Source from Everyday Health
Anxiety can not only interfere with your daily routine, it can also keep you from a good night’s rest.
Written by Diana Rodriguez, Medically reviewed by Niya Jones, MD, MPH
When you spend your days feeling worried and stressed, nothing sounds better than getting a good night’s sleep. If you have an anxiety disorder, though, your mind may not stop racing when your head hits the pillow.
Anxiety Disorder: Why Sleep Is Affected
Anxiety can keep you from being productive during the day and may also interfere with your ability to sleep at night.
“A lot of the research shows that people who fall asleep quickly and stay asleep all night long have clear minds. They’re able to just clear their mind and think about nothing. With people with anxiety, that just does not happen,” says Sally R. Connolly, LCSW, a therapist at the Couples Clinic of Louisville in Kentucky. “Most people with anxiety disorders have sleep disorders — they have difficulty falling asleep, and wake up more easily.”
Poor sleep can affect your mood, potentially leading to even more anxiety, and a vicious cycle can develop.
Anxiety Disorder: Tips to Getting Better Sleep
How can you break this cycle of anxiety and insomnia? “There are lots of things that people can do. Educating yourself about anxiety is a good start to managing anxiety and sleeping better,” notes Connolly.
To reduce anxiety and improve the amount and quality of sleep that you get, try the following:
- Change the way you think. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can help you change your outlook and perspective. CBT can be very effective in treating anxiety and sleep disorders because it teaches people skills to identify anxious thinking and correct it, says Connolly.
- Unwind at bedtime. There are many techniques that people can use to put their worries aside and fall asleep. Connolly suggests things like counting backward from 100 by sevens or ticking off every first name you can think of that starts with the letter A. If it sounds boring, it should. “You’re boring yourself and taking your mind off of the catastrophic thoughts so you can sleep,” she explains.
- Try a sleep CD. Calming music or natural soundtracks can also soothe your mind and distract you from whatever worries are keeping you awake.
- Exercise. Exercising every day (though not too close to bedtime, since this can actually rev you up) can help manage anxiety symptoms and relax your body. The more relaxed you feel, the better you’ll sleep.
- Modify your environment. Keep your bedroom dark, quiet, and cool. Try sleeping with an eye mask or with earplugs if that helps. A nightly routine can also be useful: Doing the same rituals each night before bed will signal to your body that it’s time to get some rest.
Anxiety can cause insomnia and insomnia can cause anxiety, a cycle that can be tough to deal with on your own. If anxiety is interfering with your sleep and you just can’t seem to get a handle on it, talk to a therapist or psychiatrist about treatment. Taking a sleeping pill may help you sleep for one night, but might do you no good the next night. You need to deal with the root cause — the anxiety disorder — to truly fix your sleeping difficulty. As you find ways to control your anxiety, sleepless nights will be one less thing to worry about.