When it comes to anxiety, it always appears to be worse at night.
Even if I’m exhausted, the moment the lights go off my brain shifts into high gear. A small noise down the hall or a fleeting recollection of something that happened earlier in the day might send my mind into a never-ending spiral of intrusive thoughts.
I’ll start berating myself for past decisions or agonize over decisions I’ll have to make tomorrow.
In my thoughts, I’ll repeat situations and ask myself, “What if?” over and over.
I’ll start worrying about my child or dog, and before long, I’ll be certain they’re sick or start thinking ways they could be hurt.
Will I hear my son if he wakes up and cries if I fall asleep? If I don’t hear him, will he try to crawl out of the crib? What if he falls asleep while I’m still awake? What happens if he falls and strikes his head?
What if something went wrong? What if something went wrong? So, what if…
It’s never-ending and exhausting.
I’ve been known to lie awake for hours, gripped by terror and unable to stop myself from envisioning the worst-case scenarios.
While watching my 3-month-old sleep, I once spent the entire night googling baby monitors that would warn me of a health risk.
Occasionally, my nervous thoughts would escalate into a full-fledged panic attack. My heart will pound and my chest will hurt, and I’ll feel dizzy. I have no choice but to wake my spouse and seek assistance on those evenings.
None of this is healthy or enjoyable, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who has ever suffered from nighttime anxiety.
Anxiety disorders impact nearly 40 million persons in the United States, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. It is the most prevalent mental illness in the United States.
Everyone has anxiety at some point in their lives, but it becomes a problem when excessive fear and worry last longer than one stressful incident. It will begin to appear for months at a time, disrupting daily activities.
An overactive amygdala in the brain causes anxiety disorders. The amygdala is a part of the brain that detects danger, similar to a smoke detector. When the amygdala detects danger, it sends a signal to the sympathetic nervous system, which I liken to a gas pedal. It stimulates the neurological system and prepares it for action.
The fight, flight, or freeze response prepares us for danger by causing our systems to release stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. As a result, your heart rate quickens, your blood pressure rises, and blood is diverted from your internal organs to your extremities, allowing you to fight or flee more effectively.
This instinctive procedure is great in the face of a serious threat or stressful incident. It naturally awakens the brain and body, giving it the extra boost it requires to deal with the threat. However, the difficulty with anxiety disorders is that there isn’t a real threat or stressor to deal with. It’s as if the amygdala is stuck on ‘on,’ and any event, person, memory, seemingly random idea, feeling, or body sensation can easily trigger you. There is no stressor to overcome or life to rescue, but the body is overwhelmed with a sensation of urgency.
Anxiety can be worse at night since we don’t have as many distractions from our worried thoughts as we have during the day.
What Can Be Done To Calm Down Before Sleep?
Well, first off, there’s no substitute for seeking help from a mental health professional.
An anxiety or trauma therapist, in particular, can help work with you to reduce your anxiety and panic symptoms. there are specific treatments, like EMDR or sensorimotor psychotherapy, which can be helpful in “resetting” your nervous system and settling your overactive amygdala that’s causing your anxiety disorder.
Pay attention to the air entering and leaving your body as you take several calm, deep breaths. Try focusing completely on what you’re doing right now: what do you see, hear, or smell?
Other therapists advise setting aside time for “worry time,” in which you sit down, allow yourself to worry, and then establish a strategy for dealing with some of the issues. Just make sure your “worry time” doesn’t coincide with your bedtime.
Routine of Sleeping
What that routine looks like is entirely up to you and your requirements. It’s meditation for some folks. Others find it as simple as soaking in a bubble bath before night, lighting a fragrant candle, caressing their cat, or reading a good book to help them relax.
What’s important is that you take some time to wind down.
This means avoiding stressful activities in the hours leading up to bedtime, such as paying bills, listening to the news, discussing politics, or browsing through your phone.
It’s especially crucial to minimize your screen time at night because blue light might make it difficult to sleep.
When you have anxiety it can be difficult to sleep and difficult to look for solutions as well- if you wanna read more let us know in the comments…