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.
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.
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.
Also Check: How To Get Apple Watch To Track Sleep
What Happens When Anxiety Interrupts Sleep
When anxiety causes inadequate sleep, it can go beyond the tiredness of a regular all-nighter. Poinsett says that anxiety can be a trigger for sleep deprivation, creating a vicious cycle that can further affect your sleep pattern.;;;
While the impact of sleep anxiety is largely individual, some common effects of sleep anxiety include:
- Negatively impacts your mood
- Increases chance of depression
- Reduces cognitive reaction times;
A small study even found that those who have insomnia are four times more likely to develop depression.
In addition to mental health issues, those with sleep disorders can be at risk for other health problems, including heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, and obesity.;
What Is The Relationship Between Anxiety And Sleep
Serious sleep disturbances, including insomnia, have long been recognized as a common symptom of anxiety disorders. People who are plagued with worry often ruminate about their concerns in bed, and this anxiety at night can keep them from falling asleep.
In fact, a state of mental hyperarousal, frequently marked by worry, has been identified as a key factor behind insomnia. People with anxiety disorders are inclined to have higher sleep reactivity, which means they are much more likely to have sleeping problems when facing stress.
Sleeping difficulties have been found for people with various types of anxiety including generalized anxiety disorder, OCD, and PTSD. In several studies, over 90% of people with PTSD associated with military combat have reported symptoms of insomnia.
Distress about falling asleep can itself complicate matters, creating a sleep anxiety that reinforces a persons sense of dread and preoccupation. These negative thoughts about going to bed, a type of anticipatory anxiety, can create challenges to healthy sleep schedules and routines.
At the same time, strong evidence indicates that sleeping problems are not only a symptom of anxiety. Instead, sleep deprivation can instigate or worsen anxiety disorders. Researchers have found that people who are prone to anxiety are especially sensitive to the effects of insufficient sleep, which can provoke symptoms of anxiety.
You May Like: How To Get Better Deep Sleep
Doctor Jos Breathing Exercises To Relieve Stress & Anxiety
Sail a Boat on a Beautiful Lake
I did warn you that some of this may seem daft.
Okay, I obviously dont mean literally, but the next stage is to use visualization in order to further calm the mind.
This, yet again, is a mindfulness meditation technique that I have taken from the program Im going to introduce you to in a moment.
For some reason, calm water and a bright sun beating down on you is an extremely relaxing thought for most of us .
So, once youve told your mind to STOP, have taken 10 deep breaths, you should then close your eyes and just visualize.
The technique I have learned involves being on a small rowing boat, all on my own.
Im on a lake, there is a range of mountains in the background behind the shore with a few trees dotted around.
I can feel a calming breeze, gentle waves lapping against the side of the boat, and the warm sun on my face.
You dont have to do anything more, just visualize and use your imagination.
Set the scene in your mind, and as soon as you have a negative thought , return to your boat.
Perhaps dip your fingers over the side into the lake and feel the cooling water against your skin. Just keep imagining the beauty and serenity of this scene.
Once again there is no magic to any of this, it is simply a way of distracting the mind, moving away from the negative thought process, and having something else to concentrate on.
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.
Read Also: Can Apple Watch Series 1 Track Sleep
How To Fall Asleep With Anxiety: 23 Proven Mind Tricks
One of the leading causes of major sleeping disorders, like insomnia, are anxiety disorders. The prevalence of cases in which sleeplessness was associated with anxiety are numerous and oftentimes accompanied by phobias, panic disorders, and traumatic stress disorder.
Therefore, people who have anxiety also have a hard time falling and staying asleep.
Many people even develop sleep anxiety, which further affects their sleep pattern and sleep quality. The deal with sleep and anxiety is that both affect each other; sleeplessness makes you anxious about not being able to fall asleep, and anxiety itself causes you not to fall asleep in the first place.
So, in the following paragraphs, were going to take a look at the best ways you can fall and stay asleep, even if you have anxiety.
But, before we begin, we need to point out that in order to take any advice from the Internet, you first need to consult the recommendations with your designated doctor.
Your doctor will see how these recommendations fit your therapy plan and whether they could help better your sleep.
How Common Are Anxiety Disorders
|Adults Affected in U.S.||Percentage of U.S. Adult Population|
|Generalized Anxiety Disorder|
Not all people with anxiety disorders have the same degree of symptoms or impact from anxiety on their everyday life. In one large survey, around 43% of adults described having mild impairment of their life from anxiety. Around 33% said it was moderate, and nearly 23% said it was severe.
You May Like: What Is A Sleep Cycle Called
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.
Treating Insomnia With A Better Sleep Environment And Routine
Two powerful weapons in the fight against insomnia are a quiet, comfortable bedroom and a relaxing bedtime routine. Both can make a big difference in improving the quality of your sleep.
Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, and cool. Noise, light, a bedroom thats too hot or cold, or an uncomfortable mattress or pillow can all interfere with sleep. Try using a sound machine or earplugs to mask outside noise, an open window or fan to keep the room cool, and blackout curtains or an eye mask to block out light. Experiment with different levels of mattress firmness, foam toppers, and pillows that provide the support you need to sleep comfortably.
