sleep anxiety

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This topic contains 5 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by Martin Reed 2 months, 1 week ago.

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  • #30569

    ✘ Not a client

    My biggest problem, which actually prevents me from sleeping is sleep anxiety. When it comes to going to bed in the night I get anxious and jumpy and my mind starts racing. So when I go to bed this goes on and on a lot of occasions I cannot quiet myself and especially my mind. Even if I start to doze off, I am so nervous that my mind jerks me back to arousal. Probably a lot of you experience similar problems. I know this is a very stupid problem like a phobia, because you know perfectly well that going to bed is no challenge, you go to bed to rest, rather than to fight. But there you are I am trying to convince my mind on that but it does not seem to believe me. I am trying to convince it to rest in the evening rather than get agitated, but on most occasions it does not seem to listen to me!

    If anybody has a similar problem and if you think you have found some kind of solution, please share!


    ✓ Client

    Hi Irina,

    So I actually experienced this a several weeks ago. Actually, for years but I never realized it. I was the type of person who could never do those quick 30 minute power naps that people talked about because I was anxious I’d oversleep. Recently, I learned the term “sleep watching” or “sleep monitoring” from Martin. That’s exactly what you’re describing. I would try to relax in bed and when I’m about to fall asleep, I would jerk awake because I realized I was falling asleep. I enrolled in Martin’s CBTI course which is helping. Another thing that helped which is not recommended but it worked for me was to actually take naps. I don’t mean do it intentionally because that puts pressure on yourself and we know pressure =no sleep. What I did was I would go to bed during the day and just lie there because I was tired and told myself I was just resting because napping is not helping my nighttime sleep. Then, I’d actually fall asleep! I did this for a couple weeks despite Martin’s warning because I was just so tired. But then I had to get serious because my night time sleep was still suffering. I followed his rules religiously for a couple weeks and tried my best to cut off my naps. Eventually, I found it was easy to fall asleep at night because I just pretended I was “resting” like I did during the day. I wouldn’t say I’m 100% cured because I could fall back into another cycle, but I would say I think I’ve learned to relax more and fall asleep easier because now I could take 20-30 minute naps on the couch which I could never do before.


    Martin Reed
    ★ Admin

    Hello Irina and welcome to the forum. Everything you describe is quite typical for people with chronic insomnia. Usually, the best thing to do when you are in bed and feel wide awake and anxious is to get out of bed until you feel relaxed and sleepy again.

    Have you looked into cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) techniques? I think you’ll find them helpful.

    You might find this video helpful, too:

    Why CBT-I is so effective when worry, anxiety, and a racing mind are fueling your chronic insomnia


    ✘ Not a client

    Martin, thank you very much for your answer! Yes I have tried cognitive behavioural therapies, but for me getting out of bed makes things much worse, I am getting more excited rather than getting sleepy. So I have chosen on relaxing in bed rather than getting up. But my mind plays tricks on me, it is probably the subconscious mind, because I am fine if I do not go to sleep and I just lie in bed, but after some time I figure out that I am quite tense. And at this moment it might be difficult to relax for some reason my mind resists it and even if I do relax it pulls back to anxiety. But I hope it is probably a matter of training. I have tried everything -CBT and a number of book courses ( which are actually pretty much the same), but my insomnia comes back. I seem to have cured it for some time and then something triggers it back, usually some troubles or a couple of bad nights. Anyway thanks for your answer! I’ll have a look at the video!



    ✘ Not a client

    Irina, I had the same issue with sleep restriction therapy/CBT. If I don’t fall asleep and get out of bed to go and read on the couch, I find my anxiety increases and my heart starts racing.  Once that happens, I’m done for the night.  I never get sleepy again.


    Martin Reed
    ★ Admin

    It’s quite common for sleep to feel more disrupted in the short-term when you get out of bed during the night. The key to success is sticking to the technique since it will help you “retrain” yourself to associate the bed with relaxation and sleep rather than worry and wakefulness.

    If you are calm, sleepy, and relaxed when awake in bed then it’s OK to stay in bed since conditions are right for sleep. However, if you are alert and anxious, worried or frustrated, then it’s usually a better idea to get out of bed until you feel calm and sleepy again.

    In my opinion, I’d rather get out of bed and do something relaxing and enjoyable than stay in bed, tossing and turning, battling to sleep night after night — especially since getting out of bed is a strategy that will improve sleep over the long-term.

    It’s important to bear in mind that the technique of getting out of bed when unable to sleep isn’t intended to improve sleep on that night. It’s a long-term strategy designed to (once again) make the bed a strong trigger for sleep. In the short-term, getting out of bed might lead to a bit less sleep — but the body will soon learn that the bed is a place for sleep rather than wakefulness and (when combined with an appropriate sleep window) it will learn to sleep during a certain period of time.

    This leads to more consolidated (and better quality) sleep.

    I hope this helps.

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