prevent them, before you go to bed.

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.

Visualize The Good Things In Your Life

The power of your imagination can help get you to a place of ease when youre fretting.

Visualization of positive events and relationships in your life will help you increase your connection to positive emotions that are also lying around within you, but you have to work at accessing them when the anxious feelings or thoughts have already shown up, says Cummins.

Calming your body is integral to calming your mind.

Joy Rains, a certified life coach and the author of “Meditation Illuminated: Simple Ways to Manage Your Busy Mind”, recommends a progressive relaxation exercise you can do in bed.

Best Tips For Relieving Nighttime Stress

There are numerous strategies for relieving nighttime stress and anxiety before bedtime. If youre feeling too stressed to sleep, these approaches can help you relax. Some sleepers use only one or two of these relaxation strategies while others practice a combination of them. If stress and sleep are a chronic concern, your physician can help you determine what the best approach is for you.

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.

Why Is My Anxiety Worse At Night

If you struggle with a bit of anxiety in the daytime you may find that your anxiety ramps up significantly when your head hits the pillow. Why is this? There are three main theories:

  • fatigue from the day means your brain can be less able to do that hard work of emotional regulation.
  • you may have anxiety at night specifically surrounding bedtime/sleep if youve been experiencing sleep difficulty for a while and feel frustrated and helpless.
  • once you lay down in the quiet darkness, there is nothing to distract your thoughts, which allows anxieties to bubble to the surface that you may have been trying to suppress all day.

Whatever the trigger, it can quickly become a perpetual cycle and its really difficult to break.

My oldest kiddo who is struggles with ADHD and anxiety alongside his gifted brain that seems to run at double-speed and has trouble shutting down at night. He often finds himself struggling to fall asleep for several hours simply because hes worrying about having a bad night of sleep. The poor kid knows how ironic that is, but cant seem to help it.

Where Can I Get Help For My Anxiety And Insomnia

7 Tips to Reduce Stress for Better Sleep

You can see your medical provider or a mental health professional. If you are already seeing someone for your anxiety who is aware of your history with the disorder, you may want to continue seeing them for insomnia.

You might believe anxiety is behind your poor sleep, but just in case, your provider will rule out other possible causes first. These can include:

  • Medications. Certain medications, including popular ones for ADHD, asthma, and pain can cause insomnia. Even antidepressants you may have been prescribed for anxiety can have this side effect.
  • Physical illnesses. Symptoms of health conditions related to the heart, blood vessels, lungs, thyroid, stomach, and brain can keep you awake at night.
  • Habit-forming substances. Alcohol and other drugs with a risk for dependency and addiction, as well as caffeine and nicotine can make it hard to get a good nights rest.

They may also ask about your daily habits and see if anything about them is making it challenging for you to sleep. For example, traveling frequently for work or working overnights can offset your circadian rhythm , and eating late in the evenings can lead to acid reflux or discomfort when lying down. Watching TV or being on your computer or phone before you go to bed can also make it hard to fall asleep.

If you have any of these conditions, treating them may help your insomnia.

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.

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