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On Overcoming Sleep Anxiety, a Torturous Condition

Most people will experience anxiety at some point in their life, and very often this anxiety is connected with sleep in some way or the other, referred to as sleep anxiety.

It is important for a person’s mental health to get enough sleep and make sure that the conditions surrounding their sleep, as well as their sleeping habits, are well adjusted. Sleep anxiety can occur in the form of worries, self blame or just unexplained uneasiness that starts to mount up before bed. This is a vicious circle that can create fear of sleep itself.

Patients suffering from general anxiety very often cannot sleep. They often describe being so tired that they can hardly keep their eyes open, but as soon as they walk into the bedroom or get into bed, it's like turning on a switch, and they are wide awake. 

Due to the repeated instances of lying awake in bed night after night, these problems can start to easily become a subconscious reaction, which is activated by the bed or bedroom itself. Sometimes even the thought of sleep can eventually cause a person to feel fully awake. 

In these cases, the bed actually activates the brain to wakefulness and works against the desire to sleep, and it can be very hard to get out of this reaction pattern. It can only be broken by the experience of falling asleep as soon as the person goes to bed. 


There are two opposing forces in play: the effect that the bed can have on the brain and thus the body, convincing you that you are no longer tired; and the effect that the need for sleep has on the mind and body, which basically forces it to eventually shut down. In order for a person with sleep anxiety to fall asleep, the latter influence must "win".

Sleep Anxiety, Insomnia, and the Causes

sleep anxietySleep anxiety and insomnia go hand in hand with one another. When a person suffers from insomnia, they constantly worry about the amount of sleep that they are getting every night. This then leads to them lying awake at night thinking about how little sleep they got the previous night, when causes them to not be able to fall asleep. 

Of course, this will then cause the person to focus on the fact that they cannot fall asleep and how much stuff they have to do the next day, which will continue the cycle and cause them to stay awake for even longer. 

Finally, the next day they will constantly think about how tired they are and how little sleep they have been getting, which will again make them worry whether or not they will be able to fall asleep that night. This is all a vicious cycle indeed.

While it may not seem so right now, there is hope for you if you're suffering from anxious sleep problems. The most important thing for a person suffering from these problems to understand is that while insomnia may be caused by many different factors, anxious sleep itself is purely a mental problem involving thinking too much about how little sleep you get. Luckily this mental, thinking problem can be cured. Sleep anxiety is a simple habit that people with anxiety can fall into easily. Still, getting rid of this habit is not nearly as easy.

Sleep Anxiety Remedies

There are many remedies available that can help remove anxiety connected with sleep. Cognitive therapy, as well as methods for relaxation, can be very useful, and are often recommended above sleeping medication. If you experience a feeling of anxiety constantly in your everyday life, it is extremely crucial to battle the condition in the waking hours in order to be able to sleep better and more soundly through the night. 

sleep anxietyCognitive behavioral therapy is the most useful method for curing both insomnia and any anxiousness that comes with it. One of the first steps of any cognitive behavioral therapy program is to understand what you are thinking when trying to fall asleep, because it is most often these thoughts that are causing you to stay awake. 

In order to change your thinking patterns, it is often useful to keep a sleep diary of the thought patterns that you have when trying to sleep, because it is necessary to understand these thoughts to change them. 

Often the thoughts that keep a person awake at night are actually quite irrational and not true, and when a person sees them written down and reviews them, they may start to realize just how irrational these thoughts are. The next step is then to write down more rational, calm, and pleasing thoughts, and repeat these to yourself as you are trying to fall asleep. It may take some time, but these thoughts will eventually start to replace the negative thoughts that keep you awake. Look at your notes right before switching off your night light, and look at them again right after you wake up the next morning.

The one important thing to understand about any bad habit is that it is based in the brain, and a person cannot get rid of one habit without replacing it with another. This is the same reason why many people find it difficult to quit smoking without some sort of aid. 

Often people will end up replacing their smoking habit with chewing gum or some other habit because the brain needs a replacement for the habit since it has gotten so used to it. By repeating the good thoughts to yourself every night, you can eventually replace the bad anxious sleep habits with the good, pleasing, positive thoughts.

While cognitive behavioral therapy is the most common and most successful method used to treat anxious sleep issues, meditation also works for many people. 

sleep anxietyBasically, meditation works in the same way as CBT, by forcing a person to clear their mind from all of the negative thoughts that flood their brain when they try to sleep. 

By entering a meditative, trance like state, the indiviudal is able to focus only on their breathing and will usually come out feeling much more relaxed and without the negative thoughts. Of course there is always the chance that the negative, irrational thoughts will creep back into the person’s head after the meditation. This is why CBT is normally considered a more successful and, most importantly, a long lasting treatment

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