Suffering from anxiety is bad on its own. After all, you never know when you are going to become anxious about a situation and possibly have a panic attack. On top of the other mental health issues that arise from suffering from anxiety, many people also have sleep issues as a result. If you suffer from anxiety and also are having trouble sleeping, there are a few things that you can do to help manage anxiety-related sleep problems.
Tips to Manage Anxiety Related Sleep Problems
When you have stressors in your life, there is a good chance that you struggle to get to sleep at night, or perhaps you just cannot stay asleep. Your worry about all of your problems can keep the brain from shutting down. This lack of sleep will further your anxiety the next day, which can cause even more problems.
What Comes First?
When dealing with sleep-related issues, you might wonder what comes first. Do you start by having trouble sleeping, which then exacerbates your anxiety, or do you have anxiety that is disrupting your sleep? The relationship between sleep and anxiety is considered to be bidirectional. This means that sleep deprivation might cause anxiety and anxiety can cause a lack of sleep. Since sleep disorders and anxiety disorders have a very strong relationship, it is a good idea to address both issues when you discuss them with your medical provider. Your doctor will be able to provide you with medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Below we discuss treatment options for people struggling with anxiety-related sleep problems.
When you discuss your sleep issues with your doctor, your next step might be to go to a sleep clinic as a way to get more information about your struggles. A mental health professional might provide you with information about sleep and help you come up with a plan to be able to sleep through the night. In order to treat both anxieties and sleep-related issues, a professional will often recommend anxiety therapy, medication, or possibly both. One type of psychotherapy that is often useful for this type of mental health issue is cognitive-behavioral therapy. Mindful meditation might also be recommended by your therapist or doctor as a relaxation technique to help calm your overthinking mind.
Moving your body is an important and helpful way to help lower anxieties and improve your overall sleeping habits. However, you should not exercise right before you are trying to go to sleep as this can affect your sleep and cause sleep disturbances. Waking up and moving your body or taking a break in the afternoon to exercise can help you get your waking and sleeping cycle on track. Exercise is often recommended as a treatment for sleep apnea and chronic insomnia.
Control the Environment
Taking control of the sound, temperature, and lighting in your room can help you get to sleep easier and stay asleep throughout the night. Keeping your bedroom dark and cool can greatly increase your chance of getting rest. Taking a cool bath or shower before you go to bed can help to lower your temperature, which can also help you go to sleep faster.
Caffeine and Alcohol Consumption
Consuming caffeine late in the day could be one of the reasons that you are feeling anxious at bedtime. Try to stop consuming caffeine earlier in the day. Additionally, drinking alcohol in the evening can cause your heart rate to increase, which can also keep you awake at night. You should drink water throughout the day, but do not consume as much right before you go to bed as the thought of having to go to the bathroom can keep you alert and anxious throughout the night.
Calming your Mind
Yoga, meditation, and deep breathing exercises are just a few things that you can do to help you achieve mental calmness before falling asleep. You might also want to start practicing ways to clear your head throughout the day. This can be as simple as taking a short walk on your lunch break from work. Practicing these things throughout the day can help make it easier to trigger relaxation responses when you are ready for bed.
Many people make the mistake of using their phone, television, or computer at night right before they want to go to sleep. Doing work, even just checking email before you go to sleep can trigger anxious thoughts that make it hard to get your brain to calm down. Try setting an alarm as a reminder to shut off screens at a specific time before bed. Sleep studies show that listening to music or reading a book can help ease your mind.
Asking for Help
There are times when anxiety-related sleep problems are a bit more complicated than exercising or turning off your phone. If you are truly struggling, make sure that you talk to your doctor or mental health therapist about the issues that you are having so that you can get proper treatment.
- Feelings of nervousness, or restlessness
- Increased heart rate
- Having a sense of impending danger, panic, or doom
- Hyperventilation – rapid breathing
- Feeling weak or tired
- Inability to think about or concentrate on anything other than the present worry
- Gastrointestinal (GI) problems
- Urge to avoid things that trigger anxiety
Types of Anxiety Disorders
- Anxiety disorder due to a medical condition
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Panic disorder
- Selective mutism
- Separation anxiety disorder
- Social anxiety disorder (social phobia)
- Specific phobias
- Substance-induced anxiety disorder
Blue Sky Counseling Omaha
I, Carly Spring, M.S., LIMHP, LADC, CPC, offer my specialized expertise to assist in the healing process to anyone who may be experiencing and suffering from a vast spectrum of mental health issues such as behavioral problems, anxiety, depression, grief, loss, trauma, addiction issues, and life transitions. I believe strongly in applying a holistic perspective addressing your whole person not just the bits and pieces of you. Contact Blue Sky Counseling Omaha to talk with an anxiety therapist in Omaha, NE today.