Sleep disturbance is another form of mental health challenge that people suffer from. The good news is that it can be treated with some effective tips and medications. Here’s how you can overcome sleep anxiety.
Anxiety occurs when your mind travels into the future and finds an imagined scenario threatening. Chronic anxiety isn’t just limited to your mind, symptoms begin to appear in your body as well. One of the many forms of anxiety is sleep anxiety. Have you ever dreaded the idea of going to sleep at night? You may suffer from sleep disturbances. Also, if this term is new to you, we’ve covered it all here, along with some management techniques to help those who suffer from the problem.
Health Shots caught up with Dr Pavana S, Consultant Psychiatrist in Bangalore to understand how to deal with sleep disorders. “Sleep anxiety, another term for somniphobia or sleep anxiety, is a condition where a person experiences strong feelings of fear, stress or anxiety around the act of going to sleep,” she says.
What is sleep disturbance?
In the field of mental health, sleep disturbances can affect your well-being, affecting both the quality of your rest and your overall mental health. Individuals with sleep disorders often have difficulty maintaining sleep due to constant worries and concerns. One can often feel a sense of fear during sleep, constant anxiety and overthinking, as well as difficulty relaxing, which can affect daily activities. These feelings can be associated with night terrors, and these problems can manifest as chronic insomnia, leading to other underlying mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety.
How to deal with sleep disturbance?
Let’s explore effective management techniques for those struggling with sleep disturbances.
1. Establish a consistent sleep routine
Encourage individuals to establish a regular sleep schedule. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, even on weekends, helps regulate the body’s internal clock, Dr. Pavana S tells Health Shots.
2. Create a relaxing bedtime ritual
You should try to incorporate relaxing activities before bed, such as reading a book, taking a warm bath, or doing gentle stretching exercises. These rituals act as a signal to the body that it is time to sleep.
Read also: Do you wake up tired? This bedtime routine will help you fix that
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3. Limit stimulants before bed
“You should avoid using stimulants like caffeine and nicotine near bedtime. They can interfere with the ability to sleep and contribute to increased anxiety,” says the expert.
4. Mindfulness meditation and deep breathing
Try incorporating mindfulness, meditation, and deep breathing exercises into your daily routine to help people distract themselves from anxious thoughts and promote a state of relaxation that promotes sleep.
5. Create a comfortable sleep environment
“Create an environment conducive to sleep: cool, dark and quiet. “Investing in a comfortable mattress and pillows can significantly improve the quality of sleep,” suggests the expert.
6. Limit screen time before bed
Avoid using electronic devices before bed. Blue light from screens can disrupt the production of melatonin, a hormone important for sleep regulation.
7. Regular exercises
“Encourage regular physical activity as it can promote better sleep. However, advise to avoid vigorous exercise close to bedtime,” says the expert.
Regular physical activity can induce feelings of exhaustion, which can promote healthy sleep. Additionally, exercise is also known to help release feel-good hormones in the body, which further help curb stress levels in the body.
A treatment plan to combat sleep disturbance
When sleep disturbances persist, a comprehensive treatment plan may include therapeutic intervention. Cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) has been shown to be effective in addressing the underlying factors contributing to sleep disturbances. This therapeutic approach focuses on changing the thoughts and behaviors that disrupt sleep.
In some cases, medications such as sedative-hypnotics or anti-anxiety medications may be considered. However, medication use should be approached with caution and individuals should be closely monitored for possible side effects and addiction, the expert advises.
In conclusion, the journey to overcoming sleep disturbances involves lifestyle adjustments, behavioral changes, and, if necessary, professional guidance. By tailoring strategies to individual needs, we can guide our patients to restful nights and improve overall well-being.
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