Overcoming anxiety caused insomnia

Q:  I have severe insomnia that my doctor says is caused by anxiety, yet I have no worries or depression.  I am so sick and tired of the anxiety label because it doesn’t help me.   I’ve tried prescription drugs, meditation, acupuncture, supplements, all of that.  So why do I still have bad nights with literally no sleep after all this treatment?

A:  You mention having “no worries”, but that is an unrealistic way of understanding the human condition.  Not just for you, but for us all.  And this may suggest a potential solution for you.

The reality is some level of anxiety and stress in our daily lives is normal, necessary, integral, and even healthy to normal functioning.  We all have stress and anxiety to some degree.

We all have for instance many daily needs that could be considered stressful or anxiety-producing, such as a need to eat, and a need to earn a living.  As humans we normally feel a need to give and receive love, a need to feel a sense of purpose in life, and so on.  A life without any of these needs or with no stress or anxiety wouldn’t be very much of a life at all.

Healthy levels of stress and anxiety challenge us to perform better, to expand and grow as a person, and to reach happiness and fulfillment in life.

So we all have some level of stress and anxiety to some degree.  To think otherwise — to think you are somehow devoid of stress or anxiety — is a signal that you perhaps have a blind spot and just aren’t aware of it.  In fact, if you’re having sleeping problems there’s a very good chance of it!

The problems come when levels of otherwise normal stress and anxiety become excessive or unremitting for extended periods of time, and can even be debilitating.  That’s when it crosses over from being normal stress and anxiety to possibly a disorder.  Excessive stress and/or anxiety can and will produce insomnia, and likely is one of the most common sources of it.  This is what your doctor seems to be telling you.

We suggest working with your doctor to try to understand specifically what s/he is diagnosing as your true underlying causes for insomnia.  If it is anxiety, be confident you can attack that at its roots — meaning the negative underlying thought patterns that produce anxiety — and restructure those thoughts to help manage it effectively.

This method is known as cognitive restructuring.  It enables you to manage the negative thoughts that may be largely fueling and perpetuating your insomnia.  By getting a better handle on anxiety, your sleep stands to improve.

Of course there are many complementary methods you can use to help yourself permanently sleep better.  These include improved sleep hygiene and establishing a consistent sleep schedule, among others.

If you haven’t tried using CBT methods specifically designed for insomnia, you might also ask your doctor about them.  If you are the self-help type, you will find many on-line resources for more information.

Explore posts in the same categories: Health, Insomnia

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2 Comments on “Overcoming anxiety caused insomnia”

  1. […] keeping a consistent sleep schedule, minimizing negative sleep thoughts, controlling stress, and managing anxiety are all part of a comprehensive strategy to counter insomnia and improve […]

  2. […] keeping a consistent sleep schedule, minimizing negative sleep thoughts, controlling stress, and managing anxiety are all part of a comprehensive strategy to counter insomnia and improve […]

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