It can be extremely difficult to sleep when you suffer from anxiety.
Your brain is working overtime to try and keep you ‘safe’ from a false perceived threat.
WHAT TO EXPECT
The most common form of anxiety I experience while I am sleeping is vivid and lucid nightmares.
They don’t occur as often as they used to, but every now and then I will have a terrifying nightmare that wakes me in a panicked state in the middle of the night.
For some reason, it is always the early morning hours of between 3-4am.
TYPES OF DREAMS
The dreams that I have vary.
Most commonly though, I dream that I am in some form of danger which makes it hard to sleep when you suffer from anxiety.
One where I am being hunted by people or sometimes an unknown entity.
Other times, my dream occurs in my bedroom and someone or something is trying to pull me out of bed.
I can recall one dream where this thing was trying to pull me out of bed, I managed to get away and stumble out of the room and down the corridor to my parents room. Trying to scream for help, but I couldn’t speak. I turned around and ‘it’ ran at me and I rolled over and woke up.
If you are having persistent nightmares that are interrupting your sleep, I advise you see a Doctor as soon as possible.
WHAT TO DO WHEN YOUR SLEEP IS INTERRUPTED
Here are some tips to help you get to sleep if you suffer from anxiety.
Exercising regularly will not only improve your overall fitness levels, but it will also help you get a full nights sleep.
Getting your heart rate up will release endorphins that will lift your mood for hours after exercising.
Jogging is best, around 15 minutes a day minimum works wonders for myself.
Keep a Journal of Your Dreams
Keeping a journal of your dreams is a great idea to see if you can find a pattern to your dreams.
This may help you understand if there is a theme to your dreams that you can work on with your psychologist.
Keep a journal next to your bed, and write down your dreams in the morning.
Try and pen down as much detail as you can before you forget the dream entirely.
Set A Regular Sleep Schedule
Setting a regular sleep schedule is one of the best ways to help you sleep when you suffer from anxiety.
By setting a regular bedtime, you are slowly training your body the difference between sleep time and awake time.
Go to bed at the same time and get out of bed at the same time, regardless of how much sleep you got.
Try and get 8 hours or more a night and it should start to help you sleep if you suffer from anxiety.
Limit Use Of Devices Before Bed
Did you know that the light from your smart device can trick your brain into thinking it is day time?
By limiting the use of any smart devices, you should be able to get a restful nights sleep.
For an hour or so before you go to bed, set your devices aside and do something else relaxing.
Have A Shower
Having a warm shower or bath before bed will relax your musles.
As you begin to relax, your body and mind will begin to relax also giving you a peaceful slumber.
Get Out Of Bed When You Can’t Fall Asleep
If you find yourself tossing and turning, get out of bed.
This extremely important because if you stay in bed and are overthinking, you start to train your brain that bed is for worry. You don’t want to do that.
Instead, get out of bed and do something else until you get sleepy.
You could read a book, do a crossword – nothing overly stimulating.
WHEN TO SEE A DOCTOR
Using the above tips and techniques should help you sleep if you suffer from anxiety.
If anxiety or depression are interrupting your day to day activities, I strongly suggest you see a Doctor.
If you or anyone you know is experiencing distress you can reach out to Beyond Blue: Beyond Blue’s support line is available 24/7.
Lifeline: For crisis support, Lifeline provides a 24/7 line, as well as online resources on a range of issues.