it’s 2 in the morning and in 5 hours you have to get up to go to work. You’ve been in bed for two hours, and as much as you try you can’t fall asleep. You have tried everything to fall asleep quickly, count sheep, do the 4-7-8 method, etc., but every minute that passes you feel more distressed and more worried. You have less and less time to sleep and think about this keeps you more revealed.
If you think this situation has happened to you, it is possible that you have suffered nocturnal anxiety, a phenomenon associated with insomnia that may appear at specific times or for long periods of time for various reasons. In this article, you can find some tips that will help you overcome this type of anxiety.
When the mind does not disconnect
This unpleasant sensation can appear for different reasons, and surely you have experienced it in your life. Night anxiety invades you when you enter that vicious circle in which you are very clear that you should fall asleep but those negative thoughts and that anxiety only feed this negative situation. You are sleepy, but you cannot relax.
Our mind has a tendency to ruminate, and if we turn it over to an issue we make things worse. Once these reflections take over our attention, worry seriously disrupts our ability to fall asleep.
Causes of nighttime anxiety
Anxiety is a totally normal and adaptive emotion, and people can experience it in our daily lives many times, but night anxiety is not precisely positive. It is usually a consequence of the concerns we may have regarding something that happens to us in our daily lives.
Perhaps it is a warning about something that can go wrong, and in the best case, for example, is a way to let us know that we should leave in search of a job because we are running out of money.
But it can also happen that night anxiety is a consequence of imaginary or anticipated concerns that we have and that we are exaggerating, it can be a symptom of the stress that we are suffering and that prevents us from sleeping, and it can even be a consequence of performing physical training of intensity just before of going to bed, which activates our nervous system and, in turn, prevents us from disconnecting when we are in bed.
Tips to overcome anxiety at night
Without a doubt, suffering from this situation is unpleasant. But … is it possible to overcome it? Below you can find some tips and habits that can make you get out of this complicated situation.
1. Detect the problem
It has already been mentioned in the previous lines that night anxiety can be caused by different reasons. Therefore, it is necessary to detect the source of the problem. Are we training at night? Are we worried about something in our life (for example, the mortgage payment)? Do we have a lot of work in our office and do we take this work home? Are we going through an existential crisis?
These questions can help us know what is really happening to us, and so we can solve it. For example, if we have detected that the problem is that we train at night, it may be better to train in the morning.
2. Seek psychological help
In some cases, we may not be aware of the problem, or when trying to solve it, the symptoms have not improved. Then it is necessary to go to psychological therapy. An expert psychotherapist can help you solve the problems of nocturnal anxiety and insomnia so that you can improve your overall health and restore emotional balance.
Exercising is necessary because it brings many benefits not only physical but also psychological. Studies show that sports practice improves mood because it helps release neurochemicals such as serotonin or endorphins, which make us feel good.
It also helps us reduce stress and anxiety, as it reduces the presence of cortisol in our body. Also, with physical exercise, you will be more tired at home and sleep better.
4. But … don’t train
Now, to prevent the nervous system from being excessively active late at night, it is better to practice sports or physical exercise in the morning or early afternoon. The important thing is to avoid exercising at night.
Likewise, it is necessary to avoid overtraining syndrome, also called staleness, which is different from physical overtraining. This condition occurs when the athlete does not rest enough or trains excessively, which has serious consequences for his mental health: feelings of emotional fatigue, lethargy, loss of vigor, insomnia, depression, etc. It can be difficult to detect.
5. Eat well
Food is also an important factor that determines to a greater or lesser extent our general well-being. Undoubtedly, a healthy life will favor good sleep habits, which can play an important role in preventing insomnia.
But food should be especially careful at night, because heavy metals can cause difficulties in falling asleep and, therefore, night anxiety.
6. Beware of stimulants
While it is true that not everyone is equally affected by some stimulants such as coffee or theobromine, it is always preferable not to take products that contain these substances (especially taurine) after 6 in the afternoon (when you have a normal schedule) because it can make sleep difficult and alter your nervous system.
7. Practice Mindfulness
The practice of Mindfulness or Full Attention seems to have a positive effect in fighting anxiety, stress or insomnia. Mindfulness is a method that works on the ability to be aware, compassion and the ability to be present in the here and now.
Its 8-week program called “Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction Program (MSBR)” seems to significantly improve the well-being of people who have used it. A study from the University of Utah showed that MBSR not only helps reduce stress and control anxiety but can help us sleep better.