Anxiety happens when your mind travels into the future and finds an imagined scenario threatening. Chronic anxiety isn’t just limited to your mind, symptoms start to appear in your body as well. One of the many forms of anxiety is sleep anxiety. Have you ever dreaded the idea of sleeping at night? You may suffer from sleep anxiety. Also, if you’re new to the term, we’ve got it all covered here along with some management techniques to help anyone suffering from the problem.
Health Shots got in touch with Dr Pawan 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 heightened feelings of fear, stress or anxiety around the act of sleeping, he says.
What is sleep anxiety?
In the realm of mental health, sleep anxiety can affect your well-being, affecting both your quality of rest and your overall mental health. Individuals who experience sleep anxiety often find it difficult to maintain sleep due to persistent worries and concerns. A person can often experience feelings of fear during the sleep process, persistent worry and overthinking, as well as difficulty relaxing which can affect daily functioning. These feelings can be associated with night terrors, and these problems can manifest as chronic insomnia leading to other underlying mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety.
How to deal with anxiety in sleep?
Let’s explore effective management techniques for those struggling with sleep anxiety.
1. Establish a consistent sleep routine
Encourage individuals to establish 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 calming ritual before bed
You should try to incorporate relaxing activities before bed, such as reading a book, taking a warm bath, or doing gentle stretches. These rituals act as a signal to the body that it is time to take a nap.
Also read: Do you wake up tired? This bedtime routine will help you fix that
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3. Limit stimulants before bed
You should avoid consuming stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine before bed. They can interfere with 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 individuals shift their focus away 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, suggests an expert.
6. Limit screen time before bed
Discourage the use of electronic devices before bed. The blue light emitted from screens can disrupt the production of melatonin, a hormone key to regulating sleep.
7. Regular exercise routine
Promote regular physical activity as it can contribute to better sleep. However, be advised not to do intense exercise before bed, says the expert.
Regular physical activity can cause a feeling of exhaustion that can promote healthy sleep. In addition, exercise is known to help release feel-good hormones in the body that further help curb stress levels in the body.
A treatment plan to combat sleep anxiety
When sleep anxiety persists, a comprehensive treatment plan may include therapeutic intervention. Cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) has been shown to be effective in addressing the underlying factors that contribute to sleep anxiety. This therapeutic approach focuses on changing thoughts and behaviors that interfere with sleep.
In some cases, medications, such as sedative-hypnotics or anti-anxiety medications, may be considered. However, the use of drugs should be approached with caution, and individuals should be carefully monitored for possible side effects and addiction, advises the expert.
In conclusion, the journey to overcoming sleep anxiety involves a combination of lifestyle adjustments, behavioral changes and, when necessary, professional guidance. By tailoring strategies to individual needs, we can guide our patients toward restful nights and improved overall well-being.
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