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What Is Sleep Anxiety?

Anxiety affects around 40 million people in the United States making it the most common mental health disorder. Anxious feelings and anxiety are a normal part of life. Life can be stressful and you’re only human after all. Stressful situations can easily trigger some form of anxiety. 

Unfortunately, when you struggle with chronic anxiety, it can impact multiple areas of your life and hit at any time of day. If you deal with stressful times during the day, it’s not uncommon for those feelings to carry with you into the evening. 

What Is Sleep Anxiety?

Sleep anxiety is a type of anxiety that causes an interruption before bedtime. While you go about your day to day tasks, it is easy for your brain to become distracted and less able to focus on any anxious thoughts. At night, however, there is a lot less to be focusing on. 

The idea of sleep anxiety can become a vicious cycle. Your anxiety can cause you to lose sleep. Not getting the recommended seven hours of sleep each night can result in increased anxiety. Sleep deprivation can trigger anxiety and also activate areas of the brain that control worrying. Hello constant overload. 

Sleep and anxiety are often hand in hand items. Over repeated occurrences, you will start to feel the difficulty going to bed. Maybe even harbor some feelings of dread. 

What Symptoms Come From Sleep Anxiety?

Research has shown a linkage to anxiety and sleep disturbances. Sleep is a key component to maintaining mental and physical health. Disrupted sleep can result in difficulty regulating emotions, poor metabolism, decreased immunity (an increase in illnesses), and reduced cognition. 

The more common symptoms of sleep anxiety include trouble sleeping (both falling and staying asleep), restlessness/nervousness, difficulty concentrating, stomach issues, nightmares, and body twitches. It can also lead to panic attacks. One panic attack can lead to additional nighttime anxiety for fear of it recurring. 

What Is The Impact?

Each person will have their own responses to sleep anxiety, but there are common effects that are generally shared. Continued lack of sleep or poor quality sleep can result in: 

  • Reduced cognitive processing
  • Reduced attention and ability to learn/focus
  • Poor work performance (or school)
  • Negative mood shift

Research has also shown that those with sleep anxiety (or insomnia) are up to four times more likely to develop depression. 

Since sleep is vital to the body’s ability to recover, there are also health implications. If you suffer from sleep anxiety, you are more likely to develop high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, or a stroke.

Who Suffers From Sleep Anxiety?

There is no age range that is excluded from having sleep anxiety. Children to adults have been shown to be affected in some manner. 

Anxiety can be more likely if you already suffer from insomnia, sleep apnea, narcolepsy, sleepwalking, or restless leg syndrome. 

It is also tied in with those who have other anxiety disorders, depression, panic attacks, PTSD, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and addiction problems. 

How To Know If You Have Sleep Anxiety

Sleep anxiety can be difficult to diagnose as it isn’t a clear-cut, black-and-white thing. Your healthcare provider can assess your background and ask some questions to direct them toward sleep anxiety. Things like what is your routine, how long to fall asleep, do you wake up during the night, what food are you eating before bed, etc.

A sleep study may also be used to better evaluate the situation. They can monitor your breathing, oxygen levels, heart rate, movement, and overall progression through sleep cycles.

If anxiety is disrupting your ability to sleep, there are methods that can be used and habits that can be adjusted to reduce its impact. Reach out soon to discuss your options when it comes to anxiety treatment.

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