Improving Sleep Reduces Morning Anxiety
Updated December 18, 2018
One of the body's natural anxiety treatments is sleep. During sleep, the mind and body relax, so the next day is allowing a refreshed state in the morning, recharged and ready to battle the challenges of the day. Ironically, anxiety can make it harder to sleep. Sleep problems are extremely common in those with persistent stress, and in many cases, it can cause a cycle that makes it harder to overcome anxiety in the future.
The most important thing to know is that more than just a poor night's sleep initiating morning anxiety, there is also the effect of anxiety in turn affecting your ability to sleep through the night. So, with one or the other of these things happening first, it is likely that morning anxiety, stress and sleep disorders will remain if one or both of them are not treated quickly.
Understand Why Sleep Is So Important
The best thing about sleep is its ability to restore the body to the healthiest and most relaxed state. However, disrupted sleep or poor sleep patterns can increase tension, anxiety, stress, and irritability.
While many external occasions can disturb proper sleep, there are also medical and physical issues that can break up proper or complete sleep patterns as well. And without getting a full night's sleep, it is hard to return to a calm, relaxed state. This means morning anxiety. The mind and body both remain stressed and distressed as a whole. With less sleep, fatigue becomes an issue leading to less exercise and aggravated mood. While it's easy to tell yourself that there is just one event that causes one or two nights of poor sleep, a pattern can begin which will then lead to a long-term break in health and wellness as a whole.
The Level Of Sleeplessness In Our Country
The level of sleep disorders in America has ravaged our population, now reaching over 40 million with chronic sleep problems and over 20 million on top of that reporting occasional sleep problems. Reported by the National Institutes of Health, these numbers are strongly connected to stress and anxiety, both as an initiator and a continuing cause. Stress and anxiety are both symptoms of poor sleep, while they can also result in poor sleep. So, one way or the other both of these need to be managed properly in daily life to maintain a healthy mental and physical state.
With insomnia as the most common sleep diagnosis, many people have trouble falling asleep, cannot stay asleep, they wake too early in the morning or wake feeling unrefreshed. For these people, it is the basic definition that the true intention of sleep as a restorative state has not been achieved.
We Also Need To Know Why Anxiety Causes Sleep Problems
Now, it is important to know that the answer to this question is not just one reason. With the many effects that anxiety has on your body, it can affect your ability to fall asleep, stay asleep or gain a comfortable sleep-wake pattern. With sleep as the only true time that the mind and body are relaxed, without the ability to sleep, we can't relax from the issues that have caused our anxiety.
Once these issues begin, it can be quite frustrating. If you have not planned or scheduled your routine to end your day and go to bed, then some things stop you from falling asleep. Possibly your thoughts begin to race as soon as you lay down, whether it's what you need to do or what you should or shouldn't have done during the day. You may run over and over the bills and other things going on in the house, with the family and the kids. Then, one of the worst things happens. You look at the clock and realize how much time has gone by and start to think about how little time you have to sleep before you need to get up in the morning.
You most likely can't tell whether you have trouble sleeping because you're anxious or vice versa. But, it could be both. No matter which had initially come first, if the pattern has lasted for a significant amount of time you are likely dealing with both issues and they could both be getting worse at the same time.
Consider the many possible factors related to anxiety that can cause sleeping problems:
- Racing thoughts - Often the result of stress, causing the issue of focusing on any thoughts.
- Racing heart or body - Anxiety can cause the heart to race, which can make the entire body feel edgy and make it impossible to relax.
- Muscle tension - More related to stress, this is a natural physical result of the stressors in life and makes it difficult to relax and then to fall asleep.
- Your "needs" - A common result of anxiety is the feeling that there are certain things that we "need" to complete before going to bed. And this list can get longer and longer the worse that anxiety disorders become.
- Pain and other anxiety symptoms - As you become anxious you may become over-concerned about your health, or a hypochondriac. These could then become the thoughts or worries that continually keep you up later and later at night.
- Negative thoughts - As we become more anxious, we also become negative in a bad mood. This is another basic effect on the ability to relax and then fall asleep.
These are all issues that can be discussed with a medical professional as you start to see either morning anxiety or sleep problems arise and worsen.
Chicken Or The Egg: Which Is First, Anxiety Or Sleep Disorders?
The answer: either one. While it has previously been proven that anxiety causes sleep problems, new research also shows that sleep deprivation can cause anxiety disorders. While there may not be a truly chronic sleep disorder, anyone can have environmental, mental or physical issues that disrupt sleep throughout the night. This can be a result of psychiatric disorders, while insomnia can then add to the development of an anxiety disorder. And the best place to find the answer, with your doctor or a recommended health professional that specializes in either sleep or morning anxiety.
