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How to Sleep Better With Anxiety | Sleep Reset

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How Anxiety Relates to Sleep Problems

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Anxiety has a multitude of symptoms, not the least of which is causing problems with your sleep. When you are preoccupied with worries and fears, falling asleep and staying asleep become more difficult. It’s a vicious cycle, too, as your anxiety surrounding sleep can cause your sleep issues to get worse. 

If you’re dealing with anxiety, there are ways to manage and treat your symptoms. It’s also important to pay attention to your sleep habits and take steps to prevent anxiety from depriving you of sleep. In this article, we’ll talk about the link between anxiety and sleep and how you can manage your anxiety and sleep problems. Read on to learn more.

Learn How To Sleep Better With Anxiety

What Is Anxiety?

Anxiety if often described as feelings of worry, fear, nervousness, or unease. While anxiety is normal when you’re feeling afraid or stressed, it becomes a disorder when your anxiety is excessive or continuous. Anxiety is a mood disorder that can affect your daily life. Typically, you can diagnose an anxiety disorder if someone has these feelings for most days over the period of six months or more.

Who Suffers From It?

Anyone can suffer from an anxiety disorder. It’s one of the most common mental illnesses diagnosed. Anxiety can vary in severity, with some people feeling more debilitated by the disorder than others. The worse your anxiety is, the more it can affect your day-to-day life and your sleep habits.

Different Types of Anxiety Disorders

Although anxiety is a broad term, there are actually several different types of anxiety that can more specifically describe someone’s condition. 

  • Generalized anxiety disorder: Generalized anxiety disorder causes a general sense of anxiety and worry about a variety of different things in the individual’s life.
  • Social anxiety disorder: People with social anxiety disorder have a particular fear and anxiety related to social situations. Their fear may center around being embarrassed in social settings or being judged by others.
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder: OCD causes someone to obsess over an issue and induce compulsion to control the source of their anxiety. Compulsions are often repeated over and over again and can cause an impact on the individual’s daily life.
  • Panic disorder: Panic disorder is defined by panic attacks, which are short episodes of intense fear that can sometimes manifest physical symptoms.
  • Phobias: Phobias are intense fears caused by a particular trigger. For example, someone with acrophobia has a fear of heights. 
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder: PTSD is a disorder caused by a traumatic event or situation. Individuals with PTSD may experience triggers that cause them to relive the situation and have anxiety about it.

Identifying your type of anxiety disorder may help you manage and treat the symptoms of your anxiety.

Understanding the Basics

Anxiety can count sleep disorders such as insomnia among its symptoms. Insomnia can be even worse for those with anxiety, as they may worry about their ability to fall asleep at night, making it more difficult to fall asleep and stay that way.

Insomnia can be brought on by anxiety and vice versa. The types of anxiety that most commonly have insomnia as a symptom include general anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Negative thoughts surrounding bedtime can cause sleep deprivation and poor sleep hygiene, leading to further health complications.

Typically, anxiety will make it difficult to fall asleep, but waking up throughout the night can also happen. People with anxiety may experience racing thoughts when they wake up in the middle of the night, making it difficult for them to fall back asleep. Not only does this deprive you of sleep hours, but it also interrupts the sleep cycle, preventing those with anxiety from getting the full benefits of sleep. Lack of quality sleep can make it more difficult to regulate mood and emotions, which can worsen the symptoms and feelings of anxiety.

What Are the Causes?

There is no specific cause of anxiety, as far as research can tell us. More than likely, anxiety is brought on by a number of factors. Anxiety may be a result of genetics, family medical history, and life events or stress. Lack of sleep, certain health conditions, and side effects of drugs and medication may also lead to anxiety disorders.

What Are the Symptoms?

Anxiety symptoms can manifest in emotional and physical ways. The following are some of the symptoms you might expect if you have an anxiety disorder.

