Sleep anxiety is part sleeping disorder, part anxiety disorder and researchers and physicians aren’t entirely certain which issue causes the other.
People who have been diagnosed with anxiety often have trouble sleeping. And patients with sleeping disorders often develop anxiety due to a lack of rest, so the two conditions are inherently linked.
But when the two issues are compounded – and a person is constantly worried about the fact that they can’t get to sleep – that’s when sleep anxiety comes into play.
Quality and Amount
Sleep anxiety starts when you’re worried about the quality and amount of sleep that you are receiving. Perhaps you’re anxious because you need to catch your Zzzs for a big interview or meeting in the morning, or maybe you’re stressed about the amount of sleep you are getting and how it’s affecting your day-to-day life.
Regardless of the underlying reason, the stress and anxiousness about getting a good night’s sleep makes it impossible to do so.
In essence, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, and the more you worry about being tired, the more your stress hormones increase, keeping you wide awake.
It’s a fairly familiar feeling for many people who are stressed out about sleep. You may watch the clock counting down the hours before you have to wake up, or may even turn to sedatives or night caps to make a good night’s sleep easier to achieve.
But the problem with turning to short term solutions like medication or chemicals is that they might work, but not for long.
In fact, people with sleeping disorders are often adversely effected by sedatives, alcohol and other unnatural sleep remedies, as these quick fixes can interrupt essential sleep cycles and make it easier to wake up in the middle of the night.
With that being said, some ways sleep anxiety sufferers can quiet their brains, and drift off to sleep, stress free.
Doctors recommend that people who suffer from regular sleep anxiety try meditation or deep breathing, which trains the brain to ignore distracting and unhelpful thoughts.
Also, distractions without artificial light – such as gentle podcasts, soft music or reading a book – can keep you from focusing on the importance of going to sleep, and allow you to drift off naturally instead.
Above all else, if worrying about sleep and sleep quality becomes a regular habit, it’s time to talk to a physician.
Sleep anxiety can be a sign of a mood or anxiety disorder, a sleeping condition like sleep apnea, or all of the above, and the best way to determine the underlying cause is to seek medical care.
It’s certainly not uncommon to be concerned about achieving a good night’s rest. Quality sleep effects so much of our waking hours, from our ability to think clearly, to our ability to stay energized throughout the day.
But when a little worry turns into a nightly routine of being stressed, it’s time to get sleep anxiety under control.
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