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Anxiety and Sleep Disorders: The Facts

Posted May 02 2008 12:08pm
Lately, I've been having a lot of trouble sleeping. Last night, I tossed and turned from 3am - 6am, my mind racing about work, my business, my family, the future, and a host of other things. Because it is prevalent in my life currently (and in the lives of many other women), I thought that I would address anxiety and sleep disorders. Are they related? What are the facts? And what can you do to reduce anxiety and get a better night's sleep?
First, what is anxiety? Anxiety disorders include many illnesses that lead to an unusual and persistent amount of worry, fear and anxiety. Specifically, anxiety disorders include: generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and phobias. Anxiety is real and a serious illness that is treatable.

What are sleep disorders? Sleep disorders are characterized by abnormal sleep patterns that result in impairment of functioning (mental, emotional and/or physical).

An anxiety disorder can cause a sleep disorder and vice versa. People who have an anxiety disorder often have trouble sleeping. Sleep deprivation on the other hand, stimulates that area of the brain most associated with anxiety and depression.

If you have an anxiety or sleep disorder, what should you do? First off, consult your physician. Together, you will need to determine which is the primary illness. You may be having trouble sleeping, however the underlying issue could be an anxiety disorder. The reverse could also be true.

Treatment options for anxiety disorders involve cognitive-behavior therapy, relaxation techniques and medication, or some combination of the above. As for sleep disorders, treatment entails cognitive-behavior therapy in conjunction with sleep medication.

For the occasional sleepless night or bout of anxiety, include the following:
  1. Meditation
  2. Exercise
  3. Practicing yoga
  4. Playing soft music
  5. Not watching the clock
  6. Prioritizing daily tasks
  7. Establishing a regular bedtime routine
  8. Keeping your bedroom dark, quiet and cool
  9. Using your bedroom for sleeping only
  10. Taking an occasional anxiety/stress or sleep remedy
If the problem persists, see your doctor.

Well, I am going to take some of the advice above, starting with no clock watching and more exercise!

Have a great weekend and get a good night's rest.

Until next week,

Sandy Huard, President, Women's Health Supply International
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