If you’re affected by anxiety, and it prevents you from quickly falling asleep at night, you’re not alone. According to Mind, 1 in 6 people report experiencing anxiety or depression in any given week in England. Therefore, having trouble falling asleep is a common issue among people affected by anxiety. Today’s blog will go through the symptoms of sleep anxiety and how you can combat them.
Sleep anxiety can occur in various ways and intensities. Some can be anxious or worried about not being able to fall asleep quickly enough or at all.
Frequently, general anxiety and insomnia can be linked, and their symptoms can often exacerbate each other. For example, suppose you’re affected by general anxiety and worried about getting to sleep. This can cause you to stay awake, which is the main symptom of insomnia. How each condition worsens each other can make it very challenging to treat them independently. This is otherwise known as bidirectional comorbidity.
For others, it can be much more extreme than this. Somniphobia is the fear or phobia of sleep. Those affected by it need to stay awake because they think something terrible will occur when they are asleep.
Anxious emotions are natural human responses to feeling under threat, tense or afraid. Human psychology has evolved to be highly complex in modern times. However, the basic psychological “tasks” thousands of years ago were survival and reproduction. Anxiety is derived from the survival aspect of our psyches and is crucial to keep humans out of danger.
Today, anxiety can be linked to physical sensations, thoughts or feelings regarding the present or future. The intricacies of the human mind and the revolutions of contemporary society mean we associate anxious feelings with a much broader scope of things, including sleep.
There are a large array of symptoms that go beyond the typical trouble falling asleep, tossing and turning, or the inability to get comfortable.
Physical symptoms include rapid breathing, shortness of breath, fast heart rate, sweating, chest pain or dizziness.
However, it isn’t just physical, as there are many behavioural and cognitive symptoms. For example, behavioural symptoms refer to behaviours we adopt, such as avoiding bed and pursuing other tasks rather than going to bed. Cognitive symptoms relate to mental processes such as thinking and emotions, such as the fear of losing control, lack of concentration, frightening thoughts, or an altered sense of reality.
First and foremost, we recommend speaking to your GP or health professional if you’re affected by anxiety. They can recommend treatments specific to your needs, such as cognitive behavioural therapy or medication.
Aside from this, you can adopt changes in your day-to-day life that could help ease your anxiety. Here, we will go through these simple changes to help you sleep better in the long run.
Several studies have shown that mindfulness can improve anxiety symptoms. But what is mindfulness? It’s about getting back in touch with how our bodies feel rather than “living in our heads” and noticing the world around us. To get clued up on how to approach mindfulness, you can explore what the NHS has to say about it.
Your post-work cup of tea is a nice treat at the end of a working day. Still, caffeine can affect your body up to 8 hours after consumption. After all, an effect is increased heart rate, which can exacerbate anxious feelings and make it harder to fall asleep. We recommend limiting caffeine intake after 2pm and reducing your overall caffeine consumption.
Going to sleep drunk can often help you fall asleep quicker; however, it drastically lowers your sleep quality. Once you wake up, you may feel your anxiety has intensified and could struggle to fall back asleep.
Moving your body doesn’t mean you need to be lifting weights at the gym 5 days a week; it can be something as simple as going for a walk or doing some yoga. If you work at a desk all day, taking a walk when you’re off the clock can work wonders for your mental health and sleep.
If your bedroom is too light or noisy to get to sleep, this may be preventing you from nodding off quickly. Or, on the other side of the spectrum, your sleeping environment might be too quiet. Introducing white noise and a sleep eye mask might be the solution to distract your brain from anxious feelings or nervous thoughts before you go to bed. Whatever it is, finding what works for you is paramount to combat sleep anxiety’s woes.
Suppose you’ve exhausted everything to combat sleep anxiety. In that case, it may be because your bed isn’t supporting you as it should. Explore our “5 ways of telling it’s time to replace your mattress” blog, and discover our versatile options available on our site today.