Have you developed sleep anxiety because you’ve slept poorly for so long? Not being able to sleep well can lead you to think more negatively about sleeping. Then, if you don’t sleep well again, it validates those negative thoughts, and the cycle continues. Over time, this can lead you to be anxious about how the night will go, and sleep anxiety can develop.
Symptoms of sleep anxiety
Sleep anxiety can affect people differently. Some may feel a sense of dread when it comes close to bedtime, while others may feel a sudden wave of panic. Below are some common symptoms of sleep anxiety:
- Nervousness or dread when trying to fall asleep.
- Excessive thinking or worrying about sleep.
- Chills or sweating.
- Increased heart rate or heart palpitations
- Difficulty concentrating.
- Fear that something bad will happen at night.
If you have any of these symptoms at night, or they are progressively getting worse, it’s best to contact your doctor and let them know your symptoms.
CBTI Tips for managing sleep anxiety
CBTI does not treat anxiety itself; however, it does help to restructure some of those negative thoughts around sleep and introduces positive sleep behaviors. Over time, you can retrain your mind and body to stop thinking so poorly about sleep and create healthier habits that positively impact your sleep. At Delta Sleep Coaching we have in-depth conversations with our clients so that we can address their personal sleep anxiety issues. Here are some tips we use to help our clients with sleep anxiety:
- Stop worrying so much about sleep and stop trying to force it to happen. Putting that unnecessary stress on your mind and body right before bed will almost always result in a poor night.
- Remind yourself that you’re doing ok! Not every night of sleep must be perfect; in fact, even good sleepers have poor nights. Remind yourself that last night was last night, and tonight is a new night. Even if you have a poor night, you always get through the day.
- Create a wind-down routine before bed. This helps to create a pattern that your body will start to associate with sleep. It also provides an opportunity to do some relaxing activities before bed.
- Don’t worry about the time. If you are a “clock-watcher” and look at the clock throughout the night, it may be beneficial to stop doing that. Looking at the clock can be a trigger that automatically tells your body to be stressed and not relaxed. Turning the clock around at night can eliminate a trigger that may acerbating your sleep anxiety.
- If you’re not sleeping, or your thoughts at night turn anxious, get out of bed and do something relaxing. Getting out of bed can stop negative associations with your bed. For example, if you only sleep in your bed, your body associates the bed with sleep. However, if you always get anxious in bed, your body then associates the bed with anxiety. We want to stop that association so that your body doesn’t get anxious on purpose when you get into bed. Leaving the bed allows you to do something relaxing for a while, then once you feel more relaxed and sleepier again, you can go back to bed.
These are just a few small tips we give our clients to help with sleep anxiety. We know that everyone is different, so we work with each client to find the best sleep improvement plan for them. If you’re ready to improve your sleep anxiety, visit our signup page.