Nighttime Anxiety and Getting Back to Sleep
Nighttime anxiety can make it difficult to get back to sleep. Yawn if you've ever had this problem: it's the middle of the night, and suddenly you find yourself wide awake. Sure, you're tired, but you're wired, too, which makes that much-needed sleep elusive. Anxious thoughts race through your mind, and no matter what you do, they won't slow down, let alone stop. You need sleep. You want sleep. Believe it or not, it's possible to get back to sleep despite nighttime anxiety.
Nighttime Anxiety and An Active Mind
As many of us are painfully aware, anxiety can be present any time of day or night (Anxiety Disorder Symptoms, Anxiety Disorder Signs). One would hope that we could at least experience peaceful rest once we fall asleep. To the frustration of a great many people, though, once something wakes us up, anxiety thinks it's playtime.
One of the major issues in being unable to get back to sleep because of nighttime anxiety is that we have few distractions when we're lying in bed in the dark. We don't have tasks on which to focus, and there aren't people and things around to occupy our thoughts. Sure, the mind frequently races with anxiety in the daytime, but having distractions does help divert our attention. At night, with fewer distractions, anxiety often runs more rampant.
In the middle of the night, anxiety mushrooms. Our minds race faster and our problems seem bigger, worse than they are during the day. Therefore, it's hard to get back to sleep because of nighttime anxiety.
Why Nighttime Anxiety Makes It Hard to Get Back to Sleep
Especially at night, anxiety has free reign. It controls our thoughts and our emotions. It also penetrates the body, creating muscle tension, stomachaches, headaches, and so much more. Yes, anxiety symptoms can occur intensely during the daytime, too, but again, because there is not much to distract us, they feel somehow more noticeable during the nighttime.
Sometimes nighttime anxiety can be so disruptive that it affects sleep on a regular basis. Further, sometimes sleep is so elusive that it increases anxiety; there is often a relationship between anxiety and sleep disorders.
How to Get Back to Sleep Despite Nighttime Anxiety
Anxiety can be hard to deal with; however, it's not impossible to beat anxiety. There are multiple strategies, such as solution-focused strategies, to beat anxiety. So many of these, though, are designed to be used when we're actually supposed to be awake, during the daytime. How are we supposed to get back to sleep despite nighttime anxiety?
There are, indeed, ways to fall back asleep despite anxiety at night. Some involve using the body, others involve using the sense of smell. All involve disengaging the mind rather than fighting with the anxious thoughts.
In the below video, I share three specific techniques to use to get back to sleep despite nighttime anxiety.
Three Tips to Get Back to Sleep Despite Nighttime Anxiety Video
Peterson, T. (2015, September 24). Nighttime Anxiety and Getting Back to Sleep, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, December 5 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2015/09/get-back-to-sleep-despite-nighttime-anxiety
Author: Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC, DAIS
Thank you for this. I find it incredibly helpful to count back from 100. It's easy enough that it doesn't take a lot of brain energy, but distracting enough from my thoughts that I can fall back to sleep. I also use aromatherapy by taking a small spray bottle, filling it with witch hazel, and several drops of lavender or chamomile. Hope these ideas help someone too!
Thank you for sharing these suggestions! I think they are definitely going to be helpful for many people.
Why the video for kids- what happened to the adults?