3 Lessons On Sleep and Mental Health

How anxiety can lead to sleeplessness and what to do if you are suffering.

Stress 09th Feb, 2021

If you have ever suffered from anxiety, or have problems with it now, you may have noticed that you are also struggling to sleep. This is often due to being unable to shut down anxious thoughts going around your mind. This can eventually lead to short-term insomnia as you get stuck in a cycle. This loop of being too anxious to sleep, worrying you aren’t getting enough sleep and will be tired the next day, keeps you awake even longer, leading to anxiety around sleep. When you understand the links, it may help you break this cycle.

Problems Caused By Sleep Deprivation:

It is vital to be aware of the problems caused by sleep deprivation. If you are suffering from any of the following issues you may be affected. it is also important to know you are not alone, there is a lot of easily accessible support. Go to https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/understanding-panic/ for advice and help.

  • Feeling isolated, lonely, or like no one understands you are suffering.
  • Struggling to make any decision or concentrate on anything.
  • Being irritable or feeling like you have no energy and can’t seem to function as normal.
  • Having issues with daily life, facing disciplinary action at work due to poor work, or relationships with friends/family breaking down.
  • Feeling depressed, anxious, or suicidal.

Sleepless Symptoms To Be Aware Of:

If you have 3 or more of the following symptoms, you may want to consult your doctor, or therapist and get some help. You can also get free help from sleep apps here – https://www.nhs.uk/apps-library/category/sleep/

  • Taking longer than 30 minutes to fall asleep, regularly waking up during the night, or waking up very early and not being able to get back to sleep.
  • Having a panic attack, nightmares, or flashbacks that disturb your sleep.
  • Finding it almost impossible to wake up or get out of bed.
  • Sleeping for hours longer than you usually would.

Simple Solutions You Can Try:

These solutions are aimed at helping short-term sleeplessness. If you have long-term insomnia (a period of 3 months or more) you may have already tried all of these. Looking into Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Insomnia could be more helpful.

Lower the temperature in your bedroom. It is difficult for anyone to sleep in a really warm room, change your heating to 18-19 degrees celsius and see if that helps.

Evaluate your bedroom furniture, is your mattress comfortable, or are there broken springs in your back, are your pillows flat? If necessary get a new, or second-hand mattress (check it before making payment), new pillows and bedding. You could be amazed at the difference it makes.
Relax for half an hour before going to bed. Whether that means having a bath, reading, or meditating. Make sure you are not playing on your phone, or watching television, as the bright lights can prevent you getting to sleep.
Wear an eye mask and ear plugs. Many people are more sensitive to light and sound than they realise.

When you are aware of the links between anxiety and sleeplessness, it is easier to spot the early warning signs in yourself, friends and family and do something to improve the situation.

This can, however, be a complex area, so while the ideas above may be all the help you need, do not hesitate to consult your doctor, or therapist and get a professional opinion.

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