  • Sense of nervousness, fear, or stress
  • Difficulty concentrating or focusing because of stress
  • Overwhelming sense of dread
  • Inability to regulate mood
  • Muscle tension
  • Sweating
  • Fatigue
  • Rapid breathing
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Gastrointestinal distress
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Difficulty handling emotions

How to Calm Anxious Thoughts

Anxiety can feel overwhelming, but it’s a very treatable disorder. Although the path to anxiety treatment may not always be easy, there are options available. It’s best to consult a doctor if you’re suffering from anxiety, so you can determine if medication is needed to treat or manage your symptoms.

With that in mind, there are some ways you can calm anxious thoughts and manage or treat anxiety.

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy: Therapy is a great tool for dealing with the emotions that come with anxiety. Cognitive behavioral therapy is specifically geared to helping you reorient negative thought processes. If you have mild or moderate anxiety, cognitive behavioral therapy may be enough to help treat your anxiety. In some moderate or severe cases, medication may be necessary.
  • Medication: Some common medications for anxiety disorders may include anti-anxiety medications, beta-blockers, and antidepressants. These medications can help you manage your anxiety symptoms as you overcome your disorder. As you work on your anxiety, you’ll want to gradually wean yourself off medications under the recommendation and supervision of your doctor.
  • Meditation: Being mindful and practicing meditation can help you live in the present and avoid stress and anxiety about future or past events. It also helps if you incorporate breathing exercises into your meditation routine.
  • Self-reflection: Schedule times to think about your anxiety. It might be a good idea to sit down and think about the reasons you’re anxious. If you have someone to talk to about your anxieties this can help too. Getting your worries out at a dedicated time during the day can help get them off your mind. You can also write them down.

Symptoms of anxiety, and sleep-related problems brought on by anxiety, can also be reduced by introducing good sleep habits and optimizing your sleep hygiene. Here are some good general guidelines for good sleep hygiene if you have anxiety:

  • Create a comfortable and restful sleep environment: Make your sleep environment a peaceful respite where you can relax and let go of your anxiety. Use comfortable bedding, cool the temperature, make sure the room is dark enough for sleep, and ensure the environment is quiet. You may also want to try calming aromatherapy to help relieve stress.
  • Get in the habit of a calming sleep routine: When you wind down for the night, get in the habit of sticking to a consistent sleep routine. Fill your sleep routine with activities that relax you. This might be something like drinking herbal tea, taking a warm bath, and reading a relaxing book.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bedtime: Caffeine and alcohol near bedtime can disrupt your sleep. Caffeine is also a stimulant and may cause you to be more anxious around bedtime. Try to limit caffeine to the morning or early afternoons. For alcohol, it’s a good idea to stop drinking around 4 hours before bed.
  • Explore relaxation techniques: As we mentioned, meditation can help with anxiety, and it can also help with sleep. Relaxation techniques like meditation, breathing exercises, and progressive muscle relaxation can all help you wind down and calm your anxious thoughts.
  • Exercise: Exercise is healthy for both the mind and body. Exercising can help your body feel more tired, making it easier to fall asleep at night. Make sure you don’t exercise too close to bedtime, though, as this can cause you to have too much energy to fall asleep right away.
  • Dim screens and avoid stressful reading: When you’re looking at your phone at night, be sure to dim screens or switch them to night mode. Also, don’t look at any articles or reading materials that induce stress. For instance, if looking at social media makes you feel anxious, block those apps until the morning.

Treatments and medications that work for some people may not work for others. It may take a bit of experimentation to find the right anxiety treatment for your specific needs. If you need support as you work on your sleep hygiene, you can count on Sleep Reset to help.

Take Our Sleep Assessment Today

If you’re having sleep problems resulting from your anxiety, let Sleep Reset help. Our science-backed sleep program is a sleep clinic you can do at home. You’ll get sleep tracking, a dedicated sleep coach, and more to help you get deeper sleep, stay asleep at night, and wake up feeling well rested.

Sleep Reset doesn’t use pills or supplements, so you don’t have to deal with the side effects or grogginess that sometimes come with sleep medication. We just give you proven methods to help you develop good sleep habits and optimize your sleep hygiene. You’ll get a personalized sleep plan that is customized for your sleep concerns and your lifestyle needs.

Try our sleep assessment today to see if Sleep Reset is right for you!