I was talking to a relative who was talking about the night before her wedding. She said, “I remember the night before my wedding I was constantly tossing and turning. I had so much anxiety and stress about how the wedding was going to turn out. I spent hours that night thinking about such things as how I am going to look, will everyone find the wedding reception and is the food going to taste great. I knew my worries were all a waste of time and everything would turn out find. I would even tell myself this to help get me to sleep. Unfortunately the stress got a better hold of me and I must have only gotten about a few hours of sleep that night. Anxiety for such a special occasion is typical however this is not the first time I have stayed awake at night because I have felt stressed and anxious. My anxiety has occurred so frequently during the night that I decided to get help from a medical doctor. After examining me and referring me to a psychologist it was determined that I had a anxiety disorder that was preventing me from getting a good nights rest.” My relative is not the only person who has stress keeping her awake at night. According to Vikram Tarugu, MD, “Anxiety is one of the most common causes of insomnia, and more than 19 million Americans suffer from an anxiety disorder.” From doing research I have learned the impact stress has on sleep and what people who have anxiety can do to help get a good nights sleep.
Stress can have a great impact on sleep. Our body becomes aroused because of stress. When this happens the body works on eliminating and or coping with what is causing them stress. People often resolve the stress at least for a temporary time before they go to sleep. However some people are not able to do this and the feelings of anxiety continue keeping the person awake at night. Some people who do fall asleep and still have the stress chemicals flowing through their body could have nightmares that will also keep them up at night.
There are different treatments and things that people with an anxiety disorder can do to help them get a good nights rest. A person can get counseling for their anxiety disorder. Dr. Richard Ross, a professor of psychiatry at the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center states, “There’s a lot of evidence that what is termed cognitive behavioral therapy can be very useful. “By cognitive behavioral, I mean gently challenging the ideas that a person has about sleep and their sleep disturbance.” For example, there are people who believe that they can get hurt some how if they fall asleep. The counselor would work with the person’s thought process, which is affecting their behavior.
Another popular source of treatment is medication. Medical professional often times prescribe an anti-depressant drug that is suppose to reduce the feelings of anxiousness. There is also another form of drug called benzodiazepine, which is not an anti-depressant and is also said to help reduce the feelings of anxiety during sleep.
Other things that can help reduce anxiety are avoiding drinks that contain caffeine and physical activities so close to bedtime. Instead a relaxing regime would be in order. For example, drink a cup of warm milk, taking a bath, listening to some relaxing music and reading a book. A relax routine before bedtime will help prepare the body for the deep relaxing state of sleep.
Vikram Tarugu, MD, “A Hard Day’s Night: Coping with Sleep and Anxiety” Sacramento Bee URL: (http://sacbee.healthology.com/mental-health/stress/article1008.htm)