If you struggle with anxiety, there’s a good chance you also struggle with sleep. It’s a vicious cycle that can be both frustrating and overwhelming. Some people even experience stronger anxiety symptoms at night, when they’re alone with their thoughts. 

Unfortunately, the more anxious you are, the harder it can be to get a good night’s sleep. The less sleep you get, the easier it is for your symptoms to flare. 

So, it should come as no surprise that improving your sleep can help to reduce anxiety symptoms. But how can you do that when those symptoms are making it difficult to get the rest your mind and body deserve? 

Let’s dig deeper into how improving your sleep can help with anxiety symptoms, and tips you can use to get the sleep you need. 

Why a Lack of Sleep Fuels Anxiety

Woman Sleeping If you’re not getting enough sleep at night, you might notice that your anxiety symptoms are worse the next day. Part of that is likely due to the fact that lying in bed at night gives you the opportunity to think about anything and everything. It’s the perfect opportunity for the anxious mind to run rampant. 

Additionally, without enough sleep, your prefrontal cortex weakens. This is the part of your brain responsible for everything from decision-making to emotional regulation. It’s working overtime when you don’t get enough sleep, so it’s not able to keep your thoughts and emotions in check as well as it should. That can make your emotions seem more intense and overwhelming. When you feel like you can’t control those emotions, it’s easy to let anxiety take over. 

How Sleep Helps

When you improve your sleep, your prefrontal cortex gets the chance to reduce your emotional activity significantly. You’ll feel more in control when you wake up, and your emotions might not seem so intense or extreme. 

Studies have shown that getting enough deep sleep at night can significantly reduce stress levels. The less stressed you are, the less likely it is for anxiety to take over. Even if anxious thoughts come to mind, you’ll be able to fight back with reason and reality. 

How to Improve Your Sleep

Again, when you’re dealing with anxiety, it can be difficult to get a good night’s sleep. But, it’s not impossible! Try putting a few tips into practice to improve your sleep health and you’re likely to notice your anxiety symptoms weaken in the process. 

First, practice better sleep hygiene. That includes everything from going to bed around the same time each night to avoiding electronics for at least an hour before bed. Consider establishing a nighttime routine designed to help your mind and body relax and de-stress before getting into bed. 

It can also be helpful to have a bedside journal. If you don’t have a problem falling asleep but seem to wake up frequently throughout the night with anxious thoughts, a journal can help. You can quickly jot down what you’re thinking and feeling before trying to fall asleep again. Often, simply getting those anxious thoughts out—even on paper—can keep them from taking over your mind at night. 

Finally, don’t hesitate to reach out to a mental health professional. Trying to get more sleep is important. But, if anxiety is what’s keeping you awake, fighting back against it is one of the best things you can do. 

Therapy can help you better understand where your anxiety is coming from so you can combat it from the ground up. You’ll also learn healthy and effective strategies to manage your symptoms. 

If you’re tired—literally and figuratively—of not getting enough sleep due to anxiety, don’t hesitate to contact me to set up an appointment for anxiety counseling.