Anxiety has the potential to negatively impact your life in a variety of ways, including the quality of your sleep. This blog covers the ways in which anxiety affects your sleep when caused by general and chronic worry and nervousness. We also explore sleep anxiety for those who fear falling to sleep.
Why Sleep Is Important?
Sleep is essential for optimal health. It is when our minds and bodies recharge and self-heal. Without adequate sleep, your immunity and brain function decrease. You are likely to have a difficult time concentrating, thinking clearly, and remembering things both significant and trivial. Not to mention that you are likely to feel drained and irritable.
The average adult requires 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. More if you are sick, pregnant, recovering from an accident or injury, or are unable to sleep for large blocks of time.
There are many things that can keep us up tossing and turning at night, including anxiety. We all struggle with worry and nervousness from time to time. If you can’t sleep due to anxiety for more than 6 months you may have developed an anxiety disorder.
How Anxiety Affects Sleep?
Just one night of sleep disruption can leave you feeling less than your best. If your anxiety is short-term, you may be so tired that you may sleep well the following evening. However, you may endure a mix of low and high-quality sleep, until the cause of your worry or nervousness is resolved.
A few examples of things that can keep you up at night include:
- Finals week at school
- A big deadline at work
- Speaking in public
- A sick family member
- Financial stress
- High levels of stress
- Unplanned life change—laid off at work, unexpected separation, new boss, etc.
Most of these examples will pass. When finals are over or the project at work is complete, you will go back to your normal sleep habits. However, worrying about a sick family member, adjusting to a new boss, or the stress of being laid off can last far longer. For example, the anxiety of COVID-19 left many of us with sleepless nights. Even the anxiety of returning to work and getting back out into the world is causing sleep disruption.
Now let’s discuss sleep phobia.
What Is Sleep Anxiety?
Sleep anxiety is a phobia and sleep disorder – it’s when you have a fear of falling asleep. This stems from an evolutionary fear that served us well thousands of years ago. We are at our most vulnerable when we are sleeping because our guard is completely down. However, if we have a safe and healthy place to sleep, this fear is not as reasonable in our modern times.
Sleep anxiety can affect both children and adults. Examples include the fear of the dark or that a monster is hiding in the closet or under the bed. It does not include short-term sleep fear, such as adjusting to the nighttime sounds of a new home. Sleep anxiety is a chronic condition where you have an extreme fear of falling asleep on a regular basis.
What Are Sleep Anxiety Symptoms?
Sleep phobia in children can sometimes be resolved with products such as aromatherapy “monster spray” or hopping in bed with their parents. Children typically grow out of their sleep anxiety, but therapy can help. The remaining tips in this article will also help but working with a trained therapist will provide you with tools to manage your phobia.
Sleep anxiety symptoms include:
- Feeling fear when you think about sleeping
- Increased distress as it gets closer to bedtime
- Avoiding sleep even when exhausted
- Having nighttime panic attacks
- Daytime worry regarding bedtime
Physical symptoms of sleep phobia include nausea, digestive troubles, increased heart rate, sweating, difficulty breathing, hyperventilation, or children being clingy at bedtime.
How Can I Calm My Anxiety At Night?
If you are stressed or anxious all day long, it’s time to create a nighttime routine that will help you wind down for the day.
Begin by identifying triggers or stressors that increase your nighttime anxiety. For example, it may be the most convenient time in your schedule, but watching the news before you head to bed can increase your anxiety. In general, keep stressors to a minimum at least 2 hours before bedtime.
Invest 15 minutes or more, in a calming nighttime routine including any mix of:
- Journaling to get the stress of the day out.
- Gratitude journaling to focus on the positive.
- Taking a shower or warm bath.
- Stretching or a PM yoga routine.
- Creating a sleep affirmation.
How Do You Fall Asleep With Anxiety?
Now it’s time to discuss how to sleep when stressed and anxious. Just like everything else, your sleep must be a routine part of your day.
Aim to head to bed and wake up at the same time, even on the weekends.
Keep your electronics out of the bedroom and stop drinking caffeine at least 8 hours before bedtime.
Utilize a sound machine, guided meditation, or sleep app to help you drift off to sleep.
Try taking melatonin and CBD 1 hour before bedtime to help calm your mind and body.
Practice deep breathing exercises or blink rapidly for 60 seconds to mimic REM.
Research suggests that you should get up and do something relaxing if you can’t fall asleep. The key is something relaxing such as reading and not gaming, working, or browsing the internet.
Workout at least 4 days a week and add massage to your schedule to release physical tension.
What Is The Best Sleeping Position For Anxiety?
This topic is open for a lot of debate. Generally, sleeping on your back is best for neck and spinal alignment. However, you must find a position that is the most comfortable for you.
If you like sleeping on your back, try sleeping in the starfish position, with one or both arms over your head and your arms bent. Sleeping on your side while hugging a pillow can be comforting. Or lay on your side in the fetal position, which is a restorative way to sleep.
Want to Try CBD For Anxiety?
*Holmes Organics does not provide medical advice. Please consult your physician regarding all nutritional supplements.**
Now that you understand how anxiety affects your sleep, you may be considering CBD. Holmes Organics offers a variety of USDA-Certified CBD products. Our article on CBD For Sleep will help you choose which product is right for you!