Nocturnal stress is caused by the same triggers as during the day. However, the combination of nervousness and trouble sleeping can mimic other conditions which can make you think that it's something else. If you're concerned that mental health is impacting your sleep, continue reading this article to learn more and reach out to BetterHelp to work one-on-one with a qualified sleep therapist.
Anxiety can be triggered by normal stress-inducing events and have distinct symptoms. It can also manifest as generalized anxiety. Some people are just more prone to anxiety than others, based on hereditary factors and temperament. However, most people are familiar with these general anxiety symptoms. Anxiety can make you feel like you’re all alone. However, almost twenty percent of the population suffers from anxiety. This means that there is a lot known about how to effectively treat anxiety.
At night, your brain and subconscious mind continue to process and deal with challenges experienced during the day. If the challenge is severe, it could lead to insomnia or other sleep disturbances. In extreme cases, you could wake up from a panic attack, experience night terrors, or have sleep paralysis. Many people also experience “stress dreams.” These dreams usually involve everyday actions in which things go terribly wrong. Stress dreams aren’t as vivid or jarring as night terrors but can still disturb sleep.
Insomnia or sleep disturbances such as nightmares or night terrors are diagnostic markers for normal anxiety, as well as anxiety disorders. During a time of great stress, a person’s hormonal system is affected, so it can become common for people who are going through this to wake up at night or feel extreme anxiety. It can even battle to get back to sleep. Whatever is causing anxiety during the day, is likely to show up at night too.
It is important to note the distinction between occasional nocturnal anxiety, and nocturnal anxiety due to an anxiety disorder. The former can be addressed and solved with a few lifestyle changes, supplemented with therapy and counseling. The latter, however, can only be diagnosed by a medical doctor or psychiatrist and is best treated with medication and lifestyle changes.
Knowing the difference between occasional anxiety and something else can be important for getting the help that you need. While most people with anxiety share some common symptoms, the complete set of symptoms is different for everybody. Below are some common symptoms of occasional anxiety (experienced by everyone).
For most, symptoms of nighttime anxiety will disappear once the stressors are gone, alleviated, or managed. In the case of a great life upheaval or trauma, anxiety symptoms can last for months. If they last longer, it may be time to visit a medical professional, as you may be suffering from an anxiety disorder.
Anxiety disorders are a group of mental disorders characterized by distinct symptoms. Mental disorders can only be diagnosed and treated by a professional doctor or licensed therapist. You don’t need to have all of these symptoms to have an anxiety disorder. If you have a lot of them or some of them fit you really well, it’s best to talk to a licensed therapist or your doctor.
As stated above, if you experience any or all of the above symptoms, please seek out professional help.
Continuous sleep deprivation or insomnia due to anxiety can lead to more problems. Our hormone and autonomic nervous systems are especially vulnerable to prolonged or repeated stress- the latter of which, if left untreated, can even lead to “a dysfunctional arousal state and pathological anxiety states.” For this reason, it’s very important to manage stress and nip its effects in the bud. If not, it could cause chronic insomnia and even sleep deprivation- both of which will usher in a host of health problems. That’s bad news and is best avoided.
In the United States, insomnia is the most common specific sleep disorder. Approximately 30% of adults report short-term problems with sleeping, while 10% experience chronic insomnia. Not all people who have anxiety develop insomnia, and not all people who develop insomnia have anxiety. However, if you do experience insomnia, you should be careful of its harmful effects. For example, not getting adequate sleep can give rise to an array of health problems such as:
The sooner you address the anxiety that keeps you awake at night, as well as any other excessive symptoms, the better. Humans are creatures of habit, and it is possible, even probable, to get into the habit of feeling anxious. It’s never good to suppress any feelings, and truly facing anxiety and its causes is of paramount importance in order to avoid a negative response to stress.
The following are tips for dealing with stress, which is the #1 cause of anxiety. Do note that only persistence with the following will result in long-term benefits. Over time, these will become good habits and serve as valuable tools to stay in control of anxiety, instead of remaining under anxiety’s debilitating influence.
As you work on dealing with nighttime anxiety, it is important to track your sleep and know how much sleep you need to be healthy. As we age, we need less sleep, but sleep doesn’t become less important as we age. Be sure to get enough hours of shut-eye for your age group:
Cognitive-behavioral therapy has been shown to be effective in permanently reducing anxiety symptoms and can help with nighttime anxiety. If your symptoms are related to a traumatic event or series of events, therapy or counseling is strongly recommended.
Most often, treating the cause of the anxiety will solve sleep or nighttime issues. Be sure to exclude any physiological causes of anxiety or insomnia, and consider getting help. Even if diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, therapy will be very helpful in managing symptoms. Therapy or counseling can help you determine the reasons behind high anxiety levels. Research shows that online therapy can be a powerful tool in reducing anxiety symptoms.
BetterHelp’s online therapists and counselors are professionally trained to uniquely assist you with nighttime anxiety, or anxiety in general, and they could be all you need to regain your healthy sleep patterns. If meeting with a counselor or therapist over the internet seems strange to you, consider reading the following reviews from real BetterHelp users.
“I tried a few counselors and almost gave up until I found Colleen. I love her! She’s easy to talk to, really gets me and best of all she makes me feel like I’m talking to a friend. She’s given me some great tips and I’m sleeping better already most nights.”
“Dr. Broz had made a significant impact on my life. After just one session with her I was able to get more sleep and handle issues with my husband and young kids better. She’s empathic and very easy to talk to. I would recommend her to anyone looking for help with stress, sleep issues, anger or relationship advice. Thanks Sandra for everything you do for me and all your patients.”
Stress and anxiety aren’t often related, but they often go together. If you’ve tried everything and there’s no other explanation for your late nights, anxiety could be keeping you up. That doesn’t mean that you have to put up with it.