Today we will look at insomnia and anxiety. Often with anxiety, a good night’s sleep can be hard to come by and is very distressing.
I received this email from a reader who, while feeling better from anxiety, can’t sleep and is yearning to feel rested and have normal sleep:
I have come a long way in that I don’t get the panic attacks. I have a very positive attitude now, I exercise, I have told myself that I will keep getting better and this anxiety will not take over my life anymore. However I still have the problem where I don’t sleep. I have to take medication to sleep, although I don’t take as much as before.
Sometimes I try to go to sleep without taking it and I may doze off for a bit but would not get a good rest. The next day I would be very dis-oriented and even get headaches. How can you help me? I just want to get back to my normal sleep. It was after a traumatic incident in November that I have been suffering.
Thankfully there are a number of things you can do if you have insomnia and anxiety, where you actually feel anxious at the thought of falling or staying asleep, if you can’t seem to get a good night’s rest, or can’t stop thinking about sleep because it’s so difficult for you.
I wrote a helpful article on Anxiety and Sleep awhile back. Now would be a good time to give it a re-read, here’s the link: http://panicfreeme.com/2494/anxiety-and-sleep-tips-that-really-help <- lots of good info on preparing for sleep, etc….
Let’s address the reader who takes medication to sleep, even though at a reduced dosage:
Weaning off any sleep medication can often have a paradoxical effect where you go through a period where the sleeplessness gets worse, not better.
If this medication is prescribed by a doctor, you should consult him or her and have them put you on a weaning schedule, where you gradually reduce the dosage. This will help minimize any nasty side effects. So that is my first piece of advice.
In addition to the tips listed in the article link above, let’s talk about having sleep anxiety:
It’s important to remember that this is very much a negative thinking habit… That is, somewhere deep inside you, you truly fear the act of trying to sleep, staying asleep, are anxious about getting enough rest, worry about the implications of sleeplessness…or any combination of the above.
As is true with anything anxiety wraps its tentacles around, if you have a anxious feeling about sleep, it will continue to torment you until you can learn to have some acceptance about the whole ordeal.
I had to learn this myself in fact, for in the past, I had bouts of insomnia and sleep anxiety that were very, very difficult at the time.
So first and foremost, admit that sleeping somehow freaks you out. Admit that it’s a problem and that you are now ready to take action to get better.
Once you become determined to tackle anxiety, you put yourself in a wonderful position of power. You begin to replace that inner fear with a powerful new inner conviction: That you WILL overcome your anxiety about sleep.
**Never forget that you are more powerful than anxiety.**
Here are some important things I learned:
You can let go of the fear of sleeping.
Yes that’s right. I’m telling you to give yourself permission to just go to bed and lay there and rest. If sleep comes, all the better. But if it doesn’t, at least you are resting. Remember: you can do anything for a few hours. So lay there and rest.
Lack of sleep from being nervous is not going to harm you.
You may have to practice resting at night and having a few bad nights with little sleep. Within a few nights, believe me, eventually anxiety loses and you will sleep. Your body’s inner physiology takes over and you will eventually sleep.
Sleep supplements work, but only occasionally.
Occasionally you can take Diphenhydramine HCI 25 or 50 mg before bed (this is the active ingredient in many over the counter sleep aids). Maybe once the next week if sleep is still poor you can try Valerian Root capsules. Both of these remedies work very well for me and I always have them on hand. So find a few natural sleep aids that work for you to use occasionally, and alternate them.
Give your mind something to do while you lay in bed.
Write in a journal, pray, concentrate on relaxing your muscles and breathing slowly and deeply. Read something really technical to bore you into tiredness. Personally, I love using self hypnosis downloads, and here is a great one:
Fall Asleep Fast & Enjoy a Good Night’s Sleep – listen to this recording over and over and let it lull you to a soothing place where sleep is waiting for you.
Finally, don’t beat yourself up.
If you need short term medication for sleep because you’re anxious, and it’s prescribed by a doctor, then so be it. Use it as directed and be grateful there is something to help you.
I hope you found this post about anxiety and insomnia helpful. Take these tips to heart and know that with gentle persistence & a determined effort, you will learn to relax and let sleep come naturally.
I wish you peace,
Relearn how to fall asleep fast and enjoy a good night’s sleep with self hypnosis– highly recommended!