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Welcome to my blog post “How to treat insomnia due to anxiety”
I truly hope it will help you beat your Insomnia demons!
What is Insomnia?
Insomnia is the difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. This normally leads to symptoms like fatigue, low energy, mood swings & irritability.
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a nervous disorder characterized by a state of excessive uneasiness and apprehension, typically with compulsive behavior or panic attacks.
What Causes Anxiety?
Anxiety may be caused by a mental or physical condition, the effects of drugs or a combination of these. A Doctor will try to establish if your anxiety is caused by a medical condition. Anxiety can be even be hereditary.
Common causes of anxiety include these mental conditions:
- Panic disorder symptoms are, palpitations, dizziness, shortness of breath
- General Anxiety disorder
- Phobic disorders
- Stress disorders
Common external factors can cause anxiety are:
- Stress at work
- Stress from school
- Stress from personal relationship
- Financial stress
- Stress from serious illness
- Side effect of medication
- Use of illicit drug, such as cocaine
- Stress from emotional trauma, such as death of a loved one
- Symptoms of a medical illness, such as heart attack, heat stroke, hypoglycemia
What are the symptoms of Anxiety?
Anxiety disorders share some general symptoms:
- Panic attacks
- Heart palpitations
- Shortness of breath
- Dry mouth
- Tense muscles
- Not being able to stay calm and still
- Cold sweaty, numb, tingling hands or feet
What is Insomnia due to Anxiety?
Some people have impaired sleep due to illness or some physical reason, such as uncomfortable mattress, noise, lights, etc. But people who have anxiety normally have it because of varying degrees of worry. “Anxiety is an emotion that actually wakes us up” says Steve Orma, PsyD, a clinical psychologist and author of stop worrying and go to sleep:how to put insomnia to bed for good
He adds “There are all kinds of physical changes happening that ramp you up, which is the exact opposite state of what you need to be in when you’re trying to fall asleep”
Having myself suffered with Anxiety related Insomnia for many years I can certainly agree with that. Once the Insomnia starts, you start to worry about not sleeping, so guess what? You don’t sleep well with all the anxiety about sleeping and the vicious circle goes round and round. Not sleeping, worry about not sleeping, not sleeping, on and on……
I have often spent nights tossing and turning, my head spinning with anxiety. I’d fall asleep for a couple of hours, then wake up and spend the rest of the night staring at the ceiling or the clock until the alarm goes off. Then your tired the whole day until the night starts all over again.”THIS CAN’T GO ON” I would shout to myself! But it did, for a long time. It’s only now, after years of learning what I now know, about Insomnia & Anxiety that I am able to control these worries and feelings of dread for the night ahead. Hopefully, some of my experience will help you to overcome your demons. I sincerely hope so.
We have identified quite a few fixes for Insomnia both physically and mentally, but we need Anxiety related cures for Insomnia due to Anxiety. Don’t forget some of the physical reasons for Insomnia such as –
- Restless Legs Syndrome
- Sleep apnea
- Cardiovascular disorders (heart failure etc)
- Pulmonary disorders
- Thyroid disorders
- GI disorders (acid reflux)
- Neurological disorders (pain)
- Caffeine or alcohol use
All of these can of course, make you more anxious in general, not just about sleep but about your physical condition, just more ammunition to the vicious circle. And of course, depression can set in quickly.
How do I reduce my Insomnia due to Anxiety?
By implementing some or all of the previous mentioned sleep hygiene methods, such as-
- Limit daytime naps
- Limit late night snacks or meals
- Avoid rigorous exercise before bed
- Avoid watching TV in bed
- Avoid cell phones, Tablets, Lap tops in bed
- Reduce light and noise in the bedroom
- Go to bed at regular time each night
- Try to wake up same time each morning
- Follow a bedtime routine that allows you to relax, try hypnosis or meditation
- Don’t lie in bed awake for more than 15 minutes
- Limit caffeine and alcohol
- Buy comfortable mattress/pillows if you can
- Hide your clock
- Try light therapy see blog post here
- Buy a sound machine for sleeping
- Set the temperature to a comfortable level, preferably on the cool side
- Write a worry list and keep it hidden until morning
- Avoid sleeping tablets if you can as they are addictive and can be harmful
All or simply one of these sleep hygiene tactics could be the reason for your Insomnia. Try to think which is the most obvious for you and take some steps to improve that part of your sleep hygiene. I found that it was a combination of most of this list, every one impacting on my sleep until I was no longer able to sleep normally.