Here's How To Stop Anxiety From Ruining Your Night
- Nighttime anxiety causes fatigue and powers you down.
- Understanding its causes and implementing relaxation techniques will gradually free you from the clutches.
- Finding a strategy that works best for you and prioritising self-care to improve your overall well-being is essential.
- Therapy and support groups can offer solutions and never hesitate to take help.
- Tips for a restful sleep to manage nighttime anxiety help you to conquer your night-time anxiety issues.
It is typical of humans to worry about things in life. But sometimes, this worry turns into mental stress. It is a vicious cycle- home, work or study stress etc., that creeps into your daily life and gets deep-rooted as anxiety!
Sometimes, these tend to get worse at night. Nighttime anxiety refers to feelings of worry, fear, or unease that specifically occur or intensify during the evening hours or when trying to sleep. It is distressing as it interferes with the ability to relax and fall asleep, leaving us restless and tired the next day.
This article aims to provide insights into nighttime anxiety, its impact on sleep, and practical tips to achieve restful sleep. Read on to understand the causes and effects of nighttime stress and to find effective strategies for managing it.
The link between anxiety and sleep
Anxiety and sleep are closely interconnected and can significantly impact each other. Poor sleep due to stress makes you feel tired and irritable and hampers concentration to perform daily chores effectively. It can further contribute to anxiety, as the inability to function optimally causes increased worries and stress.
It creates a vicious cycle that affects our overall well-being. Increased anxiety levels are recognized as one of the most critical consequences of sleep deprivation. Meditation to calm anxiety attacks is a widely used technique to reduce anxiety.
Sleep disturbances caused by anxiety
- Anxiety can disrupt sleep, and poor sleep can contribute to or increase anxiety symptoms.
- When you are anxious, the increased heartbeat or muscle tension keeps your mind alert and prevents your body from relaxing to drift off into sleep.
- Anxiety can cause you to wake up in the middle of the night and have difficulty falling back asleep.
- People with chronic anxiety can have insomnia and can’t sleep at night!
- Also, some fall into sleep instantly, but having anxiety causes experience distressing or vivid nightmares during sleep as their mind is not calm, instead is filled with worries.
- Inadequate sleep was associated with significantly increased odds of frequent mental distress.
Managing nighttime anxiety: tips for a restful sleep
Managing nighttime anxiety is crucial for promoting a night of restful sleep. It throttles your next day, and you can be productive. It gives a sense of accomplishment and will tone down your anxiety at night.
Understanding nighttime anxiety and its impact on sleep
- Nighttime anxiety refers to feelings of worry, fear, or unease that specifically occur or intensify during the evening hours or when trying to sleep.
- Such people focus more on their worries, lying in bed without the distractions of the day.
- The general symptoms of nighttime anxiety are- fear about the future, restlessness, headaches, stomachaches, tight muscles, increased heart rate, sweating, chest discomfort, chills, tingling sensations, nightmares etc.
- Anxiety causes panic attacks, which increases the adrenaline that produces- a “fight or flight” response in the body. It causes fatigue, and you feel sleepy after a panic attack.
- Nighttime itching anxiety is another symptom that disturbs sleep. Not only is itch associated with increased anxiety, but stress has also been shown to exacerbate itch, leading to an actual itch-anxiety cycle. Many chronic itch patients report that psychological stress is a factor that aggravates their irritation.
- Nighttime separation anxiety is experienced by a child when they are away from their parents at night. It may also happen when you lose a loved one, separate from your spouse etc. Hearing strange noises, fears, and nightmares are all part of this.
Causes of nighttime anxiety
Anxiety is the body’s response to an impending threat. Nighttime anxiety is distressing, as it can interfere with your ability to relax at night and fall asleep. The causes for it vary from person to person, and it includes:
- Lack of sleep: The modern lifestyle forces many to compromise their recommended sleep hours and get things done. People with nighttime anxiety spend less time in deep sleep essential for restoring the body and mind, thereby increasing mental distress.
- Daily life stress factors: Stress in life, work troubles, illness, and the death of a dear one can all be temporary, but these stressors can cause anxiety in the long term.
- Trauma: Any kind of trauma like a natural disaster, violence, car crash, childhood trauma etc., can cause post-traumatic stress disorder, panic attacks, worry, nighttime anxiety and disturbed sleep patterns.
- Genetics: Multiple genes are associated with anxiety disorder and are triggered by exposure to trauma or chronic stress.
- Side effects: The side effects of high doses of steroids, amphetamines, antihistamines, herbal supplements or excess caffeine and nicotine can trigger anxiety.
- Medical conditions: Certain conditions like heart disease, hyperthyroidism, diabetes, chronic pain, irritable bowel syndrome etc., trigger anxiety. Also, those with insomnia, nightmare syndrome, and nocturnal panic attacks will have disturbed sleep patterns and nighttime anxiety.
- Nighttime anxiety with newborns: It is a common condition among new mothers. It can be called postpartum anxiety as moms suffer from lack of sleep, and hormone changes and feel overwhelmed as new parents.
