The Easiest Way to Beat Anxiety Related Insomnia

July 31, 2018

Help for Anxiety Related Insomnia.

 

Anxiety and insomnia are both debilitating to live with on their own; however, when they join together they can ruin your health, looks, relationships and career.  Anyone that has laid in bed, unable to sleep, with a churning stomach that repeatedly sends a wave of nausea through them knows that it is indeed an awful situation.  To make you feel worse, you may start worrying about not being able to do your job the next day or look after your children. This makes the anxiety worsen and you lie there agitated and feeling ill. As someone who has suffered from anxiety related insomnia and spent a lot of time researching how you can get yourself back to sleep, I understand what you actually go through.  In this article, I will explain why you feel the way that you do and how you can learn to control it.  In this article, you will learn:

  • Why it’s important to be able to recognize anxiety and label it.

  • Why anxiety makes you feel awful.

  • Why you need to change your physical position.

  • Three major actions that get rid of anxiety and why you shouldn’t use the wrong ones.

  • Physical anxiety exercises that aren’t hard work.

  • Mental anxiety exercises to get you back to sleep.

  • Why stimulants will sabotage your efforts.

  • Why you need to think carefully about your sleeping area.

Why anxiety makes you feel awful when you are in bed.

There are two ways that anxiety can affect you when you are in bed. The first way is if you can’t get to sleep when you go to bed. The second way, and I personally feel that this is the worst of the two is when you are asleep and you get that awful feeling of dread in your stomach and it is so bad that it wakes you up.  The solutions that I offer will work in both situations.  First of all, I want to discuss why anxiety makes you feel awful and how it helps to recognize it and label it.

 

Before we talk a little more about why we suffer from anxiety and how it makes you feel so dreadful, let’s just consider the usefulness of recognizing and labelling it. Imagine you wake up in the middle of the night with your stomach churning, you feel nauseous, your mouth is dry, you are sweating and you feel dizzy. If you are not au fait with anxiety and how it works, you may think that you are ill and this could make you more anxious so your symptoms get worse. However, if you can identify that it is anxiety, even though it is not pleasant to feel like this, once you understand that you are not going to drop down dead, you can give it the enthusiastic finger and say “Oh it’s you again anxiety, I wish you’d get lost.” Simply recognizing it and giving it a right royal mouthful is helpful. Also, when you understand what is causing your discomfort, you no longer feel powerless because you know that you can take steps to eradicate the problem of anxiety related insomnia.

Okay, so let’s explore why we suffer from anxiety and find out what actually happens to us.  I will keep this as simple as possible because when you are suffering from anxiety one of the symptoms is lack of concentration and I don’t feel that I would be being helpful if I wrote a full scientific explanation.

 

We have a part of our brain that was there before we evolved as humans or even mammals, yes, it’s the reptilian part of us. It is in charge of everyday tasks that are needed to keep us alive. These are jobs that we need to do without thinking such as breathing. It also acts as an alarm system. It’s wonderful because it gives us an early warning system that something is wrong. However, it can be rather over excitable and has certainly not adapted to today’s lifestyle. It is called the hypothalamus.

 

The hypothalamus would be amazing if a big bear decided to rush you. It would set your system off so that you could run faster than normal and not feel much pain if you fell and had to get up again to scoot away. It is all set to make your body run or fight like your life depended on it. The problem is that we don’t really face a lot of big bears today unless you are a park ranger in Canada.  This is where the hypothalamus gets its knickers in a twist. For instance, if your boss is making you feel like a maggot that farts because you have messed up on a large sale, your helpful hypothalamus will set the blood pumping around your heart and get your body ready to punch his lights out. This is where the trouble starts. You have to keep quiet and apologize. Can you imagine all that fight or flight energy stored up in your system?  It doesn’t get burned off so it leaves you feeling anxious.

 

The next time you lose a sale, you may find yourself lying in bed at night unable to sleep with your system full of cortisol and adrenaline ready for the next telling off.  Basically, your body is preparing for the attack but by getting you ready to run like the clappers or to fight like Ali. All you feel are the stomach churning effects of chemicals swirling around your system that are supposed to be helping you but instead they make you feel like you’ve been put in a washing machine on boil wash.

 

Now you understand what is happening, it will make it all the easier to deal with it because you realise that it is not going to kill you and also that you can learn how to control it.

Why you need to change your physical position.

If you are lying in bed, unable to sleep because your stomach is churning and your mind is telling you dreadful things are going to happen, you may want to curl up in a ball thinking this will make you feel safe. However, it could actually make you feel worse because it gives the impression that you are under attack and are trying to protect your body. This means that you need to send signals to your nervous system that you are safe. Spread your arms and legs wide apart. This instantly implies that you are not under any form of attack at the present moment. It won’t make all the bad feelings go away immediately but it is the first step on the road to making this happen.

Three major actions that get rid of anxiety and why you shouldn’t use the wrong ones.

  • Eating. If we return to the early human, we need to understand that when we eat a big meal the body goes into a digestive state and this will actually alleviate the anxiety. The problem here however, is twofold. Firstly, if you got into the habit of stuffing your face every time you felt anxious, you would soon get a weight problem and this would not be good for your health or your self-esteem. Also, eating means digestion and digestion prevents the best sleep. Basically, eating fights anxiety but it is not really your most useful tool in this fight, especially at night time.

