Updated at: 15-02-2022 - By: Jane Brody

The link between anxiety and sleep issues is often found. It’s tougher to get to sleep and harder to stay asleep when you’re worried and afraid all the time. Sleep deprivation can lead to anxiety disorders, causing a vicious cycle of sleeplessness and anxiety.

Sleep deprivation has been linked to a wide range of health problems, including anxiety disorders, which are the most common mental health issues in the United States. When it comes to overall health, it’s important to grasp the link between anxiety and sleep.

What Is Anxiety? What Are Anxiety Disorders?

When you’re anxious, you’re feeling nervous and uneasy. It’s very normal to feel anxious when confronted with a frightening or stressful scenario.

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Anxiety disorders can lead to an overabundance of distress. Fears are out of proportion to the situation, and worrying has a negative impact on daily living. Over the course of six months or more, the feelings become increasingly frequent and pervasive.

What Does Anxiety Feel Like?

Anxiety disorders can have both emotional and physical effects on their sufferers.

Anxiety can cause people to become agitated and tense. irritation and restlessness might result from this, causing them to lose focus and concentration. It can be overwhelming and out-of-control for them to feel their terror or sense of imminent disaster.

anxiety problems can lead to tense muscles, rapid heartbeats, perspiration, tremors, gastrointestinal trouble, and exhaustion in their physical manifestations.

However, this does not alleviate the root of the problem and can cause major disruptions in daily life and work for those who suffer from anxiety disorders. A person with an anxiety condition may become accustomed to a state of anxiety or terror over time.

Depression and anxiety disorders are frequently co-occurring conditions in the realm of mental health. Approximately 50 percent of those with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

What Are the Types of Anxiety Disorders?

Anxiety is a central component of a wide range of diseases, but not all of them are classified as anxiety disorders.

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): GAD is characterized by persistent, nagging worries about a wide range of items that can elicit a pervasive sense of anxiety.
  • Panic Disorder: Panic Disorder is characterized by frequent, short-lived episodes of extreme dread known as panic attacks.
  • Social Anxiety Disorder: This disease is characterized by an intense apprehension of social situations and the possibility of public humiliation.
  • Specific Phobias: Specific phobias are phobias that are triggered by specific stimuli. Agoraphobia (fear of open or enclosed spaces, crowds, or being alone outside of the home) and separation anxiety are two of the most frequent particular phobias.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): One of the hallmarks of OCD is the need to do rituals in an effort to alleviate or manage one’s worry, which is one of the hallmarks of the disorder. Compulsions are reoccurring rituals that have a direct effect on daily life.
  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): When a person is subjected to a distressing or uncomfortable circumstance, they may develop this condition. There might be debilitating anxiety in those with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

How Common Are Anxiety Disorders?

Anxiety disorders are the most frequent kind of mental disease, affecting around 20% of adults and 25% of teenagers in the United States each and every year.

Adults Affected in the U.S.Percentage of U.S. Adult Population
Generalized Anxiety Disorder6.8 million3.1%
Panic Disorder6 million2.7%
Social Anxiety Disorder15 million6.8%
Specific Phobias2.2 million1%
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder7.7 million3.5%

All anxiety sufferers are not the same, and so are their symptoms and the extent to which anxiety interferes with day-to-day activities. Around 43% of respondents in a major survey reported experiencing some degree of anxiety-related impairment in their daily lives. Nearly 23% claimed it was severe, while 33% said it was moderate.

What causes sleep anxiety?

Humans experience anxiety on a regular basis. Dangerous situations are designed to arouse fear in us. When we are under stress or anxious, our systems release hormones that aid our reaction time in the event of danger. Chronic anxiety, on the other hand, might cause you to feel anxious all the time. As a result, you may be afraid to go to work or even fall asleep at night.

Having these hormones in excess might make it difficult for your body to unwind, and this is especially true before bedtime. Your sleep may be disrupted. If you manage to get some shut-eye, you may wake up in the middle of the night with worrying or anxious thoughts and find it impossible to get back to sleep.

Depression and insomnia can also be induced by hypothyroidism, a condition in which the body’s production of thyroid hormone declines (hypothyroidism).

Anxiety has been linked to a decrease in REM sleep, according to studies. Vivid dreams are more common at this stage of sleep. Dreams might be frightening if you’re suffering from anxiety, which can lead to nightmares that cause you to wake up.

Anxiety can influence sleep, and vice versa. Sleep anxiety is a common symptom of insomnia, in which the person begins to worry about their sleep during the day and at night, which can lead to more sleepless nights.

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What are the symptoms of sleep anxiety?

