According to data from the CDC, anxiety disorders affect more than 40-million Americans over the age of 18-years. Apart from panic attacks and feelings of worry during the day, high-anxiety makes it challenging to fall asleep at night. Individuals with the disorder make frequently toss and turn at night, or experience sleep disorders like insomnia.
The impact of insomnia is devastating on mental health. Without a good night’s sleep, your body feels run down, and your mind exacerbates the symptoms of anxiety. Doctors treat patients with anxiety using pharmaceutical drugs like Xanax. These drugs block neural pathways that induce the disorder.
It’s necessary for people experiencing symptoms of chronic high-anxiety to use these drugs to maintain a balanced mental state. However, anti-anxiety medication has the propensity for misuse or abuse and frequently results in dependency with users.
Many people see this as a trade-off that’s worth the risk to achieve a good night’s sleep. However, other strategies can reduce the need for their administration.
The Dangers of Sleeping Medication
Elevated heart rate and an over-active mind are typical symptoms of night-time anxiety that prevent people from falling asleep. It’s challenging to focus on breathing and quieten thoughts while it feels like your heart is beating out of your chest and worrisome thoughts run amok.
Many people experiencing these symptoms of high anxiety may turn to sleep medications to help them get the rest they need. However, much like Xanax, sleeping drugs also create dependency. Physicians typically don’t like to prescribe these medications for permanent use.
Sleeping aids are meant to help individuals establish a sleeping routine and adjust their circadian rhythm to normal function. Therefore, a typical course of sleeping medication may only last for two to three weeks before ceasing use. Remaining on a sleeping drug protocol for longer than 3-weeks can lead to dependency.
Coming off sleeping medication protocols that last for 3-weeks or longer may spur insomnia with individuals that develop a dependency on the compounds.
Natural Sleep Formulas Aren’t Much Better
Similarly, using OTC (over-the-counter) sleeping aids for an extended period is also not a good idea. Many formulas of OTC sleep aids contain anti-histamines that have a detrimental effect on health with extended periods of use. These compounds affect liver and kidney function and ruin the health of the gut flora biomes in the digestive tract.
9-Steps to Reducing Night Time Anxiety
Before you open the medicine cabinet, try this 9-step protocol for sleep hygiene that reduces night time anxiety.
1. Limit Stimulants
Stimulants like coffee and energy drinks exacerbate symptoms of anxiety. Keep coffee for the morning and drink water throughout the day.
2. Eat Early
Digestion draws blood to your gastrointestinal tract and keeps you awake at night. Eat at least 6-hours before bedtime.
3. Take a Yoga Class
Stretching and breathing will help your body unwind from the stress of the day and induce sleep.
4. Bath with Essential Oils
Run a hot tub with essential oils. Lavender and lemongrass will clear your mind and relax your body as you breathe in the steam.
5. Drink Herbal Tea
Pour yourself a cup of chamomile tea 2-hours before bed. The natural polyphenols in the herb relax the body and drive away stress.
6. Avoid Screen Time
Looking at your phone’s screen before bed will trick your brain into thinking it’s still daytime. Avoid watching TV and turn off your mobile device 2-hours before bed.
7. Read a Book
Reading a book will increase feelings of drowsiness before bed.
8. Prepare Your Environment
Make sure your room is dark. Draw black-out curtains and use a sleep mask to ensure an optimal sleep environment.
Meditating for a few minutes before you go to sleep quietens the mind and helps induce the alpha brainwave state that will help you drift off to sleep.
The Final Thought- What We Resist Persists
Pause and command your brain to quieten down if you find your mind wandering when you’re trying to fall asleep. Don’t force it; you’ll create greater feelings of anxiety.