  • Sex. Being in a sexual state of high arousal also fights anxiety. However, although this might seem a perfectly satisfying solution to the agitated state; it can take the shine off sexual relations or even masturbation if you are doing it purely to rid yourself of anxiety. Also, the other methods that I offer can be done discreetly anywhere so they will stand you in good stead during the day also. Going for a quick grapple during a meeting with work colleagues is not really an option for most people, I don’t suppose. Maybe, I’m wrong. Who knows?

  • Relaxation. This leaves the third option which is teaching yourself to get into a state of relaxation.  I know through my own personal experience and the experience of others suffering from anxiety that when you have that feeling of dread in your stomach, you don’t actually want to engage in these steps. I understand that but they work. They truly do so it is worth giving them a try, a proper try. Incidentally, I know that if you give it a half-hearted go, which the anxiety may lead you to do, you feel that you can then say that it doesn’t work. This is not going to help you. You have to seriously engage with it and then you will feel better. 

Physical anxiety exercises that aren’t hard work.

 

This section is made up of two physical steps. The first is a very simple but effective exercise routine that you can do while lying in bed and it won’t wake your partner up if you have one. Once you have gotten yourself into a more relaxed zone then you can build on this with deep breathing exercises. I suggest the steps in this order because when you are feeling full of anxiety in the middle of the night, initially deep breathing can seem too difficult but the other exercises start off so simply that even though you are feeling bad you can take that first step.

Muscle Clenching.

  • Clench your fists tightly together and count to five and then release your hands from the clench. Do this five times – clench – count to five – release.

  • Clench your lips together tightly so that you can feel the pressure on your jawline. Hold for a count of five and then release. Do this five times.

  • Clench your buttocks together to the count of five and release. Do this five times.

  • Point your toes and clench your thighs together to the count of five. Do this five times and release.

  • Clench your fists, lips, buttocks and thighs together to the count of five and release. Do this five times.

There are many other parts of the body that can be brought into this routine, however, experience has taught me that anyone suffering from anxiety may be overwhelmed by having too much to do and may skim over the exercises without trying them out. By keeping it simple, you can hopefully give it a go. If you look at it and find yourself skimming over it and not doing it, start over by simply doing the clench fists, that’s all I ask of you. Please give this a try, it will help you.

 

By the time you had done this clenching and releasing, you should be feeling less anxious and will ready to go to the next stage.

 

Deep breathing.

 

Before I practised changing my physical position and muscle clenching, I would try to deep breath when I suffered from anxiety in the middle of the night. It is a wonderful help but when I felt particularly agitated, I found it difficult to instantly go into deep breathing.  However, if you try after the muscle clenching, it is much easier to do.

  • Take a deep breath in through your nose right from the bottom of your stomach and swoosh it up through your body.

  • Hold it for a count of five.

  • Slowly let it out through your mouth and let yourself feel like a balloon deflating.

  • Do this five times.

 

 

Mental anxiety exercises to send you back to sleep.

It is often suggested to folks suffering from anxiety related insomnia that they should chant. This is very helpful; however, in the first stages of the anxiety related insomnia, words do not help us as we need to get rid of the dreadful physical feelings first.  Once you have worked through the physical exercises then the constant words are very therapeutic and will help you to get to sleep.

  • Be aware before you start chanting that rogue thoughts will try to sabotage you. When an unwelcome thought appears, notice it and then return to your chanting keywords.

  • Choose words that appeal to you. I use: I am safe; I am warm; I am sleeping; I deserve to relax; tranquil.

  • Find your own words or use mine and chant them over and over. In the first instance, you may find this difficult because your brain will work against you and bring in thoughts of what it wants you to worry about. You have to be firm with your brain and tell it that now is the time for relaxing.

  • If you manage to continue chanting you will actually fall back to sleep. It honestly does work.

Why stimulants will sabotage your efforts.

If you have anxiety related insomnia, you may get advice that suggests having an alcoholic night cap may help you. I was appalled when a friend of mine was told to have a glass of brandy before bedtime by her dentist.  Alcohol may help you to relax for a short time but then it makes the anxiety worse when it has worn off because of what it does to your body chemically. It also prevents you from getting good quality sleep. I’m not suggesting that you avoid alcohol forever. However, if you are suffering from anxiety related insomnia, it you should keep it to a minimum and maybe only have a little at weekends.

 

Caffeine is useful during the early parts of the day in small quantities but after lunchtime, it can actually prevent you from getting off to sleep. Therefore, you should avoid it later in the day and that includes coffee, tea, chocolate and cola.

Why you need to think carefully about your sleeping area.

Often, when I go on social media, I notice folks that have been up in the middle of the night saying that they can’t sleep. If you suffer from anxiety related insomnia, you may feel so agitated that you feel that distraction will make you feel better. Checking your phone may help you initially if you get a message on FB from a friend that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy but you could have enjoyed that in the morning when you have had a refreshing sleep. Be strong and remove all electronic devices from your bedroom. You will be amazed at the difference this makes to your quality of sleep.  Any small lights in the room from your laptop or phone will be picked up by your body and falsely interpreted that it is not time to sleep. Remember, although we are 21st century dudes, there are parts of our system that was created for hunting and living in caves and there is a part of our brain that is reptilian. This means that we have to adjust our lives and habits accordingly to get the best possible sleep that we can.

Take control now.

Anxiety related insomnia is a serious subject and anyone who has ever suffered from it knows that it can be debilitating and actually take over your life. It does not have to be this way however, by following the steps in this article, you can begin to take control of your life by simply understanding your body and mind.  Do give these ideas a try; they work for me and I have tried them on other people who also have had amazing results.

 

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