How To Get A Handle On Your Sleep Anxiety

There are many possible reasons why you can't get a good night's sleep. Some issues that lead to a poor night's sleep include feeling stressed, traveling often, or consuming heavy meals late at night (via Mayo Clinic). There are many general ways to improve your sleep at night, such as sticking to a sleep schedule, sleeping in a cozy room, avoiding using electronics before trying to sleep and working out in the daytime, per the CDC. But what if you've tried all these tips and still have problems with sleep, and it's making you worry? You might have sleep anxiety.

"Sleep anxiety is stress or worry relating to your ability to fall asleep or maintain sleep," Dr. Rebecca Robbins, Ph.D., an instructor at Harvard Medical School and sleep expert, told Glamour. So, if you stress about sleep to the point where that anxiety is interfering with your ability to fall or stay asleep, your mental health, life, or mood, you likely have sleep anxiety. As challenging as living with sleep anxiety can be, there are ways to help your sleep get better.

Consider cognitive behavioral therapy

If you've tried all the general suggestions for improving your sleep, and your sleep anxiety still hasn't improved, cognitive behavioral therapy is a helpful next step. According to Cleveland Clinic, cognitive behavioral therapy helps handle anxiety, as this form of therapy helps alter your thought process. There's even a specific version of this psychotherapy for treating insomnia — cognitive behavior therapy for insomnia — which can help improve your sleep anxiety and insomnia in between about one and a half and three months.

Some additional reasons you should consider cognitive behavioral therapy are that it can help you become more optimistic, feel better about yourself, and have a more relaxed mindset (via MyLife Psychologists). If you've never been to therapy before, you shouldn't be nervous; the goal of therapy is to help you. While therapy may have been stigmatized in the past, most people in today's more modern world understand that therapy is nothing to be ashamed of and is crucial for many people to improve their mental health. So, if you're looking for a way to get help with your sleep anxiety, you should give cognitive behavioral therapy a chance because it can only help you.

Talk to a sleep specialist

Another way to get help if you have sleep anxiety is to talk to a sleep specialist. According to Healthline, sleep specialists are trained and skilled in helping patients with sleep disorders, and it's a good idea to discuss a referral with your main doctor if you're interested in going to a sleep specialist. Moreover, a sleep specialist will help you get to the bottom of your sleep anxiety and help you figure out a specific solution to the problem, whether that be therapy, breathing exercises, or medication. After all, we can't think of anyone better to go to for help with this sleep-related problem than someone who has devoted their life to helping people with sleep issues.

If your sleep specialist links your sleep anxiety to a specific anxiety disorder — such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder — the specialist might end up prescribing you an anxiety medication. Some medications for this anxiety disorder include Celexa, Lexapro, or Paxil, per WebMD. One of these medications should help you if your sleep anxiety comes from an anxiety disorder. But of course, you should never seek out any medication without first talking about it with a medical professional.

Ultimately, sleep anxiety is not fun, but if you have sleep anxiety, you're not alone. Many people struggle with problems related to sleep, so don't feel like the only one. And if you seek help, your sleep and mental health will likely improve.