Insomnia shows up in a number of anxiety disorders. Many people who are being treated for anxiety report that an inability to sleep well is one of the major symptoms of their illness. Anxiety causing insomnia is not uncommon, and when doctors and patients treat anxiety, they must incorporate a way to treat the sleep disorders such as insomnia that often come with the condition. If you have anxiety and you notice that your sleep patterns have changed, or the quality of sleep you’re getting at night is poor, you’ll need to discuss this symptom with your treatment team. Left unchecked, the insomnia can lead to greater sleep deficiencies which are dangerous to your physical and mental health.
Diagnosing Anxiety Causing Insomnia
When you’re anxious and unrested, your work, education, relationships and personal life will suffer. An early diagnosis of the insomnia that comes with your anxiety is critical. According to the Psychiatric Times, insomnia is often unrecognized and underdiagnosed in patients who suffer from anxiety. Your insomnia won’t automatically go away as you’re being treated for anxiety. You’ll need to treat the sleep disorder as well.
There are a number of ways that your treatment team can determine if you’re at risk for insomnia and to detect the early signs. Make sure you mention any trouble you have sleeping to your doctor, even if you aren’t asked about it directly. Your medical staff may ask you to complete a questionnaire that details your sleep history and you may also find it helpful to keep a sleep log or journal. This will help you track how well you’re sleeping or if you’re not sleeping. Knowing and recognizing patterns can help you establish routines and change behaviors that will help you avoid insomnia and get higher quality of sleep that keeps you healthy and assists in your anxiety treatment.
If you sleep with a spouse or a significant other, that person can help you identify problems you may be having with sleep, beyond simply not being able to sleep. Specific things to look for include sleepwalking, excessive body movements during the night, sleep apnea or snoring and other sleep behavior disorders such as rapid eye movement. All of these things will help with an early diagnosis of anxiety causing insomnia. It will help you recover and manage both conditions. You may be referred to a sleep specialist if other treatment paths don’t work.
Why is Anxiety Causing Insomnia?
People who suffer from anxiety are often under tremendous amounts of stress. This can be real stress due to situations in their lives or emotional boundaries that have been breached. If you have an anxiety disorder, your stress can also come from your mind making the problems you have seem much larger and scarier than they actually are.
Insomnia is often a direct result of stress. People who do not have an anxiety disorder will still report losing sleep once in a while when they are dealing with a specific event or problem that is causing stress. When stress causes insomnia, the sleep problems will go away once the stress is relieved. This is often not the case, however, for people who are dealing with anxiety. Even while you’re being treated for your symptoms of anxiety disorders, you’re still grappling with the stress. That will contribute directly to your problems with sleep.
Treating Anxiety Causing Insomnia
Like your anxiety disorder, insomnia probably leaves you feeling both helpless and hopeless. Many people with sleep disorders feel like it’s something that’s out of their control, and there’s nothing that can be done about it. However, that’s not true. Whether the insomnia is contributing to your anxiety or you are stuck with anxiety causing insomnia, there are things you can do to treat both conditions and leave you feeling healthier emotionally and better rested physically.
First, change your habits and behaviors wherever you can. Get some exercise and fresh air during the day if you’re able to. Set up a bedtime routine that includes rituals and consistent activities that help you train your mind and body to prepare for sleep.
Set up an environment that welcomes and encourages sleep. Make sure it’s dark and cool in your bedroom, and turn off any electronics including televisions, computers and even your phone.
Counting sheep may help you fall asleep, but it won’t do much for your anxiety. Instead, rest quietly in your bed and focus on clearing your mind. If a counterproductive thought arrives in your head, acknowledge it and then move it out of your mind. Visualize yourself placing that thought in a box or a container. You can deal with it the next day.
There are also a number of natural remedies that can help anxiety causing insomnia. Figure out what works for you and make a plan to treat the combined effects of each condition.