Strategies for managing nighttime anxiety
Nighttime anxiety causes sleep deprivation, which impacts your functioning, quality of life, and overall health. If you are troubled with nighttime stress, sleep deprivation or looking for ways to beat anxiety without medication, adopt these tips for a restful sleep to manage the nighttime anxiety:
1. Create a comfortable sleep environment
- Your bedroom should be calm, dark and quiet with dim lights.
- Use earplugs, sleep masks and blackout curtains.
- Comfortable mattresses, pillows and lighting lavender-infused oils or candles will add to the calmness.
- Try a comfortable sleeping position for anxiety, such as spreading limbs- shooting star or starfish position, which opens the body, increases the blood flow and allows for sound sleep.
2. Creating a relaxing bedtime routine
- Fix the sleep and wake cycle routine. A lack of high-quality sleep can worsen anxiety symptoms.
- Anxiety after a nap is a common symptom where you feel sleep inertia (the groggy and disoriented feeling after waking up) and have nightmares, worries or concerns about pending tasks, leading to increased anxiety.
- You can do calming activities like reading a book, taking a warm bath, praying, practicing deep breathing exercises, journaling or listening to soothing music.
- These will calm the brain and cause the body to wind up.
- Establishing a routine for anxiety will give you more time to relax and experience lesser stress.
3. Avoid stimulants before bed
- Avoid stimulants like caffeine and nicotine that increase body activity and make it more difficult to fall asleep.
- Avoid blue lights from electronic devices, which suppress the sleep hormone melatonin, which makes it harder to fall and stay asleep.
- Avoid alcohol before going to bed.
- Hot drinks to calm anxiety, such as chamomile and lavender tea, can be had before bed.
4. Prioritizing regular exercise
- Daily exercise will help to reduce anxiety and thereby help improve both sleep quality and duration.
- Early morning workouts are beneficial for nighttime anxiety.
- Avoid exercising late in the evening as it acts as a stimulant alerting the body.
5. Implementing stress-reducing techniques
- Relaxation techniques like deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, mindfulness meditation, etc., can help calm your mind and body.
- Meditation for anxiety and sleep calms the body and clears out the mind, and regular practice provides long-term benefits to the body and soul.
- A stress nap can be an effective strategy for managing stress and improving overall well-being as it helps temporarily to escape your anxiety.
- Meditation for stomach anxiety is also beneficial as it calms gastric disturbances and allows restful sleep.
6. Seeking professional help
- You are not alone, never have shame in seeking help from mental health practitioners for anxiety, insomnia etc.
- They can offer support and a variety of tools for coping with anxiety.
- Cognitive behavioural therapy is also beneficial in people with insomnia. Challenging negative thought patterns that contribute to anxiety and replacing them with positive thoughts gives you the willpower to sustain.
- Therapy sessions and support groups can offer valuable insights and coping strategies from others who have experienced similar challenges.
- Open up to your loved ones for support when dealing with nighttime anxiety.
Nighttime anxiety can affect both the mental and physical health of a person. To break the vicious cycle of nighttime anxiety and insomnia, the person should understand the cause, consciously do mind relaxation techniques, make lifestyle modifications, seek support and practice good sleep hygiene etc., to have a relaxed night.
The quality of your night's sleep determines a lot the next day. To conquer the day, you should win the night’s battle. Remember, you are never alone, and this phase shall pass! Your positive will and efforts will get you through!
Frequently Asked Questions
Practising relaxation exercises, prioritizing regular exercise, seeking professional help, setting a consistent sleep schedule, avoiding stimulants and blue lights before bed, creating a relaxing bedroom environment, journaling, deep breathing exercises or progressive muscle relaxation etc., are some of the techniques that will help you have a relaxed night.
Antsy or restlessness can be due to the consumption of stimulating medications, overconsumption of caffeine, nighttime anxiety, hormonal imbalances, neurologic problems, pain, mental health conditions etc.
Good sleep hygiene, meditation for anxiety and sleep, practising relaxation techniques before bedtime, mindfulness meditation, avoiding stimulants at night, having hot drinks to calm anxiety etc., can all help.
To get rid of panic attacks at night, try listening to calm and gentle music, reading an inspirational book, implementing relaxation techniques, doing breathing exercises, yoga stretches, or doing any job that you find tedious so that your focus gets shifted and tiring you which will help to fall into sleep instantly. Getting help from an expert is highly recommended too.
Lack of sleep cause increased anxiety and panic attacks. Common sleep disturbances associated with anxiety include difficulty falling asleep, waking up frequently at night and experiencing vivid dreams or nightmares. A panic attack may cause a fast heart rate, palpitations, shortness of breath, rapid breathing, chest pain, dizziness, sweating, nausea, shaking etc.
Yes. There are ways to beat anxiety without medication by undergoing lifestyle changes and holistic therapies. Knowing what triggers your anxiety and seeking help from therapists and support groups also can give tips to manage anxiety. Being physically active, quitting stimulants, practicing good sleep hygiene, relaxation techniques, breathing exercises, balanced diet etc., help a lot in anxiety management.
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Sep, 15 2023
Sep, 05 2023