Anxiety-related insomnia can cause a variety of behavioral changes, such as:

  • Overwhelming feelings of helplessness and helplessness.
  • The inability to focus.
  • Irritability.
  • Nervousness.
  • Restlessness.
  • a feeling of impending disaster or peril;

Anxiety before going to sleep can have physical implications, such as:

  • Problems with the digestive system.
  • The heart is pounding.
  • Breathing too quickly.
  • Sweating.
  • Muscles tensed.
  • Trembling.

During the night, some people suffer from panic attacks. A manic episode is characterized by a quick onset and great intensity of dread. When you have a nocturnal panic attack, it usually wakes you up.

How is sleep anxiety diagnosed?

Physical examination, the study of medical history, and evaluation of symptoms are all part of your healthcare provider’s evaluation. What might they ask you?

  • Is there anything you eat or drink before going to bed?
  • Is it common for you to feel anxious just before going to bed?
  • How long does it take you to get to sleep each night?
  • How many times a night do you wake up to go to the bathroom?
  • What do you do before going to sleep?

What tests help confirm a sleep anxiety diagnosis?

The asleep study may be necessary for some circumstances to determine if you have a sleep issue. The asleep study, also known as polysomnography, is a test that requires you to spend the night in a sleep lab. Your healthcare professional will check your: to see how your body performs while you sleep.

  • Oxygen levels in the bloodstream.
  • How you’re standing and sitting.
  • Breathing.
  • Your brain is buzzing with electrical activity.
  • Movements of the eyes.
  • A person’s heart rate and rhythm are measured.
  • Involvement of the legs.
  • Stages of slumber.
  • Noises you make when sleeping, such as snoring.

Who gets sleep anxiety?

It is possible for people of all ages to suffer from sleep anxiety. If you have a sleep issue, such as insomnia, you may be more susceptible to nighttime worry.

  • Insomnia.
  • Narcolepsy.
  • The repetitive motion of the legs (RLS).
  • A condition is known as sleep apnea.
  • Sleepwalking.

Anxiety at night can be a symptom of the following mental health conditions:

  • The term “anxiety disorders” is commonly used.
  • Bipolar.
  • Depression.
  • Addictions to drugs or alcohol.
  • Irritability.
  • PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  • Schizophrenia.

How common is sleep anxiety?

Approximately 40 million people in the United States are affected by anxiety. According to research, most persons who suffer from mental health issues such as anxiety also experience some degree of sleep disturbance.

How can medication treat sleep anxiety?

Anxiety and other mental health issues may need the use of medicines. The symptoms of sleep problems such as restless legs syndrome or insomnia may be alleviated with medication.

However, when you first begin taking a medicine, you may have an increase in anxiety or difficulty sleeping as a side effect. Talk to your doctor if you notice any of these side effects. There are a number of over-the-counter sleep medications that are habit-forming as well. Any medicine for anxiety or insomnia should only be taken under the direction of an experienced healthcare professional.

What Is the Relationship Between Anxiety and Sleep?

Anxiety problems have long been associated with sleep abnormalities, such as insomnia. People who are troubled by worry often ruminate about their worries in bed, and this uneasiness at night can prevent them from falling asleep.

According to researchers, insomnia is often caused by an overactive mind that is typically characterized by concern. People who suffer from anxiety disorders are more prone to sleep disturbances because of their elevated sleep reactivity.

People with a variety of forms of anxiety, such as GAD, OCD, and PTSD, have reported difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep at night. In a number of studies, more than 90% of persons with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have experienced sleeplessness symptoms.

Anxiety about going asleep can exacerbate an individual’s fear and worry, leading to an ever-increasing level of insomnia. This form of anticipatory anxiety, or fear of going to sleep, can make it difficult to maintain a regular sleep schedule.

Anxiety can keep people up at night, even after they’ve fallen asleep. It can be difficult to get back to sleep if their mind is racing with anxiety. As a result, the quantity and quality of their sleep may be compromised.

Anxiety problems have been linked to shifts in a person’s sleep patterns. REM sleep, in which the most vivid dreams occur, is thought to be affected by worry and pre-sleep ruminating. Anxiety might lead to more unsettling nightmares and a more difficult time getting a good night’s rest. Nightmares can reinforce negative sleep-related memories and anxieties.

Strong data shows that sleep issues are not just a sign of anxiety. This is contrary to popular belief. Anxiety disorders can be triggered or exacerbated by sleep loss. People who are more susceptible to anxiety are more susceptible to the effects of sleep deprivation, which can lead to anxiety symptoms.

Anxiety disorders can be made worse by sleep deprivation, which has been shown to have a negative impact on mood and mental well-being. As a result of this two-way link, anxiety and sleep deprivation can feed on each other, leading to an endless cycle of anxiety and sleep deprivation.