It is important to resolve your focus on whether you are looking to cure anxiety or sleep disorders but to consider them both together. This will follow with communication with your doctor that could lead to complete analysis and treatment of both issues properly. Since it is hard to tell which came first, but more likely to see that both are there, the best thing to do is to determine the best cure for both.
Health Problems Resulting From Morning Anxiety And Sleep Disorders
Several health risks occur from poor sleep. And these are much more than simply feeling tired. In the beginning, sleepless nights lead to poor performance at work or school, added injury risks. There are also many other potential health problems that can arise over time as you are sleepless on a regular basis. Basically, with less sleep over time you stress, and anxiety will increase which can cause issues with blood pressure, then fatigue leading to less exercise, and potential reliance on things like alcohol or over-the-counter drugs to put you to sleep. Even further there are the long-term risks of heart disease, heart failure, heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and obesity.
As any medical professional will tell you, the first thing to do when you believe you have trouble with anxiety or even sleep disorders, see your doctor. There will be some different treatment options available, though not necessarily prescriptions. Potentially cognitive or psychiatric therapy can help with the resolution of which issue is placing more trouble on your health, anxiety or sleep. These professionals will be able to work closely with you to develop the best sleeping patterns to resolve all anxiety and stress problems. With a combination of the proper relaxation techniques, bedtime routines, and stress management improved sleep patterns and reduced anxiety will likely be the result.
How To Get Rid Of Morning Anxiety Naturally
Remember that anxiety and sleep disorders both can be treated and cured naturally. It is not required to take pharmaceutical drugs that can lead to harsh side effects, but there are natural, physical methods that can help to return your body to a much calmer state. This will be able to treat both of these issues together.
Schedule some of the following natural routines or activities to help induce relaxation and improve your sleep-wake patterns:
- Meditation is helpful and simple. By breathing in and out deeply and slowly with the image of your own desired calm environment, you can envision yourself in that calm state. This is key at night before bed, but also in stressful times of the day when you find you have tensed up. There are also apps that can help with mediation and the ability to calm yourself.
- Incorporate exercise into your daily routine. It doesn't need to be rigorous, but simply make sure that you get a decent amount of activity during the day or those 10,000 steps that are so often promoted for positive health statistics. This can help exude all that stressful, intense energy that builds up. As this is released, it is not a factor in delaying or disrupting your sleep at night.
- Find a way to wind down or clear your mind at night before going to bed. It's a simple time to slow down by taking a warm bath, reading a book or playing quiet music, among other things. This is the short period before bed when you move away from social media and your phone, start to turn the lights down and turn the television off. This is one calming method that starts to tell the mind it is close to sleep time and natural melatonin production can begin. Any of these can be calming, relaxing and helpful to blood pressure.
- Organize and prioritize your to-do list so that you can truly focus on the tasks that are the most important. You will also be able to check off the items that are done and keep yourself in the check with those you have completed and can let go. Keep them written down on paper, and when you have them crossed off at night, it will be easier to keep your mind from racing when you try to go to sleep.
- Make sure you don't lie in bed awake. Especially if you are still awake after 20 minutes or so, get out of bed and try again. Try getting up and doing something relaxing and possibly sleep-inducing. It may take a little time to find out what activities work the best for you, but once you do it's good to keep a list of what you find most relaxing and use them regularly to help with better sleep. Again, be sure to avoid bright lights and screens because they will be more awakening but keep notes of what events are most relaxing for your mind and body over time.
- Try an activity called "tense and relax." To focus your stress or anxiety on a release method, you can start with your toes and then lower legs and further up your body. Squeeze your toes for 5-10 seconds and then relax. Try this a few times and then move up to your lower legs and the upper legs. Then you can move slowly up to your abdomen and all the way up your body until you feel the tension has been released from your body overall.
- Get plenty of sleep, because it recharges the brain and helps to improve focus, concentration, and mood.
- Redirect your anxiety and stress. This can be done by offering help to friends or family, or community volunteer services. Sometimes the helpful work provided will take your mind off the negative anxiety and stressors in your own life. Additionally, there is the option to talk to others in your life about these issues and how they may be able to help or simply listen. Then, if you find yourself unable to find some resolution, a doctor or therapist may be needed to talk out these problems.
Remember, there are no true answers or solutions to the question of whether anxiety or sleep disorders come first. Neither is there a definite answer to the correct solution for everyone's sleep and anxiety troubles. We are all different in how we respond to these issues and the rate at which they progress in development and health problems. Remember the importance of early assessment and an early attempt at treatment. It is never too soon to address the issue of a sleep disorder or morning anxiety or other stress problem and speak to your doctor as soon as possible. Everything can be treated; it just takes effort.