Sleep Anxiety: How to Manage It?
Sleep problems are one of the most common symptoms of anxiety. They have a hard time falling asleep and getting the much needed rest. In the United States, anxiety is the most frequently occurring mental health condition.
What is sleep anxiety?
Sleep anxiety is the constant feeling of fear or worry about the act of falling asleep. People who are having this kind of problem often find themselves having difficulty falling or staying asleep. In some cases, some people may experience a specific fear of sleep known as somniphobia. Those with this fear have the thought that something bad will happen to them while they are asleep, so they need to remain awake and vigilant.
Sleep is a very important aspect of maintaining good mental health. Insufficient sleep can leave you feeling anxious and irritable the following day. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, adults require at least seven hours of sleep per day to sustain optimal health. Failing to get enough sleep can result in poor mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression.
Sleep anxiety impacts people of all ages, including adults, teens, and children. If you are experiencing a sleep disorder such as insomnia, narcolepsy, restless legs syndrome, sleep apnea, or sleepwalking, you may be at a higher risk of developing anxiety during the night.
In addition, people with certain mental health disorders may experience nighttime anxiety. This includes anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, depression, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and schizophrenia.
What are the symptoms of sleep anxiety?
If anxiety is preventing you from sleeping, you may experience changes in your behavior, such as:
- having difficulty concentrating
- feeling irritable or nervous, being restless, and
- sensing an impending danger.
It can also manifest physical effects, such as:
- digestive issues
- increased heart rate
- rapid breathing,
- triggers sweating, tense muscles, and trembling.
Inadequate sleep can significantly impact your emotional and mental well-being, potentially worsening your anxiety symptoms. Sleep deprivation can lead to increased feelings of anxiety, further disrupting your sleep routine and potentially creating a cycle of sleep issues. Seeking treatment for your this condition may be the best course of action to improve your sleep quality.
How do you manage sleep anxiety?
If you find yourself struggling to fall or stay asleep due to negative and racing thoughts, it is possible that you have an anxiety or sleep disorder. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to minimize this and improve the quality of your sleep.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Ongoing and guided therapy with a professional counselor or therapist is a common and effective treatment for anxiety disorders. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a type of therapy that helps people with anxiety disorders create new and positive thought patterns, can be particularly effective. There are three types of CBT, each with its own approach to treatment, including interpersonal therapy, thought records, and modern exposure therapy.
Your therapist might employ biofeedback to instruct you on sleeping with anxiety. Biofeedback aids in controlling your body’s operations, teaching you to relax your muscles, manage your breathing, decrease your heart rate, and focus your attention. Your therapist may utilize specialized sensors to gauge these physiological processes, or they might provide you with exercises like meditation and deep breathing to practice at home.
Your healthcare provider may suggest the use of chemical treatments for anxiety. This form of treatment can also alleviate the symptoms of sleep-related disorders like insomnia or restless leg syndrome. However, some oral treatments may initially increase anxiety or make it difficult to sleep. If you experience these side effects, it is important to consult your doctor right away. Avoid taking any anxiety or sleep chemical treatments without the supervision of your healthcare providers.
Healthy Sleeping Habits
Your bedtime routines can have a significant impact on your sleep quality. Your doctor may ask you to maintain a sleep diary for a few weeks, which is a daily record of your sleep patterns. This can help identify factors that may interfere with your sleep.
There are several ways to improve your sleep routine, including:
- Sleep and wake up at the same time each day.
- Do not consume caffeine or alcohol in the late afternoon or evening.
- Do not drink lots of water or fluids before going to bed.
- Practice meditation or yoga to relax your mind.
- Listen to soft and peaceful music.
- Avoid using your phone or watching television 30 minutes before bedtime.
- Do not visit your social media accounts to avoid seeing things that may cause anxiety.
- Keep your bedroom comfortable and quiet.
With proper treatments, most individuals can effectively handle their anxiety related to sleep. However, certain treatments, like CBT or oral treatments, may require some time to take effect. Do not terminate the treatment too soon if you feel like it is not working.
Sleep anxiety can have a significant impact on various aspects of your life, including your work and social relationships. Discussing your sleep anxiety with a therapist, colleagues, family, or friends can be helpful. Support groups can also provide a sense of community and connect you with others facing similar challenges.
If your sleep anxiety becomes unbearable, visit Mindshift Psychological Services. We offer treatment programs for anxiety and depression. Check out our website to learn more about us. You may also contact us at (714) 584-9700 to schedule an appointment.