People who suffer from both depression and anxiety may find it even more difficult to get a good night’s sleep because depression exacerbates the problem.

Mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and panic disorder are more common among those who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a sleep disorder that causes frequent breathing pauses during sleep.

How to Calm Anxiety and Get Better Sleep

There are many reasons why anxiety disorders are so curable, despite their devastating effects. This does not imply that lowering anxiety is always easy, but there are treatments that can assist in this endeavor.

Anxiety and/or sleep disorders should be discussed with a doctor who can best assess the patient’s situation and discuss the benefits and drawbacks of the various therapy choices.

Anxiety problems are commonly treated with cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). It’s a form of psychotherapy that aims to reframe negative thoughts, and it has been shown to reduce anxiety. Even insomniacs can benefit from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Severe episodes of sleeplessness may continue after undergoing cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for anxiety. Consider CBT-I as a possible next step in the treatment of insomnia (CBT-I).

Anti-anxiety medicines, antidepressants, and beta-blockers are just a few of the approved treatments for treating anxiety disorders. Rather than treating the underlying anxiety, these drugs are designed to alleviate symptoms.

Because of the complex interaction between anxiety and sleep, improved sleep may help alleviate symptoms of anxiety. Developing healthy sleep habits can make going to bed a more enjoyable experience and support a consistent sleep regimen.

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Sleep hygiene encompasses both your personal sleeping patterns and the physical environment in which you sleep. Making your bed more comfortable, removing sources of sleep disruption like light and noise, and abstaining from caffeine and alcohol in the afternoon and evening are all steps that can help you improve your sleep hygiene.

A better night’s sleep is easier to get by experimenting with various relaxation techniques.

CBT may include relaxation exercises to help break the cycle of worry and rumination, which can be beneficial. Scheduling periods when you actively worry may also help you avoid worrying right before going to bed. Just a few of the many ways to relax before bed or when you wake up throughout the night include deep breathing, mindfulness meditation, and guided imagery.

Tips for Improving Sleep and Managing Anxiety

Move your body – Both anxiety and sleep are improved by regular exercise. But avoid exercising shortly before bedtime, as this can keep you awake. Morning or afternoon exercise can help you get your sleeping and waking cycles back on track and also treat insomnia or sleep apnoea.

Tailor your environment – You can enjoy a good night’s sleep by controlling the light, sound, and temperature in your room. The better your chances of relaxing and sleeping are, the darker, quieter, and colder your bedroom is. You can speed up the process of falling asleep by taking a hot bath or shower right before bed.

Limit caffeine and alcohol – Caffeine can cause anxiety and prevent sleep if used in excess or too late in the day. Even a small amount of booze before bedtime might raise your heart rate and keep you awake. Do not overindulge in liquids before bedtime because frequent trips to the restroom can cause insomnia and anxiety.

Calm your mind – There are a variety of relaxation methods that might help you relax and sleep better throughout the day. A quick stroll during a work break might be as easy as mindfulness meditation, yoga, or breathing activity to help you calm down. It will be easier to induce a state of relaxation at night if you practice ways for slowing your thoughts during the day.

Limit screen time – Try to restrict your use of your phone, tablet, and television an hour before bedtime because they create light that keeps your brain awake. Checking e-mail or working on a project before going to sleep can cause you to feel tense and unable to relax. Set an alarm to remind you to turn off screens at least an hour before going to bed to help you remember to do so. As an alternative, you could try listening to some music or reading a good book.

Ask for help – In certain cases, controlling your anxiety and enhancing your quality of sleep is more involved than simply shutting off your phone or exercising. Asking for help from a doctor or a therapist is never a sign of weakness. Consider who you can enlist right now to help you get the rest you need if you’re struggling with insomnia or anxiety.

PsyCom strongly advises anyone who suspects they or someone they care about may be suffering from anxiety or any other mental health disorder to seek out professional help. At https://www.psycom.net/get-help-mental-health, we’ve created a list of sites (some of which offer free or low-cost support) that you might find useful.

How can I make living with sleep anxiety easier?

Every part of your life, from your career to your relationships, can be impacted by issues with anxiety or sleep deprivation. Talking to a therapist, coworkers, colleagues, or loved ones about your sleep anxiety may be beneficial. Additionally, support groups can provide a sense of belonging to a larger community of individuals who have been through the same things you have.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

When you have sleep anxiety, you worry that you won’t be able to fall asleep or stay asleep. There is a strong link between sleep disturbances and mental health issues such as anxiety. It can feel like a never-ending loop because one can often worsen the other. The good news is that anxiety and sleep issues may both be treated. Discuss your symptoms with your doctor and work together to come up with the best treatment plan for you. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), proper sleep hygiene, and medication are all common therapies.

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