For some people, bedtime (and the hours after) is not a calm, relaxing time to melt into a restful night’s sleep. Instead, it’s a vortex of emotions where panic, fear, and terror collide, ultimately compromising their sleep in serious ways. What we’re talking about here is sleep anxiety. This is a common condition that can snowball into sleep deprivation and many other serious health problems if left untreated.
Ahead Sleepopolis takes a closer look at sleep anxiety. Find out its causes and symptoms, and get some tips to manage its impact on your life and sleep schedule.
What is sleep anxiety?
“Sleep anxiety is characterized not only by the fear of not getting enough sleep, but also by worrying about not being able to fall asleep,” says a behavioral sleep medicine therapist, DC Metro Sleep and Psychotherapy, tell Sleepopolis. “People with sleep anxiety fear that lack of sleep may have some negative impact (i.e., being unable to perform tasks, adverse health effects, etc.).”
Fear and anxiety about not getting enough sleep are often present throughout the day, but these feelings are usually exacerbated at night, says Miller.
“Sleep anxiety before bed is usually because it’s quietest at night,” she says. “After a busy day, your brain has more time to think and worry without distractions.”
Plus, it doesn’t take long for sleep anxiety to subside. Conditional reaction. ” This means that your brain begins to associate fear with sleep, and the anxiety cycle repeats itself every night.
What are the symptoms associated with sleep anxiety?
in the meantime sleep anxiety symptoms It varies from person to person, but the most common symptoms are:
- Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
- growing fear
- fast heart rate
- difficulty breathing
- muscle tension
Beyond the physical and biological storms, those who struggle with sleep anxiety every night are often caught in a loop of racing thoughts. , I’m focused on staying awake,” he said.
Common thoughts that accompany sleep anxiety include:
- not getting enough sleep
- I will be tired tomorrow
- I won’t be able to concentrate enough to finish the work tomorrow
- I toss and turn all night long
- something is wrong with me
What Causes Sleep Anxiety Before Bed?
Sleep anxiety triggers vary from person to person. Common causes of sleep anxiety include fear, other sleep disorders, mental health conditions, and sleep disturbances.
“Sleep anxiety is often rooted in the fear that something terrible will happen while you are asleep,” says Miller. I think we should be awake, vigilant and vigilant.”
Interestingly, other sleep disorders such as insomnia Several Parasomnia It can cause or exacerbate sleep anxiety.
“Sleep anxiety is very common in insomniasays Miller. And in this case, the symptoms and effects between the two are cyclical. If someone is dealing with insomnia on a regular basis, the mere thought of not sleeping can trigger sleep anxiety.
Parasomnias are another trigger for sleep anxiety. Specifically, parasomnia that can harm the sleeping person or her loved ones. sleepwalkingfor example. nightmares and night terrors It can also cause sleep anxiety – rightly so. Horrifying images and dreams are enough to wake anyone up.
mental health status
mental health status Anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, PTSD, schizophrenia, etc. can also cause sleep anxiety. For example, depression can cause sleep anxiety, and lack of sleep as a result of sleep anxiety can cause depression.
This may be a relatively new phenomenon, but Sleeping disorder, or the obsession with getting the perfect sleep based on sleep tracker data, is becoming a major trigger for sleep anxiety. I can’t sleep at all. Unfortunately, what was supposed to help you get more sleep backfires.
What if I wake up with anxiety?
Occasional sleepless nights are nothing to worry about, but deep-seated sleep anxiety can lead to many problems well beyond missing 40 winks. Lack of sleepits side effects range from minor afflictions to more serious health concerns.
over- short term sleep deprivation What is attributed to sleep anxiety can be:
- moodiness and irritability
- daytime sleepiness
- memory impairment
- impaired reaction time
- Increased stress response
persistent sleep deprivation Over the course of weeks, months, and even years, it can lead to more serious health problems such as:
- high blood pressure
- heart attack
- Heart disease
Can sleep anxiety lead to insomnia?
According to Miller, sleep anxiety can lead to insomnia. “When you fear negative consequences [of sleeping]After that, our brains respond to fear and feelings of imminent danger by releasing cortisol and adrenaline. So instead of going into relaxation mode for sleep, our bodies end up feeling hyper-alert or alert, that is, feeling fully awake. , you are dealing with insomnia right now.
Also remember that sleep anxiety and insomnia have a two-way relationship (as mentioned above).
How to overcome sleep anxiety
Sleepless nights are not normal. According to Miller, if you’re suffering from sleep anxiety too often, making lifestyle changes and changing your sleep hygiene could be the key to turning a blind eye. .
Limit your sleep schedule
“This sounds counterintuitive, but one of the biggest problems with sleep anxiety is spending too much time in bed,” says Miller. “Limiting your bedtime to specific times of the day is essential. This is a good way to build a sleep drive so that your body craves sleep. Ultimately, this will help you fall asleep more easily. It helps me get to grips with
Get out of bed if you can’t sleep
Just like limiting your sleep schedule, Miller recommends “limiting how long you try to sleep.” For sleep anxiety, Miller suggests taking up to 15 to 20 minutes to sort things out. If it’s time and you still can’t sleep, “wake up, get out of bed, and do some quiet activity until you’re sleepy again,” she says.
don’t watch the clock
Miller suggests not worrying about the time, because looking at the clock only exacerbates the fear and frustration. Instead, she recommends “set your morning alarm and put your phone across the room or turn your alarm clock around.”
Track disturbing thoughts and replace them
In a manner similar to journaling, Miller suggests challenging those thoughts by noting or writing down disturbing thoughts about sleep (that is, if you don’t sleep, you won’t function tomorrow). . Ask yourself, Is this true? Probably not.
“Most of the time you can get through the day without any problems,” says Miller. “We become so focused on other things that we even lose sight of our fearful thoughts.” “recommend to.
Other Tips for Managing Sleep Anxiety
- practice good sleep hygiene – (This includes maintaining a consistent sleep and wake-up schedule, establishing relaxing bedtimes, limiting screen time, exercising regularly, and creating a comfortable sleep environment. increase.)
- To meditation
- Avoid stressful activities and conversations before bed
when to see a doctor
“If you’re really worried about whether or not you can sleep and you’re very fixated on your sleep hygiene, see your doctor,” says Dr. Shelby Harris of Sleepopolis. Sleep Health Director.
If sleep anxiety (and subsequent insomnia) persists more than three times a week for more than three months, you should also consider seeing a doctor, says Miller.
Miller added, “Although many medical professionals focus on treating insomnia with medication, sleep doctors prescribe sleep studies when symptoms indicate the need for sleep studies. Additionally, therapists and providers of behavioral sleep medicine may [Cognitive Behavioral Therapy] For insomnia, it can help change your thoughts and behaviors about sleep. ”
Last Words from Sleepopolis
Sleep anxiety is a common condition characterized by fears about sleep. In addition to persistent worry about sleep, sleep anxiety may be accompanied by physical symptoms such as palpitations, shortness of breath, sweating, dizziness, or muscle tension. It can be managed, but if symptoms persist, it is advisable to consult a doctor.
Sharon Brandwein is a Certified Sleep Science Coach and freelance writer. She specializes in beauty, health, child-rearing, and sleep in general. Sharon’s work has also appeared on ABC News, USAToday and Forbes. When she’s not busy with her writing, you might find her organizing a puppy’s wardrobe somewhere else.