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SLEEP AND ANXIETY

Anxiety is frequently connected to sleeping problems. Excess worry and fear make it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep through the night. Sleep issues and anxiety seem to almost always accompany one another. The relationship between sleep problems and anxiety is bidirectional. Lack of sleep can be an anxiety trigger, while anxiety can also lead to a lack of sleep.


Sleep deprivation can worsen anxiety, spurring a negative cycle involving insomnia and anxiety disorders. Insufficient sleep is known to have sweeping negative implications for overall health. As a result, understanding and addressing the links between anxiety and sleep can be fundamental to physical and emotional wellness. Serious sleep disturbances, including insomnia, have been recognized as a common symptom of anxiety disorders. People who are plagued with worry often think about their concerns in bed, and this anxiety at night can keep them from falling asleep. People with anxiety disorders are also inclined to have higher sleep reactivity, which means they are much more likely to have sleeping problems when facing stress.


Sleeping difficulties have been found for people with various types of anxiety including generalized anxiety disorder, OCD, and PTSD. Distress about falling asleep can itself complicate matters, creating sleep anxiety that reinforces a person’s sense of dread and preoccupation. These negative thoughts about going to bed, a type of anticipatory anxiety, can create challenges to healthy sleep schedules and routines.


BUT THEN, even after falling asleep, people may wake up with anxiety in the middle of the night. Going back to bed can be a huge challenge especially if their mind starts racing with worry again. This can lead to sleep fragmentation, reducing both the quantity and quality of their sleep which in turn disrupts the mental and physical health of a person.


Connections have also been found between anxiety disorders and changes in a person’s sleep cycles. Research indicates that anxiety and pre-sleep rumination may affect rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which involves the most vivid dreaming. Anxiety may provoke more disturbing dreams and create a higher likelihood of sleep disruptions. Those dreams and disruptions may reinforce negative associations and fear around going to sleep.


At the same time, strong evidence indicates that sleeping problems are not only a symptom of anxiety. Instead, sleep deprivation can instigate or worsen anxiety disorders. Researchers have also found that people who are prone to anxiety are especially sensitive to the effects of insufficient sleep, which can provoke symptoms of anxiety.


Lack of sleep is known to affect mood and emotional health, which may worsen the challenges posed by anxiety disorders. The bidirectional relationship means that anxiety and sleep deprivation can be self-reinforcing; worrying causes poor sleep, contributing to greater anxiety and further sleep difficulties. That is why it is very important for us to take care of ourselves and use various methods to improve our sleep and get rid of anxiety. It has become even more important in today’s time to tackle these ever-increasing problems. There are many treatments and therapies available for treating sleep disorders and anxiety and reducing stress but the following are some lifestyle tips that can help improve your condition and may help you ease and relax your anxiety at night.

  • Meditation: Meditation is the practice of mindfulness. Meditating right before you tuck in for the night can be a great way to turn down nighttime anxiety.


  • Limit caffeine and alcohol – Drinking too much caffeine or consuming it too late in the day can increase anxiety and inhibit sleep. Consuming alcohol close to bedtime can also increase your heart rate and keep you up.


  • Calm your mind – There are many relaxation techniques that can help you calm your mind throughout the day and improve sleep. Mindfulness meditation, yoga, and breathing exercise can help you achieve calm, but it can also be as simple as taking a walk when you have a short break at work.


  • Limit screen time – Your phone, tablet, and TV emit light that keeps your brain awake, so try to limit them an hour before bedtime. Checking email or doing work right before bed can also trigger anxious thoughts and make it difficult to calm your brain.


  • Exercise daily- Exercise can help improve both sleep quality and duration. If you experience nighttime anxiety, morning exercise may help you sleep longer at night, while afternoon workouts also have sleep benefits. Besides, exercise isn’t only good for improving sleep. It can also help relieve your anxiety symptoms.


  • Create comfort- Pillows and mattresses should be comfortable and supportive for your body and sleeping style. Your bedroom is your own, so making it a comfortable, safe space to sleep can make all the difference for your nighttime anxiety.


  • Ask for help – Sometimes managing anxious worry and improving sleep is more complicated than simply turning off your phone or getting adequate exercise. Never hesitate to ask for help if you need it from your doctor or a counselor.



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