If you have ever dealt with anxiety, then you know that it can be the ultimate caffeine. There is nothing else that can cause your body to not want to sleep than feeling anxious. Unfortunately, unlike a caffeinated beverage, anxiety’s method of keeping you awake is tortuous. It doesn’t just keep you awake or limit the amount that you may feel sleepy, it is a full-on assault on your body and senses. It doesn’t keep you awake by eliminating your sleepiness, it keeps you awake by causing nothing but discomfort. When anxiety has its claws on you, you can’t help but focus on anything but the twisting, curdling feeling in your stomach and the intense grip of fear digging into you.
As is the case with just about everything else with anxiety, you fall into a deep, vicious cycle that causes everything to derail. Your body stops you from sleeping, even if you feel tired, and so you lay awake, continuing to feel anxious. Your mind starts to wander, and eventually, everything becomes a source of fear. Soon enough, you’re analyzing your situation. You wonder what time it is, do you look to see? Would it be worse if you knew? How much sleep will you get tonight? Will you be able to function tomorrow if you don’t get enough sleep? What if you don’t sleep? Is this possible? Will you ever sleep again? Those are a lot of questions in a short amount of time, we know, but if you have ever dealt with anxiety, then you know that it’s how it can go. You get stuck in this downward spiral where everything is uncertain and every possible option is a bad one. You can’t escape it. You can try to focus on something else, but it’s still there, nagging away in the recesses of your mind. It just won’t go away.
Dealing with these moments is frustrating, to say the least. You feel your body reacting a certain way but you can’t stop it. You feel stripped of your control, of your body. The one thing that we are given a right to be in control of by nature, at birth, is taken away. How do you manage that feeling and get some sense of control back?
What Can I Do to Ease My Anxiety Enough to Sleep?
You will fall asleep eventually- it just is not physically possible for your body to stay awake forever. It sounds absurd to have to comfort a person with that reminder, but it happens and it needs to be said. You will sleep and sleep can be the absolute best medicine. Being tired, especially exhausted can be a big trigger for anxiety and if you are in a state like that, you can be highly susceptible to it. By getting sleep, and you will get it, your body can reset and everything can settle back down. It will all die down and you can wake up feeling new, and move on from what you felt the night before.
But let’s focus on the moment; let’s focus on when you are sitting up in bed, body feeling like it’s out of control, and you just want to sleep. But, in the spirit of the sick joke that is anxiety, your body just won’t let you. One of the worst things you can do is sit there in it. We know it’s easy to lay there and think that if you just keep trying, you will fall asleep. But this can often lead to some negative consequences and cause the situation to become worse. For instance, as we mentioned earlier, by lying there and dwelling in it, your thoughts can spiral and cause you to feel worse. Get up, and find something relaxing to do. Even though some may claim to avoid screens and electronics at night, watching television for a bit can be good. Or play a game if those help you unwind. What we find is great is to read. A book, a comic, or anything in between, engage your brain without having to look at a screen. Lose yourself in the world and the story of the book and soon, you may find that your anxiety is negligible or even gone.
We all have to roll with the punches as we tackle our anxiety. There are going to some nights where sleep comes easily, and then other nights where you feel hopeless. It’s going to happen and it’s okay. It isn’t something that other people haven’t dealt with and you don’t need to feel like you are an outlier. Do not put that thought in your head; what you are experiencing is absolutely common and normal. It is a momentary intrusion on your life, but it will pass, and you will find yourself on the other, better, side.
If you, or anyone you know, is struggling with anxiety or mental illness, do not hesitate to contact the team here at True Recovery. Our program, founded in 2014, is built around finding what’s best for you to overcome your addiction. Our facility is located in Newport Beach, California, with our supportive housing located close to our campus in Costa Mesa. Take advantage of the local beaches, nature preserves, and Orange County community while we fight for you. Contact us at (866) 399-6528 and [email protected]