Sleep Anxiety: What is it, Causes, Symptoms & Treatment
Imagine going to bed, all set for a busy next day, only to end up tossing and turning, feeling restless instead of calm. Well, some of us experience it occasionally. But for some, it is an every night routine because of sleep anxiety. Today, almost 93% of Indians suffer from sleep deprivation where sleep anxiety also plays a significant role. In this guide, we are here to tell you everything you must know about sleep anxiety, its symptoms, and also the best medication for anxiety and insomnia. Keep reading for more!
What is Sleep Anxiety?
Sleep anxiety is a condition where you are apprehensive about going to sleep. It can make it difficult for you to fall or stay asleep. Sometimes, sleep anxiety is also associated with an immense fear or phobia of sleep known as somniphobia. In this phobia, people tend to believe that they must stay alert and watchful or they may believe that things may go wrong if they fall asleep.
Anxiety and sleep tend to go together. If you have severe anxiety syndrome, you may also have a sleep problem and vice versa. When you are fueled with extra worry, it causes sleep disorders and lack of sleep can be the reason for anxiety. They are both interlinked.
What Are the Types of Anxiety Disorders?
Anxiety is one of the main elements of several types of disorders. The most common types of anxiety disorders are;
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
People suffering from generalised anxiety disorder may suffer from persistent worry about several things, making one overwhelmingly anxious.
One of the main factors of a panic disorder is that an intense sense of fear grips you severely for a few minutes.
Social Anxiety Disorder
As the name suggests, social anxiety disorder is when you have an extreme fear of facing a social setting and a fear of potential embarrassment in front of a group of people.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
In this condition, people are obsessed with specific traits in a negative manner, which leads to anxiety.
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
PTSD is a condition a person goes through after a painful and/or disturbing situation where they may relive the memory repeatedly and live on the edge.
What Are the Symptoms of Sleep Anxiety?
While symptoms of sleep anxiety can differ from one person to another, the most common ones are;
Physical: Fast heart rate, palpitations, shortness of breath, breathing difficulty, shaking, nausea, dizziness, sweatiness and chest pain.
Mental: Feeling extreme fear or being too worried, altered sense of reality, confusion, unable to concentrate.
Behavioural: Avoiding bedtime, feeling agitated before bed, pacing or freezing.
Affective: Feeling at edge, nervous, impatient, frustrated, and frightened.
Sleep: You have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, tossing and turning most of the night, and not feeling comfortable during sleep.
One of the main symptoms of sleep anxiety is that as soon as you close your eyes to go to sleep, you may experience restlessness or negative thoughts. If it becomes an ongoing issue disrupting your sleep, you must speak with a doctor.
What Is the Relationship Between Anxiety and Sleep?
There is an undeniable relationship between sleep and anxiety. Long ago, it was seen that insomnia was a common symptom of anxiety disorder and an overstimulated mind caused by anxiety is a common symptom of insomnia. Also, sleep disorder is a common factor in people suffering from types of anxiety, such as OCD
When you are too worried about the next day or tensed about falling asleep can evoke a sense of anticipation anxiety. Also, a link between a person’s sleep cycle and anxiety has been seen. And what’s more difficult is that people prone to anxiety disorders are more sensitive to the effects of insufficient sleep.
How to Fall Asleep with Anxiety
If you are experiencing anxiety disorder symptoms, it is essential to speak with a doctor as it is a treatable mental disorder. One of the most common treatments doctors use is cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). It is a talk therapy that helps reprogram your mind and help decrease anxiety. CBT is known to provide great success in helping people combat anxiety.
Anxiety and sleep share a complicated relationship. However, a good night’s rest can greatly reduce anxiety symptoms to a great extent. If CBT doesn’t work, your doctor may also prescribe medications based on your condition.
How Can I Overcome Anxiety at Bedtime?
You can also do a few things to relieve anxiety during bedtime. This can help you enjoy a good night’s rest. However, this is not a replacement for the treatment. You can also try these remedies along with therapy.
