Sleep Anxiety: How To Sleep Better At Night With Anxiety
About the blog: Having difficulty going off to sleep? Has it been worse with all the news around COVID-19? You may be dealing with Sleep Anxiety. In this blog post, we tell you everything you need to know about sleep anxiety and related sleep phobias. We will be looking into questions, such as what is sleep anxiety, what are the symptoms of sleep anxiety, how do you get rid of sleep anxiety, how does lack of sleep due to sleep anxiety affect mental health, etc.
Sleep Anxiety: Tips To Manage Anxiety And Improve Sleep
In these unprecedented and challenging times, you may find yourself worrying more than usual.
Whether thats being asked to work from home, having to take unpaid leave, avoid people or the schools closing, this may feel extremely stressful. Not only does this impact on your mental wellbeing but you may also find yourself struggling to sleep during this period.
Theres a close relationship between sleep and mental health. Lack of sleep can affect mental health, but mental health problems can also affect how well you sleep both the quantity and the quality of it so its extremely important to address both issues.
We all know that lack of sleep impacts on our mood so in this time of uncertainty, its important to look out for changes in yourself but also your family member, friend or colleagues behaviour and attitude.
When To Seek Professional Help
Again, it’s not uncommon to experience occasional difficulty sleeping, especially considering all the factors that contribute to healthy or unhealthy sleep. But difficulty sleeping becomes problematic when it occurs several nights per week, and lasts for more than a month, Butler said. It’s also an issue if the persistent lack of sleep interferes with your daily activities , and has led to problems with your memory and concentration.
At that point, you should make an appointment to see your primary care physician. That professional should be your first point of contact when it comes to anything related to stress because they can look at your health comprehensively, and can refer you to the specialists you may need, Butler said. Lack of sleep can be a disorder in and of itself, but it can also be a symptom of many other medical conditions, including anxiety, depression and hypothyroidism.
Whether your sleep troubles are caused by a temporary stressor or a more persistent anxiety, “it’s important to recognize that there is an increased amount of anxiety during the pandemic, and that’s an appropriate response to something that is very scary,” Snow said. “Be gentle with yourself when you notice you’re having anxiety, rather than beating yourself up. And reach out and ask for help if you do need it.”
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Read But Not On Your Phone
Getting lost a book is beneficial for many reasons, and it can be pivotal to sleep health.
Reading is a great way to quiet your mind and distract yourself from any anxious thoughts that might creep up at night. When you are engaged in a story, your thoughts are in the moment, instead of worrying about the future, says Dr. Sal Raichbach, a licensed clinical social worker at Ambrosia Treatment Center. On the other hand, the blue light emitted from cell phones does the opposite. Even if you turn down the brightness, blue light from LED screens interferes with the production of essential brain chemicals like melatonin that tell your body it’s time for bed.
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.
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Get Into An Everyday Sleep Routine
Getting onto the bed and waking up at a particular time daily sets the bodys internal time unit mechanism higher. Waking up at odd hours will undermine that rhythm. Try waking at the same time each day regardless of however well or, however, poorly you have got slept. In this fashion, your body will adapt your sleep cycle, and you will start falling asleep and waking up every day at a particular time.
Tip: No matter how worried you are about your sleep, worrying about sleep will not help. So dont force yourself for an 8 hours sleep or stop forcing yourself to sleep at a specific time in the night. You will sleep better when you relax your mind.
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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Treating Generalized Anxiety Disorder
GAD doesnt go away on its own, and is often a chronic condition that requires treatment over a period of years.
Fortunately, cognitive behavioral therapy is extremely effective for treating both GAD and related insomnia. Individuals learn to identify the negative thought patterns and behaviors that induce anxiety and inhibit sleep. Then they learn how to replace those with positive thoughts and healthy behaviors that promote good sleep habits and minimize anxiety both during the day and around bedtime.
Because sleep is closely linked with physical and emotional health, getting better sleep is an essential part of treating GAD.
What Is Sleep Anxiety
We are all currently feeling anxious. How can we not, when a pandemic is wreaking havoc outside our doors!
This feeling of anxiety might seem innocent, but it is affecting your health way more than you are aware of.
Sleep anxiety or Somniphobia is the fear associated with sleep.
Going to sleep seems like a very natural thing to do, but for some people, it can be a dreadful thing.
In a stressful situation, like the pandemic, the anxiety around sleep may not be all that unfounded.
You are constantly stressed, you are always receiving news that doesnt help, and so it is natural for you to get nightmares, which can further create a fear of sleep, adding to your sleep anxiety.
Have a look at the following video where Carolyn Theresa Simon shares 5 yogic practices for better sleep.
- Struggle in falling asleep or remaining asleep
- Gastrointestinal issues
A panic attack is one of the most common sleep anxiety symptoms that you must know of.
A panic attack around sleep anxiety is characterized by profound and intense fear of falling asleep, which is often accompanied by physical manifestations, such as:
- A sense of impending doom caused a rise in heart rate and chest pains
- Throat tightness and shortness of breath
- Sweating, chills, and hot sweats.
