Anxiety and Sleep Disorders
Anxiety and stress can create sleep problems and even lead to a sleep disorder. Plus discover why some anxiety medications can worsen sleep disorders.
Typical anxiety and stress can hinder sleep, and many symptoms of an anxiety disorder can further exacerbate a sleep problem. Many times, anxiety co-occurs with depression, which is also associated with sleep disorders.
What is an Anxiety Disorder?
Anxiety disorders consist of a range of mental illnesses including:
- panic disorder
- obsessive compulsive disorder
- posttraumatic stress disorder
- social anxiety disorder
- generalized anxiety disorder
While everyone experiences anxiety or nervousness at times, anxiety disorders differ as they cause distress that negatively interferes with everyday life. Symptoms of an anxiety disorder include:
- Feelings of panic, fear and uneasiness
- Uncontrollable, obsessive thoughts
- Repeated thoughts or flashbacks of traumatic experiences
- Ritualistic behaviors, such as repeated hand washing
- Cold or sweaty hands and/or feet
- Shortness of breath
- An inability to be still and calm
- Dry mouth
- Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
- Muscle tension
- Problems sleeping, nightmares
Sleep Disorders and Anxiety
- REM behavior disorder, including panic attacks and sleep paralysis
Insomnia is the most universal, and while anxiety is known to induce insomnia, insomnia can also cause or worsen anxiety. Many people with anxiety find themselves awake at night due to fear, worry, obsessive thoughts, nightmares or gastrointestinal problems.
Anxiety and sleep disorders can often create a vicious circle. Anxiety induces a disorder such as insomnia. Lack of sleep then worsens anxiety, which makes insomnia worse, causing more anxiety.
Some antidepressants prescribed for anxiety can also worsen sleep disorders ("Treating Anxiety-Related Sleep Disorder")
1 Ross, Jerilyn, M.A. The Link Between Anxiety and Sleep Disorders Health Central. Jan 5, 2009. http://www.healthcentral.com/anxiety/c/33722/54537/anxiety-disorders
Tracy, N. (2019, September 8). Anxiety and Sleep Disorders, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, July 11 from https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/sleep-disorders/anxiety-and-sleep-disorders