If you have chronic insomnia, it’s quite likely that you also have sleep anxiety. And just what does that mean, exactly?
It means that your insomnia is making you feel anxious. This anxious feeling is making it even harder to fall asleep. So you’re now on an endless loop of…
…not being able to sleep, then
…feeling anxious about not sleeping, then
…staying up even longer, which of course is
…getting you even more uptight and anxious
…and so on and so forth.
In addition to this endless loop of 1) worrying about not sleeping and 2) not sleeping because of worrying so much, there is another, cruelly ironic twist to sleep anxiety.
Every time you begin to feel like you just might drift off to sleep, you become conscious of it – mainly because you want it so much – and a thought pops into your mind, such as “Hey I might actually be falling asleep!” or something very similar. What happens then?
Well, naturally you get wide awake all over again. The thought that you might finally get some sleep triggers even more sleep anxiety because you’re so afraid it won’t happen!
How to Beat Sleep Anxiety
Before you can deal with this very frustrating condition, you must understand two things:
1) You’ve become habituated to falling victim to this vicious cycle. Your own thoughts about sleep — especially about how important sleep is to you and how much you want it and need it — are literally keeping you awake! You will never get rid of your sleep anxiety until you recognize this crucial fact.
2) No matter how powerful these thoughts feel to you, you CAN change them. Far too many insomniacs suffer needlessly because they don’t know or don’t believe that they can change their own thoughts about sleep.
But make no mistake about it, you CAN get rid of sleep anxiety by changing your thoughts and how you approach the problem of your chronic insomnia.
Using a combination of cognitive-behavioral therapy techniques, relaxation therapy techniques and old fashioned patience and persistence, you can get rid of sleep anxiety for good.
What is cognitive behavioral therapy?
This is a process of examining your own thoughts and feelings and deciding whether they are truly accurate and truthful… or if they are exaggerated, misleading, unhelpful or outright false. Once you determine whether your negative thoughts are leading you down the wrong path, you then replace them with thoughts that can help you. This is a method that has proven time and again to be very effective
What is relaxation therapy?
This involves special techniques for relaxing both the mind and the body, and may include slow, deep breaths, visualization, progressive muscular relaxation, and what I call “letting-go” techniques.
To get rid of the sleep anxiety that’s causing insomnia, you must set aside some time to work on it… perhaps 30 minutes a day to start. This period can be broken down into two 15 minute segments. You’ll be surprised how quickly you can change your anxious thoughts and habitual ways of thinking and feeling.
Isn’t it time to break that frustrating vicious cycle that keeps you tossing and turning at night?