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- A sense of detachedness or as if nothing were real
You can also awaken from a nocturnal or nighttime panic attack in some cases.
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.
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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Sleep Anxiety: How To Manage Your Symptoms At Night
When people experience sleep anxiety – which is also known as somniphobia or sleep phobia – they fear going to sleep at night.
Some believe it to be evolutionary in nature, as before we had the trappings of modern life, we would have been most vulnerable when we were asleep. But nowadays, it is typically an unfounded fear that actually goes on to have a damaging effect on our health and wellbeing.
Within this blog, we will look at the reasons behind sleep anxiety, as well as the strategies that people can use to manage the symptoms that stop them from getting to sleep at night. We will also provide information on the support available for you at Priory Group hospitals and wellbeing centres, where we provide treatment for people with anxiety disorders, phobias and sleep disorders.
Get As Much Natural Light As Possible
Working from home, social distancing or even self-isolating may mean youre struggling to enjoy being out in the natural light this in turn can negatively affect your mental and physical wellbeing. Where possible try to go out for a quiet daily walk, spend some time in the garden and open the windows for fresh air. If youre working from home, try to position your work area near to a window. Natural light even on a cloudy day helps reset our internal body clock and make us more alert.
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Aromatherapy Diffuser And Essential Oil Set
Aromatherapy is a great self-care tool because its said to help improve pain levels and relieve stress.
In particular, while research is somewhat limited on essential oils, lavender oil is one thats generally considered a natural sleep aid. For example, one older study found that lavender increased the amount of slow and deep wave sleep.
Thats why this diffuser and essential oil set is a great tool to help you work aromatherapy into your nightly routine. Plus, the wood diffuser will look cute on your bedside.
Sense a pattern here? Products that give you something calming to focus on before bed are a great idea because they help take your mind off your worries.
Lighting a scented candle before bed is a great way to do that.
Homesick makes a whole line of candles designed to evoke the smells of your home state or specific memories so its pretty easy to find a scented candle that youll find calming.
Nap No Later Than 3 Pm
First off, I have to say Im not a person who naps. Never have been or never will be.
But I know plenty of nappers. My sister loves to nap then she complains that she cant sleep at night. When we nap, it takes away from the rest that were hoping to get at night.
Its okay to nap early in the day. Even a 20-minute power nap in the day is okay. Its not okay if you do it after 3 PM, because youre cutting into your sleep time.
Another thing is some people cant nap unless they are in their own bed. Which then gets your mind associating napping and going to bed at night as the same thing.
When your mind cant differentiate that you are going to bed or having a nap, it becomes hard for your mind to learn how to induce sleep when you actually need it, which is at bedtime.
For some napping is similar to a whole nights sleep. If a person gets their whole sleep in a 20-minute nap, theres no way theyre going to be able to sleep at night.
Im not saying naps are bad for you, as a matter of fact, study suggests they are good for you. They actually help to lower rates of cardiovascular disease as well as inflammation.
But there is a time to do them, which is before 3 pm. If you nap too much during the daytime, some studies have linked regular daytime napping with the high risk of type II diabetes as well as cardiovascular disease and even death.
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Come Back To The Present Moment
Anxiety only happens when your thoughts and more so, your fears about the future dominate the present. Maybe you are stressing about what might happen at work tomorrow or what will happen to your future.
This is usually greater at night when you are trying to go to sleep because all the thoughts you had tried to neglect during the day and tried to distract from appearing during the day, come back haunting to you during the night.
But whenever anxiety comes, see it as an opportunity to become mindful and to come back to the present moment.
When thoughts of the future come and cause you to be anxious, detach from it and instantly return to the present moment- to your breath, to what youre doing, to what youre feeling, to what youre touching, to what youre seeing and observe the present moment.
In this present moment, absolutely everything is alright. Just be in the now. Ask yourself, Is there anything wrong in this moment? You will always find the answer, no.
There is absolutely nothing wrong in this space of Now. Just focus on the now.There is nothing to harm you. There is no one who can. You are protected in this present moment.
How Can I Tell If Its Anxiety Or A Sleep Disorder
Sleep disorders are very common in anxious people. Anxiety makes it difficult to quiet your mind and body to go to sleep. Not long ago, we believed that if the sleep problem was caused by another medical or mental health condition like anxiety, you would treat the cause and the sleep problem would go away. We now know this isnt true. If the anxiety is treated, the sleep problem may remain. The current belief is that you must treat both problems.
But not all sleep problems start with another condition like anxiety. Some people only have anxiety about sleep. Their anxiety is caused about worrying about sleep or how they will function after a night of bad sleep. If this struggle continues night after night, they start to dread the bed. During the day, they arent anxious, but once they start thinking about going to bed, their anxiety rises. Other people are anxious about sleep because of something that happens during sleep. It could be nightmares, fear of sleep walking or other behaviors that only occur when the person is asleep and unaware, or waking up gasping for air due to untreated sleep apnea. Sometimes its fear of the dark. Additionally, about 40 percent of people who have panic attacks will have nocturnal panic attacks. Essentially, they wake up from sleep in a panic. All these things make sleep something to be feared, and if you dread your bed, youll have problems sleeping.
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