What to do when you worry yourself awake

If you find yourself often waking in the night with worries and anxiety, you're not alone. In fact, studies quoted by Harvard Health Publishing claim that sleep problems affect more than 50 per cent of adults with generalised anxiety disorder.

Generalised Anxiety Disorder, or GAD, is one of the most common mental health complaints in the UK today. If you find yourself frequently plagued by worries and anxieties which simply won't go away, you may be struggling with GAD. However, GAD is not the only source of worry related to night wakings. You could simply be experiencing a period of great stress, either at work or at home.

Why am i waking up with worries?

The first thing you should do if you find yourself frequently waking up worried in the night is to take the time to really explore your worries. Are you concerned about work, or family life? Are you worried about your own health? It's possible you already know what's bothering you, but don't know how to stop worrying about it, or it could be that your worries feel irrational or unfounded. Sometimes, our minds tell us we're worried about one thing when really there's something else that's bothering us.

What Are The Most Common Causes Of Waking Up Anxious?

Waking up anxious is often related to work or family stress, but it could also be caused by other big life events including moving home, changing jobs, or big changes in your relationship. Recent traumatic events could also cause sleep disturbances, as can worries about money. You might also be more likely to wake in the night with anxiety if you suffer from related mental health disorders such as depression or bipolar disorder, or if you have problems with substance abuse.

Why Does Anxiety Interfere With Sleep?

When we are under stress, our bodies release a hormone called cortisol. This hormone is supposed to help us to deal with stress, but it can also have some other unwanted effects, too. One such effect is to wake our bodies up, even if they're not well-rested. This is called the cortisol awakening response (CAR) by scientists, and unfortunately, it explains why it's so hard to get a good night's sleep when we're under pressure.

What Can I Do To Improve My Sleep When I'm Worried?

If your anxiety is long-lasting and it's affecting your everyday life, it's always best to speak to a professional who may be able to provide you with support and coping mechanisms to improve your mental health. Otherwise, there are still a lot of things you can do at home to improve your sleep. Working on sleep hygiene by avoiding screens before bed and investing in blackout curtains can help, as can avoiding alcohol in the evening. You could try practising yoga or meditation to improve your anxiety, and eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly has been proven to improve sleep and lower blood pressure – which can make anxiety worse.