Getting sleep has to be a priority if you want to fight anxiety and find relief. It’s definitely a matter of quality but studies have shown that quantity plays a big part in that: How well rested we feel after a night’s sleep.
For optimal health and well-being Labcoats ‘R Us will tell you we should all be getting between 7-8 hours sleep a night; A lovely thought dreamed up by people who’ve clearly never gone 4 days without sleep and found themselves wondering why the walls are slithering.
Most anxiety sufferers experience periods of insomnia: A mild word for what can be an incredibly destabilizing factor in your life.
Chronic insomnia can be a symptom of other underlying conditions. I.e. Depression, heart disease, sleep apnoea, lung disease, diabetes, menopause etc. so your doctor is going to be able to tell a whole lot more about what’s going on for you from how much sleep you’re getting overall, when, and in what amounts.
Do you need more sleep?
- You spend at least an hour trying to fall asleep every night.
- It’s difficult to get out of bed when the alarm sounds. Maybe you even set multiple alarms.
- You worry about getting enough sleep most nights of the week.
- Waking up in the middle of the night and finding that you can’t get back to sleep
- You self-medicate to help you sleep (often pills or alcohol get involved here and that’s generally not such a good sign).
- You feel exhausted, even when you wake up from several hours sleep.
- You tend to sleep in, or take daytime naps because you haven’t had enough sleep.
- Feeling drowsy during the day, and/or using more caffeine, more frequently to stay alert.
If these things sound familiar, you probably want to go ahead and speak to your doctor or therapist to develop a plan that specifically addresses the sleep and anxiety issues you’re facing.
Treat insomnia and anxiety
The sooner the better because the larger your sleep debt gets, the harder it is to get sleep patterns back in balance. If you can start to get even a bit more sleep, or a bit better sleep then you’ll probably find that treating anxiety gets a whole lot easier.
Improve sleep and relaxation
Breathe. Stretch. Take a few moments out of each day to get in tune with the signals your body is giving you about whether it’s tired, whether it really needs that extra cup of caffeinated goodness. Sometimes a walk round the block does more good than another jolt of cola.
If you can/do nap, try to make sure they’re in multiples of 90 minutes. That way you’ll have completed a full sleep cycle, rather than find yourself waking in the middle of one, bleary and a bit worse for wear.
Meanwhile, keep checking in with what your body has to tell about where it’s at with the whole sleep thing; Sometimes it’s easy to miss the signs of how tired you really are.
I’ll post later in the week on some the main causes of sleep problems, and how to get the best insomnia treatment.