Last updated on July 21, 2019by
Have you ever thought about how anxiety affects sleep habits?
Ask yourself this:
Do you have trouble sleeping because you have anxiety, or do you have anxiety because you have trouble sleeping?
Both are a possibility. Did you know? Read on.
The relationship between anxiety and sleep
You’re anxious and stressed during the day and you can’t sleep at night.
You have all these thoughts running through your mind about what you should or could have done or said differently, you think about the argument you had with your colleague, or you worry about the bills that need to be paid tomorrow even though your salary is not reflecting in your bank account yet…
Your brain has gone into overdrive, it is NOT ready to sleep yet, and it is vindictively making sure that you are aware of this.
You’re definitely not alone in this.
At least 8 out of 10 adults have experienced some form of sleep-related disorder sometime during their life. Between 50 and 75% of people who have Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), also experience problems with sleep, such as interrupted sleep, insomnia, or restless leg syndrome.
The important thing here is to recognize your symptoms and deal with them head-on before they have a chance to grow into something even more serious.
Studies have proven that GAD and sleeping problems are definitely interrelated. Anxiety can cause sleeping problems as much as a lack of sleep can lead to anxiety.
The trick is to break the cycle by dealing with both conditions, however, it is much easier to start by fixing your sleeping habits and sleep hygiene first.
The causes of anxiety are usually far more deep-set, and often requires long term work with a professional, so AnxietyPanda recommends that you tackle your sleeping problem first.
It’s not a problem to work on both conditions simultaneously, in fact, it’s better. Just expect to see results in the sleeping department first.
How does anxiety affect sleeping habits?
An article from Verywellhealth made a great comparison that explains how anxiety affects your sleeping habits.
They compare anxiety to a bell being rung. It’s hard to sleep with a bell going off the whole time, right?
It grates your nerves and keeps you awake and alert.
To make things worse, the bell only gets louder as you may now start worrying about the fact that your inability to fall asleep, will cause problems for you the next day due to tiredness or such… and so the snowball begins…
Every anxious thought adds to the loudness of the bell.
This makes it difficult or even impossible to sleep, leaving you feeling completely exhausted, irritated and groggy the next day.
This brings about its own set of complications, as you will read in the next topic.
Neuroscientists have discovered that a lack of sleep triggers activity in the same part of the brain that is triggered when feeling anxious or worried.
How does lack of sleep affect anxiety?
Another study suggests that the brain uses dreams to process emotional and physical events of the day. If you don’t sleep well, you don’t reach REM – the dreaming state of sleep. You are unable to process and let go of these events and this causes you additional stress and worry.
How will I know if I’m getting enough sleep?
* The following information is not “set-in-stone”, and should merely be seen as recommendations. Each individual has different needs. Work with your health professional to establish the perfect ratio for your needs, or tweak the hours as you feel fit.
The National Sleep Foundation recently reviewed its scientifically formulated recommendations for different age groups as follows:
Tips for a better rest
* Schedule your sleeping times, as you would any other activity.
* Go to bed at the same time, and get up at the same time every day. Yes, that includes weekends.
* No caffeine or alcohol at least 3 hours before bed. In fact, try to minimize all liquid intake before bed. If you really have to drink something, why not opt for the adaptogenic and caffeine-free Tulsi tea instead?
* Make sure your room is nice and dark with little to no noise. Your bedding should be comfortable and so should your mattress.
* Don’t watch television or use your computer or cellphone at least 2 hours before bed.
Did you know that toddlers and young children can suffer from night terrors and anxieties? For a comprehensive guide on what this is, how it differs from a nightmare, and how you can help your little one overcome this, read Moms Loves Best’s article: Fright at Night: Helping Your Toddler’s Night Terrors