Insomnia is a common symptom of various psychiatric disorders and has significant implications for them. In the context of anxiety disorders, insomnia appears to be a natural symptom, in fact, it is often the key to diagnosing anxiety disorders or it is believed that it can accelerate the development of such disorders. Insomnia is the inability to get the amount of sleep required to wake up feeling refreshed and fresh, it is defined by the quality of sleep and the feeling of rest. It does not depend so much on the number of hours of sleep. Insomnia becomes something chronic if this condition of not having quality rest and sleep happens every night for a month or more.
The relationship between anxiety and insomnia creates a vicious circle, insomniacs anticipate problems with sleep and this causes them to develop anxiety and fear of going to bed and not being able to sleep. This pressure to sleep causes further difficulty in falling asleep. This lack of sleep accentuates the other symptoms of anxiety.
Many scholars think that if chronic insomnia is controlled, this may help control anxiety symptoms. However, others find that if anxiety is managed, insomnia will overcome itself. Actually, both points of view are valid, what is true is that when we fall into a cycle of insomnia by anxiety, it is very important to seek help and treatment.
According to Dr. Ralph Downey III, director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Loma Linda University in California “The greatest health risks for the insomniac, if not treated within six months, are mental illness and Alcohol abuse “.
Practical Tips for Treating Chronic Anxiety Insomnia
Sleep problems are usually treatable and there are a variety of ways to deal with them. Changing behaviors such as avoiding drinking lots of caffeine, drinking alcohol or smoking before bedtime, taking naps during the day or having an irregular sleep schedule. They may sound pretty obvious, but people often overlook these recommendations and this literally takes away the dream.
Here are some of the most basic and practical recommendations for treating chronic anxiety insomnia:
- Make sure the bedroom is quiet, dark and cool. Noise, light, and heat can interfere with sleep.
- Establish a regular sleep schedule. Our body really works like a clock and it is healthy to support it respecting the bedtime and getting up every day, to create a rhythm.
- Avoid naps. Napping during the day can make it harder to fall asleep at night.
- Remove pressure. According to the Anxiety Guide, it is preferable to face each night with low expectations, receiving every night that passes as a new opportunity to sleep, even if only a few hours of sleep. This removes the pressure of being forced to sleep.
- Avoid situations of high stimulating activity before bedtime. This includes watching TV, playing video games or using the computer before bed.
- Control your light. The brain produces a hormone, called melatonin, which helps regulate sleep, wake cycles and the biological clock in general. The production of this hormone is controlled by exposure to light.
If you feel that despite implementing self-help tips and ordering and changing your sleep habits, you still cannot overcome your insomnia, you may want to consider consulting with a health professional. A sleep specialist can observe your sleep patterns, brain waves, heart rate, rapid eye movements and more, by means of control devices connected to your body. You will then analyze the results of your sleep study and, if necessary, design a treatment program. You should find it encouraging that insomnia can and should be treated.