How anxiety affects sleep?

The Nightmare of Nighttime Anxiety and How to Overcome It

            A good night's sleep is tomorrow's good work. The importance of an eight-hour sleep is often overlooked by most people, not knowing the physical and emotional toll if deprived of it. Sleeping fuels our everyday energy to do tasks and sustains our mental alertness. Without sleep, nothing good will be done.

            Sleep and anxiety affect each other, with the latter causing direct adverse consequences to one’s quality of sleep. As when anxiety starts to crawl in, it tends to affect our mental well-being with a barrage of unwanted and uncalled thoughts. These can put someone up all night restless. For a person who suffers from anxiety, It is more of a challenge to just find that perfect and peaceful time to close one’s eyes and start dreaming. Even when in bed, the trouble of constant worrying still follows and wrestles with one’s sanity.

            Nighttime anxiety involves thoughts that trigger uneasiness and nervousness before going to bed. The human brain can often struggle to keep itself busy at night, thus resorting to negative emotions and thoughts. While some of the people can just toss and turn some nights, this is not the case of others who suffer from anxiety-induced sleep deprivation; when watching the hands of the clock tick yet another second is the only thing that they can do best.

            Without even noticing, this can start a cycle of stress and poor sleep all because of being anxious. But, what really causes anxiety before sleep?

            For one, focusing so much on the things that might get you stressed tomorrow is a definite contributor to nighttime anxiety. Worrying so much about what the future may hold and overthinking the worst-case-scenarios are no help at all to relax the mind. Being fixated on these will only make every night an extension of the day’s load. When in fact, it should not be this way. Another is driven because of fear. Sometimes, people tend to feel that the solitude of the night causes them to be more anxious, scared, and worried. The quietness of the night is, more than likely, interpreted as loneliness and neglect. In return, fear is stimulated. When someone is in fear, it exacerbates the anxiety and our negative mood.

 A rapid thought pattern is also a contributor to anxiety at night. These bothersome thoughts can strike consecutively over time. The longer these thoughts stay in one’s consciousness, the more anxious people become. Consequently, a poor sleeping pattern can be developed. A person who has developed an unhealthy sleeping routine is more susceptible to stress and anxiety. It weakens the immune system and may cause other health risks in the future.

Some of the symptoms of nighttime anxiety are the following: difficulty in falling asleep, trouble concentrating, feelings of restlessness and nervousness, gastrointestinal problems, nightmares and night terrors, and hypnic jerk or twitching. It is important to be aware of these conditions for they can impact the mood, affect performance, disrupt learning and attention, and heighten the chances of depression.

Sleep is essential, whether one may agree or not. Given all the correlation of anxiety to sleep, how can we better overcome this before going to bed?

First, practice good sleep hygiene, the habits necessary to attain good sleep. Limiting daytime naps and avoiding excessive stimulants like caffeine can be a good start to recalibrate our body efficiently. Additionally, meditation and exercise are also important. Before going to sleep, one can also set aside time to wind down like listening to music or podcasts available to you.

As much as possible, avoid stressful activities before going to bed like worrying about that big presentation tomorrow. The night is yours to enjoy. Avoiding these can better set the mood for your mind to relax. Instead, writing down all your worries on a piece of paper can be a good alternative to ease your feelings. On one hand, aromatherapy can also be  a good mood booster to assist you to get to sleep. The fragrances from essential oils can set your sleeping environment to your liking, depending on what makes you more comfortable and at ease. It relieves stress and almost as if lulls you to your sweet dream.

            If anxiety continues to deprive your sleep, then it becomes a problem. While the feeling of anxiety can stimulate our senses and produces hormones that can help us deal with threats, it nonetheless hampers our daily work and debilitates our well-being. Anxiety and sleep are connected. It is important to remember that sleeping is our only time to take a deep pause. With anxiety disrupting this, a sense of fatigue and burnout is expected. As Thomas Decker said, “sleep is the golden chain that binds health and our bodies together.”

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