Do you worry about not being able to sleep? Maybe you worry about not falling asleep, or perhaps you are anxious about waking up frequently during the night. Others may suffer from somniphobia, a fear of sleep. They try to avoid sleep because they need to stay watchful and alert, worrying that something terrible might happen while they slumber.
Sleep anxiety is an increasingly common problem that often goes hand in hand with other mental health issues, such as anxiety. People with anxiety disorders may find it difficult to drop off or remain asleep. And if you have sleep anxiety, you may feel more anxious at bedtime because you fear not getting enough rest. It's an eternal cycle in which each condition makes the other worse.
Luckily, several measures can safely help people with sleep anxiety. For example, Bach Flower Mix 87 can help you feel calmer, confident and less anxious, so you sleep better and enjoy a better night's rest.
Sleep anxiety can affect people of any age, from children to teens and adults. Those with conditions such as sleep apnoea, sleepwalking and insomnia are more at risk of developing anxiety at night. Mental health disorders including bipolar disorder, depression, drug addiction and PTSD may also be accompanied by sleep anxiety.
Anxiety is the most prevalent mental health issue, with around 40 million people in the US affected. And many of those suffering from anxiety will also experience disrupted sleep.
Stress and anxiety are natural - we have evolved to feel worried when facing a dangerous situation. Anxiety triggers the stress hormones that can help us escape from harm. But with chronic anxiety, you feel afraid and stressed all the time, and you may even feel fearful of day to day things like falling asleep.
High levels of stress hormones make it hard to fall asleep. And when you finally drop off, you are more likely to wake up after a few hours and be unable to fall back to sleep. Anxiety can also affect REM sleep( the cycle of sleep when you dream), and your sweet dreams may turn into nightmares!
Sleep anxiety can lead to a range of symptoms, including poor concentration, irritability, nervousness, a raised heart rate, sweating and panic attacks. Nocturnal panic attacks happen only during the night, disrupting your sleep.
There are several ways to treat sleep anxiety, including:
Sleep hygiene or sleep habits are the nightly routines that affect sleep. Try keeping a sleep diary to identify factors that might be causing your sleep anxiety. Practical tips for better sleep include:
CBT is a talking therapy that can help you avoid environmental factors and behaviours that trigger your sleep anxiety. For example, you may learn to avoid negative thoughts about sleep, and your therapist might suggest meditation, yoga or breathing exercises to help you relax.
If your sleep anxiety is caused by insomnia or restless legs syndrome, your doctor may suggest medication to relieve the symptoms. But be aware that some medications may make sleeping more difficult. And be careful with over the counter medication as some can be habit-forming.
Eating healthily, exercising regularly, developing good sleep habits, and taking any medications for anxiety prescribed by your physician, will all help prevent sleep anxiety from becoming a problem.
Sleep anxiety can usually be managed effectively with the correct treatments. But some treatments, such as CBT, can take several weeks to show results, so don't be impatient or give up too soon.
Poor sleep or chronic anxiety affects the body in ways that may surprise you. Sleep anxiety can affect your physical health, placing you at increased risk of severe conditions such as diabetes, cardiac disease, high blood pressure and stroke.
Sleep anxiety may affect every facet of your life, from your relationships to your performance at school or work. Many people find it helpful to talk about their poor sleep and sleep anxiety with a support group who have had similar experiences or with family, friends and therapists.
Although being afraid of being unable to sleep can significantly impact your life, this common type of anxiety is very treatable. Our tips will help you get a restful night and awake refreshed and ready to face the day.
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