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Anxiety and insomnia are sometimes intrinsically linked. If you have both, they can feed into each other and exacerbate each other’s symptoms. This vicious cycle can be hard to break, especially if you don’t know where to start.
If you’re looking to break the anxiety and insomnia cycle, you’ll need to work on treating and managing symptoms of both. In this article, we’ll talk about sleep anxiety and ways you can reframe the way you think about sleep.
Sleep anxiety is the experience of having fear, worry, or stress about going to sleep. Typically this anxiety stems from the fear that you won’t be able to fall asleep or stay asleep, and can be worse when you have something important to do the next day.
Even outside of anxiety about falling asleep, sleep and anxiety are often connected—with a lack of sleep worsening general anxiety. In fact, a lack of sleep can often bring on anxiety. These two conditions tend to bring out the worst in each other, and it’s important to address both if you want to get truly restful and restorative sleep.
When you have sleep anxiety, you may experience symptoms such as:
Anxiety can also manifest physical symptoms, such as:
Sleep anxiety can happen to anyone, it can be caused by genetics, stress, or just how your brain works. For some, sleep anxiety can be related to other health conditions or sleep disorders, such as:
It’s important to understand your symptoms and identify the other factors that could be contributing to your sleep anxiety. This can help you break the anxiety and insomnia cycle.
As you’re trying to detangle anxiety from insomnia, it can be important to distinguish between sleepiness and fatigue. According to American Psychological Association’s Stress in America 2022 report, 57% of adults with a higher average stress level reported feeling fatigued, compared to 15% of those with lower than average stress levels. But fatigue does not necesarrily translate to good sleep—leading to frustration for those experiencing anxiety.
Sleepiness is your body’s way of telling you that it needs sleep. In a natural circadian rhythm, this sleep drive will happen at night, making you feel drowsy and signaling you that it’s time to go to bed.
Fatigue, on the other hand, occurs when you feel like you don’t have enough energy or you feel especially tired. You may have a desire to rest or lie down, but you won’t feel a strong desire to sleep like you do when you’re experiencing sleepiness.
When you mistake fatigue for sleepiness, you may try to go to bed but lie awake tossing and turning instead of falling asleep. This can cause you to feel frustrated and feed into your sleep anxiety. It’s important to only go to bed when you feel sleepy not just when you’re feeling fatigued.
Coping with stress and sleep problems requires work on both sides of the issue. Until you address your anxiety, it will be hard to get better sleep—no matter what steps you take. For help with anxiety, consider the following solutions:
Once you start treating your anxiety, you may notice that sleep comes more easily. If not, that’s okay too! That doesn’t mean that your anxiety isn’t getting better, but it does mean you may need to rethink your sleep habits.
Sleep anxiety, in part, is anticipatory anxiety—the fear or worry that something bad will happen. When anticipatory anxiety is about not getting enough sleep, feeling tired in the morning, or never falling asleep, it can make the entire process of going to bed miserable.
It can help to reframe the way you think about sleep. Look at sleep as an investment. Every time you sleep for an hour, it’s like putting money in your savings account, and that account will pay dividends for you in the future. Looking at sleep as an investment can help you remember the big picture and bring your sleep goals into focus.
We’ve talked about ways you can work on your anxiety, and we’ve reframed the way we think about sleep. Now let’s talk about what you can do to improve your sleep experience. Sleep hygiene involves optimizing your sleep environment and improving your sleep habits. When you have good sleep hygiene, it can be easier to fall asleep at night, which can help you overcome your sleep anxiety.
Here are some tips for improving your sleep hygiene and getting more restful sleep:
Going to bed shouldn’t make your anxiety worse. The way you think about sleep can have a big impact on your sleep patterns and habits. Try ro remember that:
If you want to start treating your sleep anxiety, it’s best to start reframing the way you think about sleep. But you don’t have to do it alone, because Sleep Reset can help!
When you’re starting your journey to overcoming sleep anxiety, choose Sleep Reset to help you every step of the way. Our science-backed sleep program uses proven methods to help you fall asleep faster and wake up feeling refreshed. There are no pills and supplements, either, which means no grogginess or side effects.
Sleep Reset can reduce your sleep anxiety and help you fall asleep in minutes with a personalized sleep program tailored for your sleep concerns. You’ll also get a dedicated sleep coach, sleep tracking, and access to our sleep app. Sleep Reset is a self-sleep clinic that you can do in the comfort of your own home.
Ready to fall asleep faster, stop waking up in the middle of the night, and wake up well rested? Take our sleep assessment today to see how Sleep Reset can help you!