In the United States, an estimated 40 million adults experience anxiety or an anxiety-related disorder annually, and that number does not include those under 18 years of age who also experience a mental illness. Symptoms of anxiety and other mental health disorders can manifest differently in many people.
One of these symptoms can be experiencing insomnia or symptoms related to a sleep disorder brought on by either general worry or a diagnosed anxiety disorder. This is not an uncommon condition, and many people with anxiety live with disruptions to their sleep every day.
Sleep disorders come in two different forms: sleep disorders that keep people from falling asleep altogether and sleep disorders that prevent those experiencing symptoms of the disorder from staying asleep.
Below, find tips to keep anxiety from waking you up during the night (as opposed to falling asleep), which effectively disrupts your REM cycles and prevents you from becoming fully rested.
Anxiety at Night Can Be Affected by Your Day
The best way to keep your anxiety from keeping you up all night or from waking you up in the middle of the night is to work on treating and reducing your anxiety during the day. By doing this, your mind will be calmer by the time your head hits the pillow, and it might help your mind stay asleep the whole night.
There may be some unresolved issues in your life that you are not addressing. These issues are not necessarily what wake you up in the night. For example, you may be stressed about your marriage, yet you find yourself waking up thinking about work. Perhaps you are truthfully worried about failing a class, but you wake up and feel homesick.
Remember, you may be distracting yourself from the true source of your worries in your daily life, but that does not mean your anxiety has gone away. Your body and mind are still harboring these fears, and waking you up regardless. Ask yourself what you are distracting yourself from in daily life.
Remember that in the battle to address your issues head on, substances are the ultimate counterproductive distraction. They may make you feel better, but they do not solve the true root of your issue. Ask yourself the hard questions- what are you truly stressed about? Then you can begin to solve your concerns.
Some people want to be able to pick something up at the store to try improving symptoms of anxiety during the day, which will likely reduce anxiety at night, too.
Self-care practices can look different for everyone, but trying even little ways to relax throughout your day can reduce anxiety symptoms overall. Particularly for those who are busy at work, it can feel minor but is actually so important to take time to detach from your busy job and find a work-life balance.
Other people prefer to use meditative practices to reduce stress throughout the day, and particularly right before they go to sleep in an effort to empty out the mind and relax through the night.
Some people find mindfulness practices that can reduce symptoms of anxiety. The basic premise of mindfulness is living in the moment. You’re supposed to clear your mind of any outside worries and focus on the present moment. You shouldn’t worry about your concerns at the moment; don’t worry about bills that are due or things that need to get done.
By focusing on the moment and the little things, you can calm your mind and increase your focus for later. Other guiding tips can be found here.
Additionally, other methods of meditation or yoga prove to be effective for some people. When treating anxiety naturally, it’s all up to your own personal preferences. If you don’t enjoy something or if something doesn’t seem to be working for you, then you’re not alone or doing something wrong, it just doesn’t happen to be the right natural treatment option for you.
If natural aids and personal habits do not reduce anxiety to the point that you are able to sleep through the night, consider seeing a mental health professional. You can find many mental health resources that can provide some insight into what your next steps should be to find a therapist who fits your needs.
Online research or referrals from other doctors can both help you find a great therapist. Seeing a counselor can help you get a diagnosis if you are experiencing a mental health disorder. However, therapy is not only for those with a diagnosed mental illness. Many people benefit from seeing a therapist, and short-term or long-term therapy could help people experiencing symptoms of anxiety to improve their sleep when they are waking up in the middle of the night.
Just like with natural anxiety treatment methods, not every therapist might be the right one for you. Try to find someone who seems like a good fit, especially if you are looking for someone with experience treating those who specifically struggle with sleeping because of anxiety.