Anxiety arises when your mind travels into the future and finds an imagined scenario threatening. Chronic anxiety isn’t just limited to your mind, its symptoms start showing up in your body too. One of the many forms of anxiety is sleep anxiety. Have you ever found yourself dreading the idea of going to sleep at night? You may be suffering from sleep anxiety. And if you’re new to the term, we’ve covered it all here, along with some management techniques to help anyone suffering from the problem cope.
Health Shots contacted Dr. Pavana S, Consultant Psychiatrist, Bangalore, to understand how to deal with sleep anxiety. “Sleep anxiety, another term for somniphobia or sleep-related anxiety, is a condition in which a person experiences increased feelings of fear, stress or anxiety around sleeping,” he says.
What is sleep anxiety?
In terms of mental health, sleep anxiety can impact your well-being, affecting both the quality of rest and overall mental health. People who experience sleep anxiety often find it challenging to maintain sleep due to persistent worries and concerns. During the sleep process, you may often experience anxiety, persistent worries and ruminations, and difficulty relaxing, which can impact daily functioning. These feelings can be associated with night terrors, and these problems can manifest in the form of chronic insomnia leading to other underlying mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety.
How to deal with sleep anxiety?
Let’s explore effective management techniques for people struggling with sleep anxiety.
1. Maintain a consistent sleep routine
Encourage people to create a regular sleep schedule. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, even on weekends, helps regulate the body’s internal clock, Dr. Pavana S tells Health Shots.
2. Create a soothing bedtime ritual
Try to do relaxing activities before going to bed, such as reading a book, taking a warm bath, or gentle stretching. These rituals act as signals to the body that it is time to fall asleep.
Also read: Do you wake up tired? This bedtime routine will help you solve that
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3. Limit stimulants before bed
“You should avoid using stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine right before bedtime. These can disrupt the ability to fall asleep and contribute to increased anxiety,” says the expert.
4. Mindfulness meditation and deep breathing
Try incorporating mindfulness, meditation and deep breathing exercises into your daily routine to help people shift their attention from anxious thoughts and promote a state of relaxation conducive to sleep.
5. Create a comfortable sleeping environment
“Create an environment that is conducive to sleep: cool, dark and quiet. Investing in a comfortable mattress and pillows can significantly improve sleep quality,” says the expert.
6. Limit screen time before bed
Discourage the use of electronic devices before bedtime. The blue light emitted by screens can disrupt the production of melatonin, a hormone crucial for regulating sleep.
7. Regular exercise routine
“Promote regular physical activity as this can contribute to better sleep. However, vigorous exercise just before bedtime is not recommended,” says the expert.
Regular physical activity can cause feelings of exhaustion that can promote healthy sleep. In addition, exercise is also known to help release feel-good hormones in the body that further help in reducing stress levels in the body.
Treatment plan to address sleep anxiety
When sleep anxiety persists, a comprehensive treatment plan may include therapeutic intervention. Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) has shown effectiveness in addressing the underlying factors that contribute to sleep anxiety. This therapeutic approach focuses on changing thoughts and behaviors that disrupt sleep.
In some cases, medications such as sedative hypnotics or anti-anxiety medications may be considered. However, the use of medications should be approached with caution and individuals should be closely monitored for possible side effects and dependence, the expert advises.
it comes down to
In short, the journey to overcoming sleep anxiety involves a combination of lifestyle adjustments, behavioral changes, and, if necessary, professional guidance. By tailoring strategies to individual needs, we can guide our patients to restful nights and improved overall well-being.