How To Control Your Sleep Anxiety
If you’re not getting a good night’s sleep, then you’re probably one of the more than 40-million Americans suffering from an anxiety disorder. How is it possible to be anxious when you’re going to sleep? Isn’t sleep supposed to be a therapeutic function that reduces feelings of anxiety?
Anxiety affects every biological action the body takes, including your sleep. Medical professionals refer to feelings of stress that prevent an individual from falling asleep as “sleep anxiety disorder.”
What is Sleep Anxiety?
As your head hits the pillow, you close your eyes and take a deep breath. It’s been a rough day at the office and your boss in on your case for turning in that report at the end of the week. You take another deep breath and wait for the comfort of sleep to drift you away to dreamland.
Two hours later and you’re still wide awake. Why can’t you seem to turn off your mind? Why do you continue thinking about that report? The hour’s tick by and before you know it, the first rays of sunlight creep into your bedroom. It’s morning, you need to be at work in a few hours, and you haven’t slept a wink.
What Causes Sleep Anxiety?
Sound like a familiar story? This scenario is textbook sleep anxiety. The disorder develops from a feedback loop in your adrenal system. The hormones cortisol and adrenaline are out of balance. Stress produces excess cortisol which then feeds a spike in adrenaline. The more you stress about things in your life, the more cortisol and adrenaline run through your bloodstream.
This “fight or flight” response by the adrenal glands helps when lions are chasing you on the plains of the African wilderness. Unfortunately, times have changed and now its bills, work demands, and social pressure that form the new-age lion we’re all running from, even at bedtime.
How to Treat Sleep Anxiety?
Unfortunately, there’s no “cookie-cutter” treatment strategy for curing sleep anxiety. Everyone has a unique hormone response to environmental stress, and every person deals with stress differently.
Our diet, exercise regimen, and ow we spend our downtime all play a significant role in determining our overall stress level. Consulting with a medical professional is the first place to start in dealing with your sleep anxiety.
Visit your doctor and tell them about your situation. Your physician will ask you qualifying questions regarding your lifestyle to help determine the source of your anxiety. Expect the doctor to take a blood sample for analysis as well. A blood panel will screen your hormone system for signs of an auto-immune disorder, such as adrenal fatigue, responsible for your condition.
What Helps Sleep Anxiety?
Expect your treatment to include an overhaul of your lifestyle. There may be multiple factors contributing to your disorder that require immediate change. Your doctor’s priority at this time is to help you establish and maintain a set sleep time.
Depending on the severity of your condition, your physician may prescribe sleeping drugs or over-the-counter sleep aids which assist you with falling asleep. Don’t think that you can get away with using drugs as a means of soothing your sleep anxiety – they’re a tool, not a crutch.
Eventually, you’ll need to uncover the source of your anxiety and work on ways to reduce the stress in your life.
5 Tips to Improve and Manage Sleep Anxiety
How many cups of coffee do you drink each day? Energy drinks and coffee are a significant cause of elevated levels of stress in many people.
Set a Cut-off time for Screen Time
Two hours before bed, turn your phone onto airplane mode and don’t look at the screen again until your alarm goes off in the morning.
Join a yoga class and learn how to breathe and stretch. This activity helps your body relieve the stress of the day.
Medicate if Necessary
Follow your physician’s advice on medication. Never self-medicate to induce sleep, this behavior could wind up in dependency to sleep aids for falling asleep.
Practice Better Sleep Hygiene
Sleep hygiene refers the period leading up to your bedtime. Optimize your behavior for sleep in the two hours before you retire to bed. Don’t eat in these two hours and minimize liquids. Meditate for a few minutes to calm your mind. Take a relaxing bath to prepare your body for sleep. Purchase a good bed, comfortable linen, and supportive pillows to get the most out of your time between the sheets.