Anxiety and Sleep Disorders
The room is dark, but your brain doesn't rest, and before you know it, two hours have passed and you still haven't fallen asleep. You know perfectly well that when the alarm clock goes off in the morning it will be torture! However, the more you try to “fall asleep” the more anxious you become. Do you know this feeling well? You are not alone.
If you are one of those people who tend to take everyday problems to bedtime, it is likely that you find it more difficult to fall asleep or even wake up several times during the night.
On average, an adult needs about seven hours of sleep a night to feel fully rested and ready to face the day. However, for many people, sleep deprivation is a very constant reality, preventing rest from being properly restorative.
Among the various causes of sleep disorders, there is anxiety. We have all felt anxious at least once in our lives, either because we were waiting for a significant event in our lives or because we needed to make an important decision.
However, when anxiety starts to haunt most of your days and limit your life, the issue is different! Find out why.
What is anxiety?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), anxiety is one of the main mental health problems worldwide.
Anxiety is an emotion characterized by a alarm state associated with feelings of anguish, worry and fear.
It can manifest at any age and gender, including children. Despite being an (increasingly) common problem, we should pay special attention when anxiety is felt for no apparent reason and in an excessive and continuous way.
Anxiety can be a serious problem when it starts to be felt frequently, affecting quality of life and general well-being, and can progress to anxiety disorder.
According to National Health Service (SNS), we talk about anxiety disorder “when there is a serious, disproportionate fear that has lasted for at least 6 months and that has a real impact on daily life, interfering with the individual's ability to function normally.”
Anxiety disorders can manifest in several ways:
- Generalized anxiety disorder - frequent and permanent anxiety symptoms with physical symptoms that may vary from person to person;
- Panic disorder - extremely intense episodes of fear that result in panic attacks, which are accompanied by symptoms of anxiety and feelings of imminent death;
- Phobias - intense fear in the presence of certain objects or situations (such as dogs, heights, closed places, etc.);
- social anxiety disorder - involves fear of attending environments or situations with the presence of people;
- Post-traumatic stress disorder - when exposed to a disturbing situation or memory that was once traumatic for the person.
What are the symptoms of anxiety?
Anxiety can come in the form of a variety of signs and symptoms, experiencing physical, psychological and/or behavioral symptoms.
Not that it touches symptoms physicists, stands out:
- uncontrolled breathing;
- faster heartbeat;
- tremors and muscle tension;
- dry mouth;
- excessive sweating;
- between others.
Regarding the symptoms psychological and behavioral, irritability, alertness, frequent insomnia, attention difficulties are some of the most frequent symptoms.
The more symptoms a person has, and the more frequent and intense they are, the more worrying it becomes, as it can lead to serious complications (both physical and psychological).
In the face of an anxiety attack or crisis, the feeling of imminent death can feel overwhelming and out of control. If you suffer from anxiety, this symptom will not be strange to you and you will surely know how bad it is to experience it!
What causes anxiety?
In fact, there is not exactly a single defined cause for anxiety.
It is believed that, when combined, family genetics or some trauma and mental/psychological complications can increase the likelihood that someone will suffer from generalized anxiety disorder.
What we eat and drink can also cause episodes of anxiety, especially when substances that alter our consciousness are consumed, such as the consumption of alcoholic beverages or other drugs.
How can anxiety interfere with sleep?
In fact, it doesn't take a diagnosis of anxiety to feel the impact that stress and worry have on our sleep patterns.
Sleep plays an important role in our mental health and well-being. If you have ever suffered or suffer from sleep deprivation, you know how it can make you anxious and irritable the next day.
It takes us longer to fall asleep, we sleep less, and when we wake up, it often feels like we feel even more exhausted! Many people find it difficult to "turn off the mind" when it's time to sleep, mainly because it's the time of day when the brain is most idle, without any other distraction.
One study published by Journal of Sleep found that anxious people record altered sleep patterns, as they take longer to fall asleep, wake up more often during sleep and have a lighter sleep (non-REM sleep).
Difficulty sleeping is a common feature of generalized anxiety disorders, with sleep disorders affecting more than 50% of adults with generalized anxiety disorder.
A insomnia it's one of the most common types of sleep disorder for those who suffer from an anxiety disorder.
You probably suffer from insomnia with:
- after going to bed you stay awake for a long period of time;
- you wake up early in the morning, before the alarm goes off;
- you spend a large part of the night awake, unable to sleep;
- you feel very tired during the day.
Does anxiety cause sleep disorders, or do sleep disorders cause anxiety?
The relationship between anxiety and sleep disorders is bidirectional. One motivates the other. Anxiety can keep people from sleeping, and sleep deprivation makes them more anxious. It's kind of a vicious cycle!