Practice Good Sleep Hygiene
Proper sleep hygiene can do wonders when it comes to helping you sleep. Some of the activities you can include if you can’t sleep because of anxiety are;
- Limit screen time before bed as the blue light from your electronic devices can be harmful and hamper your sleep
- Don’t do any major exercise or heavy lifting before bed
- Don’t consume heavy meals close to bedtime
- Always soak up the sun as soon as you wake up as it stabilises your circadian rhythm
- If you take napes, limit them to 20 minutes
- Keep your bedroom dark and cool before bed
- Have a consistent bedtime
Research shows that diaphragmatic breathing before bedtime can be beneficial in reducing any anxiety you may suffer from. Therefore, if you can’t sleep of anxiety, you can always practice meditation. However, if you are not used to meditation, start slow. You can first start with five minutes and then proceed from there.
Regular exercise can be super beneficial to help you achieve a good night’s rest. So, how to sleep better with anxiety? A moderate-intensity workout, such as a brisk walk an hour or two before bed, may be useful. However, make sure you avoid any strenuous activities.
Set Aside Time for Winding Down
How to sleep with anxiety? Try relaxing techniques. Instead of just going to bed, set aside 30 minutes or so to do activities that calm you down. It can include journaling, reading a book, listening to soothing music and more.
Avoid Stressful Activities Before Bed
When transitioning from daytime to evening and then night, your mind needs some time to get used to it. Therefore, if you have just returned from work, don’t try to go to bed immediately. Instead, give it some time. Indulge in your sleep routine to prepare for bed.
Write Down Your Worries on Paper
Instead of letting thoughts run wild in your mind, put it on a piece of paper. It is as beneficial as speaking to a friend. Write all your worries down. You can also start journaling if it helps you. Just write down whatever comes to mind. It doesn’t have to be anything specific and there are no rules here.
Avoid Lying in Bed Awake
Try again if you have been awake for more than 20 minutes and cannot fall asleep. Don’t simply lie on the bed when there is an onslaught of negative thoughts. Instead, try reading a book or listening to some music for a few minutes and try again. As mentioned earlier, these activities can help you relax.
Limit Screen Time
There are two reasons why you must avoid screen time before bed. The first is the blue light emitted by your phones. It can confuse your body’s internal clock and suppress the production of melatonin, our sleep hormone. Second, you must not overstimulate your mind before bed. For instance, most of the time people scroll through social media when on phone, it can lead to a variety of emotions and even anxiety. Therefore, avoiding electronics an hour or two before bed is essential.
Set Your Environment
Make sure your bedroom environment is ideal for sleep. Keep it dark and cool to promote quick sleep. Generally, 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit is perfect for sleep. But see what works best for you. If you don’t like sleeping in a dark room, you can opt for a dim light.
If you stay close to the main street and the traffic or other loud noise leads to disturbance, white noise can be ideal for you.
Get a Bed That Fits You
A lumpy old mattress adds to the discomfort you are suffering from. When you close your eyes, you want them to feel cosy. Hence, if your mattress is leaving you flustered and irritated each night, get something that’s suitable for you.
When to See Your Doctor?
Treatment becomes necessary if your anxiety has been interfering with your sleep and making it difficult for you to enjoy a good night’s rest. Also, it is essential to visit your doctor if;
- Your sleep anxiety is causing daytime sleepiness
- Your sleep anxiety is causing insomnia
- It is affecting your focus and concentration
- Your sleep anxiety is making it difficult for you to function
Sleep anxiety is when you are stressed about sleep. If not combatted in time, it can make it difficult for you to function every day properly. But the good news is that sleep anxiety is a treatable condition. Follow the tips above to help make bedtime easier for you.
Do I have Somniphobia?
If you have somniphobia, you may experience the symptoms mentioned below;
- Feeling extreme fear or anxiety when you think of sleep
- You feel exhaustive distress when it gets close to bedtime
- You tend to avoid sleep as long as possible
- You may have panic attacks as you try to sleep
- You may have trouble focusing on things
- It causes irritability or mood swings
- You may have memory problems
Why does anxiety get worse at night?
Some of the reasons why your anxiety may be worst at night are because of your daily stressors, poor sleep habits, and other sleep conditions.
Is Sleeping anxiety a thing?
Yes, sleep anxiety is real. It is when your anxiety hampers your sleep cycle. Infact, if your sleep anxiety is severe, it is essential to seek treatment right away.
Is nighttime anxiety a thing?
Yes, nighttime anxiety is known as sleep anxiety. You can try some of the methods mentioned above to help you sleep better at night.
Does anxiety worsen with age?
No. Anxiety disorders don’t necessarily worsen with age. But it can be more commonly seen as you get older as we tend to encounter stressful experiences only as we age. Generalised anxiety disorders are more common in older adults.
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