Have you been having difficulty sleeping at night? Insomnia is a dreadful condition that affects and untold number of individuals, but you don’t have to suffer anymore. To really cure insomnia, it’s important to get to the root of the problem. This article will outline a major cause of insomnia that many people are oblivious of: anxiety.
Do you toss and turn at night, worried about what tomorrow will bring, inventing major catastrophes inside your mind that never come to fruition? This type of worry has disastrous affects on your body, robbing you of the sorely needed sleep you need to function properly in your daily life. More than 40 million people suffer from sleep disorders, and many stem from anxiety.
When you become anxious, the primitive “fight of flight” response kicks in, sending adrenaline surging through your body and making sleep the last activity your body wants to engage in. You feel energized and ready to take on the imaginary threats that are stalking your subconscious.
Unfortunately, sleep is vital to your body, and without it, you will quickly suffer from fatigue and sluggishness, which can actually increase anxiety. This creates a vicious cycle that can be hard to escape from. What came first: the chicken or the egg? Unfortunately, anxiety and lack of sleep tend to feed off of each other, and it’s hard to know how to break the cycle. Along with anxiety, sleeplessness increases your risk of injury, can affect your job or school performance, and can increase your risk of host of health problems, such as high blood pressure and obesity.
However, this is a problem with a solution, as long as you are willing to work hard on it. A great place to start is to focus on your breathing. Many people breathe far too shallowly, which actually increases their chances of having a panic attack. To breathe in a more productive manner, make sure you are breathing from your diaphragm. Begin by taking a deep breath in to the count of five, hold the breath for five, and slowly release it. It can help to place your hand on your diaphragm to ensure that you are drawing breath from the correct place.
Exercise and diet are also a vital component in your arsenal in reducing anxiety. Most people know about the benefits of exercise for their physical health, but the mental health benefits of exercise have not been as well publicized. Try to get at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise five to six times a week. Cardiovascular exercise can include walking, running, swimming and even dancing. This type of exercise is akin to taking a natural drug for the brain, as it releases mood-enhancing endorphins.
Yoga, although not considered to be a cardiovascular form of exercise, is also considered to be an effective treatment for anxiety. Yoga has been shown to increase levels of a chemical called GABA in the brain, which is the same chemical that most anti-anxiety drugs target.
Good nutrition is also vitally important. Try to eliminate caffeine as much as possible from your diet, as it is stimulant that will counteract the relaxation you’re trying to achieve. Make sure to replace refined white grains in your diet with whole grains, and don’t forget to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables!
Finally, cognitive-behavioral therapy can help you to address the distorted thinking patterns that so often lead to anxiety. For further help in getting to sleep at night, make sure to turn off the television and computer for at least a half hour before going to bed, and try to create a calm, peaceful environment in your room.
Breus, Michael J. “Chronic Sleep Deprivation May Harm Health.” <http://www.webmd.com> 3 Jan 2013.