The accumulate stress everyday and the difficulty in disconnecting from problems - very characteristic of someone with anxiety! - are the main causes of a state of nocturnal mental agitation, preventing you from reaching the restorative phase of sleep - the REM phase.
On the other hand, sleep disorders can intensify and/or contribute to the emergence of mental health complications.
With the lack of control of hormone levels, hormones such as cortisol which contributes to anxiety and stress. In addition, poor sleep quality amplifies reactions in certain parts of the brain associated with anxiety, such as amygdala it's the anterior insular cortex.
How to calm anxiety and sleep better?
Good news: both the effects of anxiety and the effects of sleep disturbances can be controlled! There are some ways and attitudes that can help control anxiety and improve sleep habits. Know some.
Adopt some relaxation techniques
Meditation, mindfulness and breathing techniques bring immense benefits to various aspects of our health, helping us to face life in a calmer and more positive way.
In addition, they are practices increasingly used to achieve better sleep and also for the treatment of anxiety and the prevention of its symptoms.
If you suffer from anxiety, try adding to your days a moment of reflection and relaxation in a comfortable place, where you can have your eyes closed, while focusing on your breathing. You can start with 5-minute meditations and, as you get into the rhythm, you increase your relaxation time day by day.
You know here some meditation and mindfulness exercises to put into practice!
A aromatherapy is a therapeutic practice known worldwide and used in the most diverse situations. During the pandemic, aromatherapy and the use of essential oils grew exponentially to treat stress and anxiety.
It is very effective in relieving physical symptoms (such as headaches), boosting mental well-being and emotional balance as a whole.
Aromatherapy is a strong ally in combating anxiety and achieving better nights sleep. Try starting with scents like lavender it's at chamomile which, thanks to their particularities, activate different emotions capable of bringing us calm and serenity.
Colmol's aromatherapy pillows allow you to enjoy the benefits of this practice in the comfort of your bed.
Don't be sedentary!
An sedentary lifestyle is, at all, a practice not to adopt! Looking for ways to keep your heart rate very active is one of the ways to calm anxiety.
Physical exercise plays an important role in our well-being. Regardless of the type of activity and the time you practice it, the important thing is to be on the move! In this way, you will be able to reach the end of the day with greater fatigue and, of course, you will fall asleep more easily.
It gives preference to more intense exercises in the early hours of the morning, and lighter exercises before bed, such as stretching. If you need suggestions, we have some here for you!
If you prefer to exercise before bed, remember to do it 4 hours before bedtime at most. Otherwise, it can have the opposite effect, and that's not what we want!
Distract your mind
In addition to stretching exercises before bed, keeping your mind busy with other activities helps calm you down.
Creates the habit of reading a book or listening to a podcast before you go to bed. Your mind will be focused on something else, and it won't give way to anxiety and all the thoughts that can trigger it!
But watch out! Distracting your mind doesn't mean spending the last hours of your day with your eyes on your phone or tablet browsing social networks!
Using screens half an hour before falling asleep will increase the time it will take you to fall into deep sleep by half an hour. This gets complicated, especially if you're younger.
Seek medical help
This is, without a doubt, a very important step: to be aware that something is wrong and that it negatively influences our health and general well-being.
If you have already tried all the tips that we recommend and, even so, anxiety still causes you sleep disorders, the ideal is to seek specialized medical help.
Seek help of a specialized professional is essential to be able to deal in the best way with anxiety and all that it entails! You can, for example, turn to a psychiatrist or even a specialist in sleep medicine.
Anxiety disorders can be treated through medication, therapy or lifestyle changes. Medication can play an excellent role in treating moderate to severe anxiety, and when combined with cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy (for example) can be a great help in treating anxiety.
Anxiety is still a problem for many people and can disrupt a good night's sleep and day-to-day life in general.
It's not worth taking your day-to-day worries to bed. If you believe that it is at bedtime that you will solve all your problems or concerns, don't be disappointed! Tomorrow is another day.
Gather all the strategies we recommend and start putting them into practice today! Relax your mind, choose to do what calms you down and enjoy more invigorating and peaceful nights!
Already Colmol, our priority is the satisfaction of those who seek to improve their nights of rest through effective and quality products. Our team of Sleep Specialists provide personalized advice on a daily basis, adapted to the needs of each client who seeks us out.
If you are looking for this specialized help, you can contact us directly at::
- call the number +351 300 600 110
- or send us your questions to the email firstname.lastname@example.org
We are always available to help you… and your sleep 🧡
What are your strategies for dealing with anxiety? Share in the comments ⬇️💬