Skye likes writing about mental health, nutrition, and wellness. She is passionate about sharing information that will educate, and positively affect people's lives.
February 4, 2021
Sleep anxiety is characterized by uneasiness or fear surrounding sleep itself – as well as the ramifications of not getting enough sleep.
One of the things that many people look forward to throughout the day is cuddling up in bed. While fluffy pillows and warm blankets may sound inviting, it’s often a place where people can feel stressed, anxious, and unnerved.
Sleep anxiety is a very real thing, and if you’re someone who’s struggling, there are actions you can take at home to get rid of it and take back control of your sleep cycle. This article will go over what sleep anxiety is, sleep anxiety symptoms, anxiety sleep medication, and other treatments.
Sleep anxiety is a form of performance anxiety. If you’ve ever had to do a public speech or perform in an event, you might know what this feels like.
Many people can become stressed at the thought of not getting enough sleep, having nightmares, dying while sleeping, and more. This can be enhanced for those struggling with sleep disorders like insomnia or sleep apnea.
According to The American Institute of Stress, “There are also people that suffer from both anxiety and insomnia, with each symptom being independent of the other. In these cases, known as bidirectional comorbidity, the two conditions can exacerbate each other, and it can be difficult to treat both independently.”
Sleep anxiety has many of the same symptoms as other forms of anxiety. If you think you’re struggling with it, consider making an appointment with your doctor.
Some of the most common symptoms of sleep anxiety include the following.
Whether you struggle with this yourself or know someone who is, you may wonder how the two are connected. Millions of Americans face anxiety every day in one situation or another. Sleep is no exception.
How can someone feel anxious during a time when they’re supposed to be most relaxed? Several causes could be the culprit.
When we stress over things like this, we create hormones like cortisol or adrenaline, which prohibit us from falling into a deep, restful sleep.
For many, it’s something much more chronic. In short, a lack of sleep can lead to anxiety, and an increase in stress can disrupt your sleep.
A study done by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America discovered that over half of Americans feel that anxiety affects their sleep in one way or another.
Before being able to give someone treatment, it’s helpful to rule out other things that could be causing the anxiety. If you’re overthinking something coming up on your schedule, a simple over-the-counter sleep aid might help.
Of course, if you’re taking any medication, you should consult your doctor before adding any supplements or other drugs.
Some medical conditions that might be causing sleep anxiety are:
If the root problem is anxiety itself, there are several things you can do at home or with your doctor that can help alleviate the worry.
A simple cup of chamomile tea may not be a cure for everyone. Working with a therapist to help treat the anxiety with a form of psychotherapy such as cognitive-behavioral therapy might provide the relief you’re looking for.
Psychotherapy is a long-term option that looks into why you’re feeling anxious. It can assess trauma and other causes that may be disrupting your daily life. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, it can take three to four months of cognitive-behavioral therapy before patients start seeing results.
For many people, a dual approach is the best option. Your doctor will suggest combining medication with therapy. This is often the go-to method for many mental health disorders, and studies show this to be the most helpful route to take.
Your doctor might prescribe an anti-anxiety drug like Prozac to combat anxiety attacks that come and go. If you’re struggling with chronic anxiety, you’re more likely to get prescribed an antidepressant that also works for anxiety. It’s important to note that these drugs can take eight to 12 weeks to work, though many feel relief much sooner.
In addition to medication from your doctor, regular therapy visits, and assessing if any other health issues are the cause, there are things you can do at home to find relief.
Breathing Exercises: When we perform breathing exercises, our body naturally reduces the stress hormone cortisol. Whenever you’re doing breathing work, it’s important to make sure the exhale is longer than the inhale. For example, take a deep breath in to the count of four, hold for four seconds, and release for six seconds. You can put your hands on your belly or chest to feel it fill up with air to help your focus.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation: This involves tensing muscles, holding them, and releasing them. There are several progressive muscle relaxation guides online that can help you release tension that could be from anxiety.
Meditation: Meditation and being mindful are popular ways to reduce daily anxiety. There are a myriad of meditation apps that can help anyone. If you’ve never meditated before, remind yourself that your mind wandering is natural.
Turn Off Electronics: An hour or two before bed put your phone down and turn off the TV. Excessive exposure to blue light can interrupt our body’s natural sleep cycle. Grab a book, talk with a loved one in person, do a crossword, or take a warm bath to relax and get ready for bed.
Sleep anxiety may be causing harm to your daily life. Whether you’re experiencing nightmares, are nervous about a meeting with your boss, or anything else, know that it’s manageable.
Using medication, seeking therapy, and creating a healthy environment for sleep can rid you of this anxiety. Online doctors can help you with your journey to a better night’s sleep. Doctors at our partner site, PlushCare, can prescribe medication to help you sleep as well as anti-anxiety medication. PlushCare also offers online therapy for those looking to treat the root cause of their sleep anxiety.
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