Stick to a regular sleep schedule. Support your biological clock by going to bed and getting up at the same time every day, including weekends. Get up at your usual time in the morning even if youre tired. This will help you get back in a regular sleep rhythm.
Turn off all screens at least an hour before bed.;Electronic screens emit a blue light that disrupts your bodys production of melatonin and combats sleepiness. So instead of watching TV or spending time on your phone, tablet, or computer, choose another relaxing activity, such as reading a book or listening to soft music.
Avoid stimulating activity and stressful situations before bedtime.;This includes checking messages on social media, big discussions or arguments with your spouse or family, or catching up on work. Postpone these things until the morning.
Read Also: Can Chiropractor Help With Insomnia
What Tests Help Confirm A Sleep Anxiety Diagnosis
In some cases, your provider may do a sleep study to find out if you have a sleep disorder. Also called polysomnography, a sleep study is a test where you stay overnight in a sleep lab. Your healthcare provider evaluates how your body works during sleep by checking your:
- Blood oxygen levels.
- Snoring or other noises you make during sleep.
Challenging The Worries And Thoughts That Fuel Insomnia
Its also helpful to challenge the negative attitudes about sleep and your insomnia problem that youve developed over time. The key is to recognize self-defeating thoughts and replace them with more realistic ones.
|Challenging self-defeating thoughts that fuel insomnia|
|Self-defeating thought:||Sleep-promoting comeback:|
|Unrealistic expectations: I should be able to sleep well every night like a normal person. I shouldnt have a problem!||Lots of people struggle with sleep from time to time. I will be able to sleep with the right techniques.|
|Exaggeration: Its the same every single night, another night of sleepless misery.||Not every night is the same. Some nights I do sleep better than others.|
|Catastrophizing: If I dont get some sleep, Ill tank my presentation and jeopardize my job.||I can get through the presentation even if Im tired. I can still rest and relax tonight, even if I cant sleep.|
|Hopelessness: Im never going to be able to sleep well. Its out of my control.||Insomnia can be cured. If I stop worrying so much and focus on positive solutions, I can beat it.|
|Fortune telling: Its going to take me at least an hour to get to sleep tonight. I just know it.||I dont know what will happen tonight. Maybe Ill get to sleep quickly if I use the strategies Ive learned.|
Also Check: What Causes Chronic Sleep Deprivation
How To Sleep Better When Youre Anxious Or Stressed
Disclosure: Some of the links provided in this blog are affiliate links. At no extra cost to you, I may be paid a commission if you use these links to make a purchase.
A few weeks ago I wrote an article about how to sleep better when youre stressed for Sleep Flawless, a website that focuses on all things sleep-related. I really enjoyed writing it because, as a stress case, I usually tend to sleep so poorly when I am extra worried.
I wanted to share with you some of the main points that I found helpful for sleeping better, but you can also read the full article here.
So What Can You Do To Calm Down So You Can Actually Sleep
Well, first off, theres no substitute for seeking help from a mental health professional.
An anxiety or trauma therapist, in particular, can help work with you to reduce your anxiety and panic symptoms.
According to Hahn, there are specific treatments, like EMDR or sensorimotor psychotherapy, which can be helpful in resetting your nervous system and settling your overactive amygdala thats causing your anxiety disorder.
Read Also: How To Sleep Good With Anxiety
Stalked By Chronic Nightmares
Chronic nightmares are another troublesome sleep disorder that can cause fear, says Shelby Harris, PsyD, CBSM, director of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program at the Montefiore Medical Centerâs Sleep-Wake Disorders Center in New York City. Children are especially vulnerable, but adults – especially those who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder — experience nightmares, too.
Joni Aldrich, 57, of Winston-Salem, N.C., began to dread sleep after she lost her husband to brain cancer four years ago. After he had a seizure, she had to make the difficult decision to suspend treatment, an experience that traumatized her.
Every night, she had nightmares of him begging her to help him, but she couldnât. She would awaken shaking. Aldrich finally got help from a counselor and began taking an anti-anxiety medication to help her sleep. âI still take the anti-anxiety medication in a very low dose, because I fear the results otherwise,â says Aldrich, CEO of Cancer Lifeline Publications. âEven one of those nightmares wouldn’t be worth it. And, I still go to bed later than I should just to make sure that I’m really tired.â
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.
Recommended Reading: Is Sleeping On The Couch A Sign Of Depression
Tips To Help You Sleep Better
Even the most effective night-time routine can fall shorton an incredibly stressful night. Keep in mind that while you are gettingyourself into better sleep habits, not everything will work every single time and that is OK. Sometimes figuringout what works for your body is a trial and error process and you simply needto take it one sleep at a time to find out what is right for you.
If you do find yourself still lying awake after you feel you have tried everything you can, consider these 4 suggestions that may help you get to sleep faster on a particularly rough night.
If you enjoyed this, dont forget to check out the full article which has even more info!