Do you suffer from night anxiety?

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Robert Maurer

Do you suffer from night anxiety?

Last update: 06 September, 2017

If at nightfall our thoughts prevent us from relaxing and getting to sleep, it means that anxiety has gained ground, and a very important ground, in our life. Night anxiety is caused by high levels of stress generated during the day, due to work, family, the sum of the tensions in both areas or even for no apparent reason. This form of anxiety sees worry and nervousness surface when it comes time to rest.

Night anxiety is one of the most frequent manifestations when suffering from some sleep disorder. Fear takes hold of the person who suffers from it, who constantly awakens, it is therefore difficult for them to reach the deep stages of sleep.

People with nighttime nervousness are usually distracted and have difficulty concentrating during the day. This is due to the fact that nocturnal anxiety attacks prevent rest and this negatively affects the individual's daily routine. 

When it comes to sleep, quality is better than quantity. If we focus on the thought of not being able to sleep, instead of trying to relax and think that we will gradually fall asleep, it will be very difficult to fall asleep. We must therefore wait for him, understanding that he will be reached as a natural process as it is, without obsessing over thinking that he will not show up for the appointment.

It is paradoxical that sleep, being necessary for survival and correct psychological functioning, presents such a wide range of disorders and dysfunctions that in many cases require complex intervention.

To overcome nocturnal anxiety, we can try to identify its causes during the day and acquire the skills sufficient to deprive her of influence. Once her fears and worries are overcome, her anxiety and symptoms will disappear.

Causes of night anxiety

Anxiety knows no timetables, consequently we can suffer from it even at night, when we are supposed to be relaxed. In this sense, anxiety is an emotion that we must not underestimate, since its energy, poorly channeled, can accumulate and cause us numerous problems.

Anxiety disorders manifest themselves in such different ways that it is difficult to systematically classify them and identify their causes. Some people feel very agitated, while others are paralyzed. Likewise, some people notice increased anxiety in the morning, while others panic when they go to sleep.

Worry makes us anxious, and it is they who, in the last resort, steal our hours of sleep. They are the main cause of nighttime anxiety. Worrying about the future and bandaging your head before breaking it make us more vulnerable to stress and insomnia. Not being able to easily switch off when we go to bed, excess work during the day and emotional problems are the main causes of worry and, therefore, of night anxiety.

However, there is a fundamental difference: in the evening, most of the problems that worry us cannot be solved. Ruminating on them, therefore, only increases our concern and activates us, a state opposite to that which attracts sleep.

On the other hand, high levels of anxiety accumulated and experienced during the day do not allow you to sleep peacefully. It is difficult to reconcile sleep as a result of constant fatigue, low daily performance and the discomfort caused by this condition.

Anxiety, when it overcomes us, takes control and when it takes control, it usually leads us to adopt behaviors that eliminate it for a few minutes, and then “resurrect” with more force. One of these paralyzing behaviors that allow anxiety to come back stronger is that of "attacking" the refrigerator at night.

Furthermore, the symptoms of nocturnal anxiety are commonly preceded by earlier episodes of anxiety (daytime anxiety). These episodes are usually accompanied by tachycardia, feelings of distress, feelings of oppression and traumatic awakening.

How to cope with anxiety insomnia? 

In most cases, people who suffer from this alteration seek substances or drugs that allow them to be calmer and thus sleep better. However, we are rarely aware of the fact that many of the cases of night anxiety can be redirected through some strategies, and taking drugs or medicinal plants is not always the best solution.

Anxiety is highly linked to what we do, think and feel; therefore, depending on how we manage these three aspects in the moments before sleep, we will be calmer or more nervous. Treatment for night anxiety can be divided into two large blocks:

First of all, there must be a change in the habits that precede going to bed. Once this is done, we must learn to manage daily worries and confine them to a space away from the night. Analyzing your problems early in the morning gives you a more compliant perspective and you have more time to solve them.

A good strategy for getting a pleasant rest is to play sports before going to sleep, as the mind will keep us awake, but the body will be tired. This will help us sleep more easily. It is equally important to avoid alcohol and caffeinated drinks in the hours leading up to rest.

If we wake up at night, we must try to keep our eyes closed and think about the relaxing and pleasant sensation caused by sleep. The ideal against insomnia is to stop worrying about problems that we cannot solve in bed. Let us abandon the worries, let us free ourselves and sleep will come.  

Here are 7 strategies for dealing with nighttime anxiety:   

  • Maintain constant schedules. Insomnia and nighttime anxiety can also occur because you don't follow a defined schedule. Sleeping at the same time every day, with a difference of about 30 minutes, regulates our circadian rhythms allowing us to produce natural and quality sleep.
  • Avoid dining in excess. Particular attention should be paid to dinner, as heavy foods can make it difficult to get to sleep.
  • Create a pleasant environment. We must take care of the space in which we sleep: the absence of a comfortable pillow and a correct temperature can cause poor sleep quality and can make us wake up in the middle of the night and then no longer sleep well.
  • Use the bed only for sleeping. Experts say that to sleep better, the bedroom should only be used for resting or having sex, so you shouldn't keep your computer in this home space. Likewise, having a television nearby can be counterproductive, especially if we go to bed with it on.   
  • Practice relaxation techniques. Relaxation exercises have a positive effect against anxiety, stress and insomnia.
  • Take deep breaths. This exercise will allow us to focus on our own breathing, thus avoiding the occurrence of thoughts that can make us nervous and prevent us from sleeping. Deep Breathing Exercise:   

-Breathe deeply through the diaphragm, directing attention to movement and the air entering and leaving the stomach.

- Breathe out slowly from the mouth and with each inhalation, mentally repeat a word or phrase such as "I am calm" or "I am very sleepy". At the same time, imagine a landscape or a mental image that conveys calm and serenity.

-Do not try to attract sleep with thoughts that directly allude to it. Seek relaxation, not sleep. As we relax, we will be invaded by sleep.

  • Prohibit the entry of negative thoughts before going to sleep. Try not to do it directly, but by attracting thoughts that relax you and that in no case cause you concern.

Insomnia is not a good companion. People with insomnia suffer, and a lot. A good rest is one of the best tools to avoid accumulating errors during the day and, therefore, problems and worries that assail at night. We are therefore talking about a vicious circle in a positive and negative sense and it is our hand that chooses the direction in which to direct it.

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