If you’re experiencing anxiety, you’re probably struggling with a sleep disorder too. This is because when you’re worried about things it’s hard for your brain to settle down at night. Unfortunately, this may make you feel even more anxious the next day.
Which Comes First the Anxiety or the Sleep Disorder?
You’ve heard the adage, “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” Well, the same is true here. Researchers discovered that the relationship between anxiety and sleep problems is bidirectional which means they can both be causes of each other. Additionally, they both can impact how you function mentally, physically, and emotionally.
Due to this strong relationship, you’ll want to address both issues with your doctor. Failure to do so could result in more problematic issues including missing work or school, developing other health issues (e.g., heart attack, stroke, hypertension, diabetes), and injuring yourself or others. Treating one without treating the other is also unlikely to produce the results you’d hoped for.
After talking to your doctor about your concerns, you may be referred to a sleep clinic so they can get more information about your sleep disorder. They may also educate you in regards to good sleep hygiene or work with you to create an action plan to help you sleep through the night.
As for your anxiety, you’ll either be prescribed medication, offered cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), or a combination of both may be recommended. CBT is a form of evidence-based psychotherapy that’s used to challenge your anxious thoughts.
Get Plenty of Exercise
Exercise is a great way to lower your anxiety and improve upon your sleep disorder. Make sure you don’t exercise right before trying to sleep as it’ll only keep you awake. Instead, try to exercise first thing in the morning or early in the afternoon. Doing so will get your sleeping and waking cycle back on track.
Make Your Environment Conducive for Sleeping
People with a sleep disorder need to pay extra attention to maintaining good sleep hygiene. This means controlling the light, temperature, and sound in your room so you get a good night’s rest. Another thing that doctors recommend is taking a shower or a bath before you go to bed. Doing so will lower your body temperature so you can fall asleep faster.
Limit Alcohol and Caffeine Consumption
When you consume too much caffeine or alcohol late in the day or even in the evening you’ll become anxious and unable to sleep. This is because these substances increase your heart rate. So it’s a good idea to try trading out the caffeine and alcohol for more water. However, you also don’t want to drink too much of this near your bedtime since you’ll be up going to the bathroom then.
Calm Your Mind
Your therapist may recommend trying mindfulness meditation to help calm your mind. If this doesn’t work for you, try yoga or breathing exercises. These techniques help keep your mind calm throughout the day so you can sleep better at night. This is why some people find taking a short walk while on break at work is beneficial for them. All of these things are known to trigger a relaxation response in your brain so you sleep better at night.
Limit screen time
Try limiting the amount of time you spend watching TV or using your phone or tablet an hour before you go to bed. These all emit light that keeps your brain awake. You may even accidentally trigger your anxiety if you do work right before bedtime. If you struggle to stop using these things, consider setting an alarm to remind yourself to do so then spend the time reading a book or listening to some calming music.
Ask for Help
Sometimes people find that despite how hard they try these things don’t work for them. If this is true for you, make sure you seek help from your doctor or a therapist. Both of these conditions are easily treated.
We want you to know that we’re here for you at TMS Advantage in St Petersburg and Clearwater, FL. We’ll help you get a proper diagnosis and the support you need for your anxiety. There’s no need to suffer from your sleep disorder when we’re just a phone call away so make that call today.
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