Do you have difficulty falling asleep? Do you toss and turn and worry about the day’s troubles and can’t get to sleep? Do you get thoughts of impending doom and are terrified of going to sleep? You may be suffering from occasional sleep anxiety or insomnia when life gets a little worrisome. Or you may be troubled by generalized anxiety disorder if this is recurring and seriously affecting your sleep and quality of life.
You are not alone. More than 40 million adults in the US suffer from some sort of anxiety. We live in a fast-paced world and it’s sometimes difficult to shut off our brains in order to get to sleep. We all know that restful sleep is vital to lead productive lives. Let’s take a look at some ways you can overcome sleep anxiety.
What Is Anxiety
Anxiety is a state of being where your mind and body go into a sort of panic mode. This stems from our survival mechanism and can be felt subtly or it can be overwhelming and paralyzing. Levels and recurrences vary greatly with people who experience anxiety.
Most people will have the occasional bout of worry that will manifest in some sort of anxiety. Raised heart rate, shortness of breath, and other unpleasant physical symptoms may occur when experiencing anxiety. This usually resolves when the problem is solved and they can get back to their lives and activities.
Some people will develop overpowering and debilitating anxiety that interferes with their quality of life and can cause sleep deprivation. Sleep apnea sufferers sometimes experience sleep anxiety because they are afraid to fall asleep knowing that their breathing will become irregular during the night. Other sleep disorders like restless leg syndrome, snoring, or sleepwalking may also trigger sleep anxiety.
Insomnia is oftentimes closely related to anxiety. It’s normal to have the occasional restless night but when it becomes incessant and affects your productivity and daily life it’s time to look into some solutions.
What Is Sleep Anxiety and Insomnia
Sleep anxiety and insomnia indicate that you have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. There are different types of insomnia.
- Acute Insomnia
Acute Insomnia is when you have occasional bouts of having difficulty falling asleep or waking up and having trouble falling back asleep. This is most times related to a stressful life event and resolves on its own.
- Chronic Insomnia
You may be experiencing chronic insomnia if you can’t fall asleep easily more than three times a week and if this has been going on for more than two months.
- Onset Insomnia
Onset insomnia is characterized by difficulty falling asleep when you first go to bed.
- Maintenance Insomnia
You may fall asleep easily but wake up during the night and can’t fall back to sleep. This is called maintenance insomnia.
Sleep anxiety and insomnia can have some negative effects on your life and need to be looked into if you feel your quality of life is not what it used to be.
Effects of Insomnia on Your Health
Left untreated insomnia may cause you to experience other health issues.
- Risk of seizures
- Weakened immune system
- Weight gain
- Increased risk of heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Diabetes Mellitus
- Memory loss
- Shortened life expectancy
Tips to Get a Better Night’s Sleep If You Have Anxiety and Insomnia
Getting restful sleep is vital to your health. There are several things that you can try to implement into your sleep habits to beat your sleep anxiety and insomnia.
Here are some tips to help you manage your anxiety and get you to sleep.
Your bedroom should be an oasis for calm and should not be stressful. There are ways to make your sleep area peaceful by controlling the light, noise, and temperature.
Make your bedroom as comfortable as you can with blackout curtains and a relaxing color scheme. Bright colors tend to raise excitement levels and can keep you from relaxing. Limit the noise in your bedroom and invest in a white noise machine if you need to. If Snoring is causing interruptions and stress it is important to address it with a comfortable and effective solution.
Keep the climate nice and cool in your bedroom to achieve better sleep.
Limit Caffeine and other Stimulants
Drinking coffee and alcohol close to your bedtime can seriously affect your sleep. Dose down on the coffee intake in the afternoon and drink a lot of water.
Limit Screen Time
Your smartphone, tablet, or TV can have negative effects on your eyes and brain and keep you from getting to sleep. Try to read from a book instead of your device if you like to read before bedtime.
Turning off screens an hour before going to sleep can have positive influences on your insomnia.
Learning to meditate before bedtime can calm your mind and ease you into a deep sleep. Try to leave your problems for the next day as nothing will get resolved during the night. Concentrate on the good and positive things that you have in your life and be grateful.
Listening to calming music can also help keep your mind away from your troubles and diminish your anxiety.
Exercise has proven health benefits and can also help with your sleep anxiety and insomnia. Regular workouts during the day can help lower anxiety and stress. Exercise early in the day but not in the evening before bedtime as this can trigger excess energy that will keep you from falling asleep.
Don’t Stay in Bed
Get up and do something if you have not fallen asleep inside of 30 minutes. Staying in bed and worrying will only prolong and exacerbate your anxiety level. Read a book, take a shower, or drink a cup of calming tea and try again.
Stick to a Sleep Schedule
Try to form healthy sleep habits by going to bed at the same time every day. Incorporate some of these tips and apply them every night before bedtime.
Keeping track of your bedtime routine and documenting the times you wake up in the night can help you to find specific problems that need addressing. Also, a sleep diary can help your doctor should you resort to seeking medical attention for your sleep anxiety.
Naps can be beneficial when a boost of energy is needed during the day. Limit your naps to short periods no longer than an hour during the day so as not to impede on precious nighttime sleep.
When To See Your Doctor
These tips that we mentioned should help ease anxiety and minimize acute insomnia. You may be suffering from chronic insomnia if none of these things have helped you get to sleep and stay asleep.
It may be time to check in with your doctor who may schedule a sleep study to get to the bottom of your sleep disorder. A sleep specialist can recommend a treatment program that may involve therapy and medication.
Sleep Better, Live Better
There’s no need to suffer from sleep deprivation. Of course, we all have occasional stress that comes from difficult work situations, grief, or challenging family problems. Dealing with the stressful event and not avoiding it can help you to stave off insomnia. Going to bed knowing that you have solved, or partially solved, your problem can help lower the anxiety level.
Remember to make your bedroom as peaceful and quiet as possible. This is the place you come to unwind and relax. You don’t have to redecorate your room completely - a few rearrangements can have a huge positive impact on your quality of sleep.
When we sleep better, we live better.