how can i fix my poor sleep schedule when anxiety won’t let me fall asleep?

when i try to sleep earlier around 12am (when i need to be going to sleep) i toss and turn for hours and this thing happens where i forget to breathe and then i jump or gasp for air, and i don’t know how to stop it long enough for me to get to sleep. that happens until around 4 or 5 am when i can finally sleep and then i end up sleeping till like 1pm the next day, and i need this to change asap because i am a student and have studies to get to every day! what would you suggest i do to make the anxiety and sleep apnea subside early enough to get some rest?
Asked by Nat

Hi Nat, 

Thank you so much for reaching out with this question. Sleep is one of the most important activities we can implement in order to manage mental and physical well being. Studies have shown that having a full night’s rest will cleanse the toxins from the folds in our brain which will create a clarity and emotional balance in our bodies. What you are experiencing when you sleep is an interruption of your sleep which creates just the opposite of clarity and emotional balance; more like you experience disruption, imbalance and increase in your stress. The challenge of creating a healthy sleep routine is interrupted by your body's lack of ability to fall and stay asleep.

Your illustration of your sleep struggles indicates that you may have a condition that needs to be assessed by a medical professional or a sleep specialist. Your best option is to look into a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBTI) program in your area. In CBTI you will be assessed for disordered sleeping and receive non-medicated treatment. There are five components to CBTI: sleep consolidation, stimulus control, cognitive restructuring, sleep hygiene, and relaxation techniques. 

If worry is keeping you from falling asleep, one technique you can try is a worry box or a worry notebook. Find a box (you can get creative and invent your own box to give it a personal flare) or get a notebook. Place this item by your bed. Before you climb into bed, write down all of your worry thoughts, not in detail, only as a statement. An example could be: “I am worried about my presentation tomorrow”. Take that piece of paper with your worry thought and place it in your worry box, or keep it in your worry notebook. If you find yourself beginning to attach to your worry again, simply remind yourself that the worry box or notebook is already taking care of your worry thoughts; therefore you have no right to take it back. 

But again, I believe CBTI is going to be your best approach for creating a healthy sleep routine and give you the relief you need from your current struggle. Don’t stop seeking a solution to creating a healthy sleep pattern. There will be no healthier activity for self-care than rejuvenating cleansing sleep. All the best to you; do not stop seeking how to be the healthiest you that you can be.