Sleep anxiety is a perpetual cycle that many people experience night after night. When the inability to rest becomes a pattern that causes you to dread going to bed at night, it can be impossible to shut your mind down to get the proper amount of sleep necessary to stay healthy. Before you let this cycle take over your life, learn how you can prevent the angst of hating this important nighttime routine.
Anxiety Over What is Expected
If you have ever felt anxiety about getting on a stage or talking in front of people, you understand performance anxiety. While you might not be sleeping in front of anyone, you can still experience this form of nervousness because you know what is expected of you, yet you tell yourself you cannot do it. This happens most often in people that have a difficult time going to sleep for a few nights in a row. Eventually, it becomes a pattern for them, as it becomes expected that they will be unable to shut down at night. You then begin to talk yourself into having a difficult time every night, so what started as temporary insomnia for one reason or another, now becomes a perpetual cycle of the inability to sleep.
Bad Dreams or Thoughts Causing Anxiety
Nightmares or bad thoughts can race through your mind at night when you close your eyes, causing you to suffer from sleep anxiety. Some people have nightmares multiple nights in a row, making it an expected pattern, which can cause people to fear closing their eyes at night, wondering what their mind will conjure up that night. Other times, bad experiences during the daytime can plague your dreams at night, making it impossible to shut down. You might drift into the first or second phase of sleep, but getting into a deep sleep is impossible because your mind keeps wandering to the negative thoughts, forcing you to open your eyes and try to shake away the bad feelings.
Sleep Patterns Causing Anxiety
What you do in your sleep may also cause you to experience anxiety. For example, if your partner tells you that you snore and you are embarrassed about it, you might experience anxiety about shutting your eyes at night. Other examples include people that talk in their sleep or even those that are told they have sleep apnea. If you know that something is going on while you are unaware, it could make you more self-conscious about going to sleep. The anxiety can eventually create a pattern that makes you spend more time tossing and turning rather than getting the quality rest your body needs.
Avoiding Sleep Anxiety
There are many ways you can avoid sleep anxiety, or, at least, minimize its occurrence in your life. The best way to manage it is to take good care of your body while you are awake. This means eating from all five food groups throughout the day; avoiding processed foods as well as those with high sugar content; minimizing the consumption of caffeine and alcohol; and exercising several times per week. In addition, you should make your bedroom as comforting as possible to help you induce proper rest. Minimize any distractions in your room, including noises and bright lights, wear ear plugs if you must in order to avoid waking in the middle of the night and keep your room cool as possible as the lower your body temperature becomes, the easier it is to naturally induce sleep.
Sleep anxiety can be detrimental to your overall health, so it is important to figure out a way to minimize it. If adjusting your habits and how you care for your body does not help you get the necessary sleep per night, seeking the assistance of your doctor might be necessary. Sometimes sleep medication and/or psychotherapy is necessary to avoid the anxiety a person feels when trying to get to sleep.