Do you ever find yourself lying in bed, unable to fall asleep yet the only thing you want is to fall asleep? Do you know the feeling of tossing and turning and keeping your eyes shut while falling asleep seems to only get further from reach. Well, knowing the feeling is one thing, but experiencing it over and over again, might be an indication of sleep anxiety.
Sleep anxiety is a symptom, referring to a specific time of anxiety which occurs while trying to fall asleep or stay asleep. It’s characterized by excessive worry, racing thoughts and high anxiety levels, altogether interfering with the ability to relax and calm down before falling asleep.
Sleep anxiety can be caused by various things, such as stress, health concerns, trauma and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the fear of nightmares, overthinking, caffeine levels and blue light exposure. Some of these causes are not under our control, therefore should be treated with deep respect and the right caretakers (physicians, schiciatrists, psychologists, etc.), yet some can be influenced by the decisions we make.
The management of sleep anxiety is first and foremost choosing to manage it. There is no magic trick to make it better immediately, it’s a progress, but it’s worth the trouble.
Engaging stress-reducing activities into your day to day routine is a great choice to start with. Whether it’s physical activity, meditation practices, taking a warm bath or reading a book, reducing your stress levels will reduce your sleep anxiety severity.
Adapting your sleep environment to your sleep-needs is another great option. Creating a quiet, dark, comfortable environment, with the right temperature, humidity and air circulation you prefer - will definitely increase your chance to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
Limiting caffeine intake (as well as alcohol) is also shown to make a difference for people who have a difficult time falling asleep. All in all, when trying to improve sleep anxiety symptoms and reduce its negative effect, it’s a progress of reducing the exposure to triggers that might lead to stress and to harm your sleep quality.
The formal diagnosis of sleep anxiety barely exists, as it’s commonly described as having trouble falling asleep due to overthinking or fear… and still, it’s very common! Dealing with anxiety on your own is much harder than it is together. Try to share your thoughts and feelings with someone you trust, be it a family member, a friend or a therapist, it’s your choice. Taking care of sleep means taking care of your health, of yourself, we encourage you to do so.
Wishing you a good night’s sleep