The Conventional Approach Falls Short With Insomnia & Anxiety At Night
As a layperson with a passion for health, one of my biggest frustrations with the conventional philosophy in Western medicine is their unwillingness to look at the big picture. In general most health & wellness complaints are treated as single, isolated problems.
This leads our healthcare to be both reactive and surface level .
Im really thankful that I decided to start digging in and asking questions over a decade ago, which continues to this day.
In my experience, most conventional doctors offer just two options for a patient with anxiety at night and sleep trouble:
- 1) Do nothing, or tell you to try relaxing
- 2) Pharmaceutical medications
In reality, there are SO many other options to try.
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.
Things You Can Do To Reduce Anxiousness And Sleep Better
Getting sleep, and the overall quality of sleep, are closely tied to how anxious you are.
So what can you do to bring anxiety levels down?
Much less, do that without having to take a pill ?
There are a few simple solutions that you can employ.
1 Breathing In These Ways Helps Reduce Anxiety:There are a number of different ways to control your breathing that are shown to help reduce anxiety.
I recently read an article that focused on 8 different ways to breathe for reducing anxiety.
Looking over them, I thought all were useful, but not all of them were practical.
So what I did was collect the ones I thought were most easily adopted and easy to accomplish.
Ive taken the liberty to lift the directions directly from the article I read to deliver their directions to you.
Here are the 2 I thought were best:
The first is breath focus breathing.
When deep breathing is focused and slow, it can help reduce anxiety. You can do this technique by sitting or lying down in a quiet, comfortable location. Then:
You May Like: Does Nac Affect Sleep
Ways To Help Lower Anxiety Naturally
Overcoming a challenge takes strength and courage, so its a good idea to show up nourished and well-rested. Heres how to help lower anxiety naturally.
Taking care of yourself is key. Research shows that after a good nights sleep 7-9 hours is ideal youre likely to feel less anxious and more confident. Physical activity during the day will help you sleep better, but you know that! Eating real, unprocessed food lean protein, whole grains, legumes, fruit, nuts, veggies, the occasional piece of dark chocolate! will keep your energy level on an even keel. Fast food and processed snacks cause spikes and crashes in blood sugar that can leave you jittery. Here are 6 natural cures for anxiety worth considering.
Sleepless Nights Try Stress Relief Techniques
In a recent national survey, 44 percent of adults said stress had causedsleepless nights at least once in the previous month. All that tossing,turning and staring at the ceiling can leave you feeling tired andmore stressed the next day. If youre caught in this vicious cycle ofanxiety and insomnia, theres good news: Simple stress relief techniquescan help you sleep better and feel calmer.
You May Like: Does The Garmin Vivofit 4 Track Sleep
Aromatherapy And Essential Oils
Essential oils, the extract from plants, have been used for thousands of years to treat a number of conditions, including anxiety. Essential oils activate certain areas of your brain and release feel-good chemicals such as serotonin. They have been found to ease symptoms of anxiety, stress, and depression, improve mood, and improve sleep.
Recommended use includes diffusing, inhalation, or topical treatment which can aid with anxiety symptoms. When diffusing an essential oil or essential oil blend you will need an essential oil diffuser to fill your space with the desired scent. Inhalation is used by deeply smelling the essential oil straight from the bottle or by applying a drop or two of the oil on something such as a diffuser pad or lava bead that is connected to a bracelet, necklace, or even keychain. You can also place a drop or two of essential oil into your hands, rub them together, then cup your hands and take a few deep inhalations to get the desired effect.
You should be sure that the essential oils you use are pure oils and not mixed with chemicals. Some good brands to use include: Mountain Rose Herbs, Plant Therapy, Young Living, Doterra. You can do your own research to find a brand that will best work for you and your budget. Remember that a bottle of essential oil will last a long time since you typically use only a few drops at a time.
Essential oils that are great for treating anxiety include:
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:
- Practice a relaxation technique, such as deep breathing, journaling, or yoga.
- Read a book.
- Unwind with a warm bath or cup of tea.
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.
One Simple Trick To Beat Sleep Anxiety & Fall Asleep Fast
No matter how tired you are, sleep anxiety can prevent you from falling asleep and getting the valuable shut-eye you need to be happy and full of beans in the morning.
The more your mind races the more restless and agitated you feel, as the monkey mind spins thought trail after trail of random worries, predictions, fears and contemplations about all manner of things.
Before long, you inherit the added worry of worrying how late its getting and how tired youll feel in the morning.
Its annoying, frustrating and makes you feel groggy the next day.
Not only do you end up physically exhausted the following day, but also mentally out of steam having wasted your resources on those unnecessary but uncontrollable nighttime demons in your head.
But worry not, because a natural solution is at hand
We already know that using the breath to still the mind is a common practice in meditation, but few people know that its also used medically to calm a person having an anxiety attack.
I was actually told this by a guy who had been rushed to hospital once while having an attack. He said the nurse who treated him used this technique to bring his heart rate down and enable him to catch regain control.
The technique is to breath in deeply and hold for a count of 6, and then breath out again, slowly.
