How Anxiety Is Ruining My Sleep

Jan 27, 2015 by

How Anxiety Is Ruining My Sleep

7 best sleeping habits for those with anxiety:    www.lovetheeveryday.comI have been having nightmares…. No one warns you that becoming an adult means you have an entirely new set of fears to begin to contemplate. For instance, gone are the days of dreaming of monsters under the bed. Instead, I spent an entire restless night caught up in a battle with my student loan company, who was threatening to repossess my dog as payment for late fees on my massive student loans. I woke up feeling like a grown elephant had been standing on my chest all night. I really thought that nightmares were for kids and that as a capable adult I would have made it past dreams that woke me up in terror. Aren’t we supposed to outgrow nightmares?


No one warns you that becoming an adult means you have an entirely new set of fears Click To Tweet

I’ve determined that on days when I am super tired I am more likely to have bad dreams and thus wake up from said bad dream. This obviously compounds the problem because then I become more and more sleep deprived and more and more likely to continue to have bad dreams.

In researching anxiety and speaking to my doctor about my chronic anxiety attacks I have learned that, unfortunately, both anxiety and depression can also contribute to having occasional or even chronic nightmares.

I know what you’re thinking. So what? Just another symptom of anxiety. What else is new? I agree, it seems like every time I turn around I’m discovering that something else has been impacted by my anxiety disorder. It is the most wild discovery.

Finally understanding that the things that have been bothering me for years, the ways in which I interact with people, my moods, my constant misunderstandings can all be explained by anxiety. It’s almost relieving to know this. To understand that I am not a crazy person, that there is a reason behind all of this, that the way I have been feeling is completely normal…that has been life changing

But the dreams…really they suck.


I’m pretty sure that it’s my brain messing with me. On purpose. Normal people dream. I get that. Normal people. The problem is: I have been trying really hard to keep the past in the past. I have moved on to places and people who bring me joy. But when I sleep, all that joy gets sapped out of me and I find my head traveling to all kinds of doom and gloom from the past. Things that should have come back to bite me years ago (and haven’t) are showing up in my dreams. Things that did come back to bite me (and hard) and showing up in my dreams and biting again.

I could really go for a nice, long nap and a dream about unicorns and daisies. Click To Tweet


So, I’ve been experimenting with various suggestions on how to get a good night’s rest. Some things work, some things don’t. However, I still have some things I’m willing to try, because let me tell you, one more dream about the zombie version of an ex boyfriend coming at me in my sleep and trying to eat my unborn children is going to put me right over the edge.



7 Ways I’m Kicking Anxiety Out of My Dreams:

  1. Keep a sleep and dream journal

I’ve been told to start a journal about my sleeping. I am already worried that jotting down all this stuff about sleeping is going to make my sleeping seem like more of an issue and thus be counter productive, but I’m willing to give it a go. I’m going to start writing down everything I do before bed so I can start to see if a pattern develops over when I have good, restful sleep and when I have terrible, nightmares. If there is a correlation between Oreos and milk before bed and dreaming about my family being abducted by aliens I’m going to learn how to lay off the double stuff. I’m also going to note how much exercise I got, what time I went to sleep and how often I woke up in the night.


  1. Wake up at the same time every day.

I’m going to make every effort to start doing this. Everything I have read about sleeping disorders and their relationship to anxiety is that getting into the habit of getting up at the same time every day will help you to get more restful sleep. So, even on weekends I’m going to start setting my alarm, opening all the blinds and letting in the sunshine. I’m going to spend more time outside in the daylight and be conscious about letting light into my workspaces during the day too. I need to be awake when I’m awake.


  1. I MUST stop using my phone and kindle before bed.

I’ve read it over and over and over that you shouldn’t use back-lit devices before bed time. The light somehow messes with your internal clock and makes it difficult to go to sleep. On that note, I’m going to be more careful with light at night-time anyway. Making the room darker for sleep and slowly turning down the lights as it gets closer to bedtime just seems like a brilliant idea.


  1. Reserve your bed for sleep and sex. (More sex than sleep.)

This seems like a no brainer, but I so often find myself reading, talking on the phone, doing work, and worrying in my bed. If I can make myself use my bed only for romantic reasons or snoozing I think I will be less likely to start to worry as I tuck myself in at night. If I stop making my grocery list while I lay on my bed in the afternoon I think I will be less likely to start making to-do lists in my head when I’m trying to sleep at night.


  1. Start to relax before I try to sleep.

I think the bad dreams come from lots of pent-up worries. I’m going to start a routine at night to relax before I try to sleep. My ideas involve making a cup of nighttime tea, some calming yoga stretches and deep breathing exercises before I climb in bed. I’ve also had people suggest making sure to settle a warm wash cloth over my face for a few moments before bed.


  1. I’m going to trick my brain into making relaxation the goal, not sleep.

I haven’t decided how this is going to work yet, but I know that rest helps me rejuvenate too, so if I tell myself I don’t have to sleep I just have to relax then maybe, ultimately I will also be able to fall asleep.


  1. Atmosphere

Keeping the temperature low in my room always helps me sleep and experts recommend a white noise machine to help with bad dreams because it doesn’t allow your brain to focus on anxious thoughts. I’m going to start incorporating both. Additionally, I’m looking into aroma therapy ideas and putting a flashlight next to my bed so I don’t have to turn lights on in the middle of the night.



I’m hopeful that because I’m being proactive about this, I will be able to kick this to the curb. I don’t know what has been inspiring the bad dreams and the crummy sleeping but I do know I’m ready for some rest.

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