The NHS in the UK actually recommends the following:
- Fill up the whole of your lungs with air, without forcing. Imagine youre filling up a bottle, so that your lungs fill from the bottom.
Teapigs Snooze Sleepy Tea
Everyone has heard that chamomile tea can help you sleep. Why? Well, its commonly called a mild tranquilizer and has an antioxidant called apigenin, which binds to specific receptors in your brain that may decrease anxiety and help make you sleepy.
This sleepy tea takes chamomile up a notch by also adding in lavender, another ingredient that has been used for centuries to help calm nerves. The tea is also naturally caffeine free and, well, its simply delicious.
Get Rid Of Your Clock
Clocks can be a common trigger for anxiety, especially when youre trying to fall asleep. Instead of having a clock by your bedside where you can glance at it every time you struggle to fall asleep keep a clock outside your room instead. Looking at the clock will only cause your anxiety to get worse, so avoid it altogether.
What Are The Symptoms Of Nighttime Anxiety
Symptoms of nighttime anxiety take on many forms, as it is experienced differently by everyone. Dr. Pierrette Mimi Poinsett, pediatrician and medical consultant for Mom Loves Best, says, Before bedtime is no different than anxiety during the day. The difference is that you may be more aware of anxiety at night as fewer other stimuli are co-occurring.
While sleep anxiety is individual to each person, some of the most common symptoms include:
- Nightmares and night terrors
- Hypnic jerk
Another symptom of sleep anxiety is panic attacks. This involves an episode of extreme fear thats characterized by a sense of doom, increased heart rate, sweating, dizziness, shortness of breath, and a feeling of detachment that could occur before or during sleep. After experiencing a nighttime panic attack, there can be anxiety about getting another attack, making it harder to fall asleep.
Also Check: How Does Fitbit Track Sleep Stages
Falling Asleep And Anxiety
The time before you go to sleep is a difficult one for anxiety sufferers. This is because all the worries you have accumulated over the course of the day choose now to float through your mind. Being alone in a dark room doing nothing but lying there with your worries allows you no distractions from them, which often allow them to seem to grow bigger and bigger and spiral out of control.
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.
Also Check: Do Formula Fed Babies Sleep Better
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.
What Causes Anxiety Attacks At Night
People who suffer from anxiety disorders, are usually more likely to suffer from problems with their sleep. Sleep issues are a natural side-effect of the increased heart rate and rapid breathing that comes from feelings of anxiety.
According to studies, up to 36% of people with insomnia suffer from an anxiety disorder too. People prone to anxiety will also be more likely to experience a sleep anxiety attack, as theyll start to worry about what their lack of sleep means for their health.
Here are some of the most common causes of anxiety at night:
Don’t Miss: How Good Is Garmin Sleep Tracking
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 Causes Anxiety Disorders
The exact cause of anxiety is unknown. In fact, researchers believe that there is not one single cause but rather an interplay of factors that include a persons genetics, family history, and exposure to negative life events. Some health problems and drugs can also contribute to symptoms of anxiety.
Don’t Miss: Does The Garmin Vivofit 4 Track Sleep
The Holistic Approach To Anxiety At Night
Alternative approaches, however, can offer a much more comprehensive and effective strategy, which can be especially helpful for issues like this.
Here are the main components to a more big-picture approach to anxiety at night & sleep issues:
These are the steps that I choose to focus on long before I wind up resorting to pharmaceutical meds. For the record Im not against using pharmaceuticals altogether. I just dont think they should be our first step in addressing most issues. Sometimes theyre necessary, and sometimes they can be used to relieve an acute issue while you work on the slower root cause healing process.
Side note that has to be said: Im a huge advocate of taking charge of your health and educating yourself from a range of experts . That being said, everyones situation is unique, so be sure to consult with a trusted healthcare provider before doing anything considered medical for your anxiety at night, like supplements or herbs.
Common Psychological And Medical Causes Of Insomnia
Sometimes, insomnia only lasts a few days and goes away on its own, especially when it is tied to an obviously temporary cause, such as stress over an upcoming presentation, a painful breakup, or jet lag. Other times, insomnia is stubbornly persistent. Chronic insomnia is usually tied to an underlying mental or physical issue.
Anxiety, stress, and depression are some of the most common causes of chronic insomnia. Having difficulty sleeping can also make anxiety, stress, and depression symptoms worse. Other common emotional and psychological causes include , worry, grief, bipolar disorder, and trauma. Treating these underlying problems is essential to resolving your insomnia.
Medical problems or illness. Many medical conditions and diseases can contribute to insomnia, including asthma, allergies, Parkinsons disease, hyperthyroidism, acid reflux, kidney disease, and cancer. Chronic pain is also a common cause of insomnia.
Medications. Many prescription drugs can interfere with sleep, including , stimulants for ADHD, corticosteroids, thyroid hormone, high blood pressure medications, and some contraceptives. Common over-the-counter culprits include cold and flu medications that contain alcohol, pain relievers that contain caffeine , diuretics, and slimming pills.
Read Also: Does Vivofit 2 Track Heart Rate
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.