Consider the following story as it relates to this week’s topic.
It seems like every day there’s a new warning or disastrous event happening in the world. I try to limit my time on social media, stay away from the news, and think happy thoughts, but I’m always worried about something. Between COVID-19 continuing to spread, constant protests, political news, and my daily responsibilities, I have trouble thinking about anything else! And it seems to hit me hardest when I go to bed. No matter what I try, I just can’t sleep. I’ve tried reading and watching TV to take my mind off things, but nothing is helping. I can’t seem to clear my mind and forget my worries before bed. How do I cure my restlessness?
How many times have you crawled into bed exhausted and shut your eyes, only to have them pop open after your mind begins to race? Suddenly, all of the day’s problems, your biggest fears, and things to do come rushing into your head. Before you know it, it’s 3:00 AM and you’re no closer to falling asleep. If you’re one of many who struggle with anxiety and restlessness, then our licensed psychologists and therapists want to help you understand what you’re experiencing by finding ways to finally get some much-needed sleep.
How Anxiety Can Cause Restlessness
An article on U.K. health site A. Vogel discusses anxiety and restlessness and how they go hand-in-hand in disrupting our lives. It describes anxiety as the “act of constant worrying or self-guessing,” which, in turn, can cause you to become unable to relax or sit still. This is known as restlessness.
How does restlessness happen?
The article’s author, Marianna Kilburn, goes on to explain that while, yes, restlessness can stem from anxiety, it’s the fact that anxiety naturally triggers our “fight or flight” response that leads to the restless feeling. She explains that, when we experience anxiety, our nervous system can’t distinguish between minor worries and life-or-death situations. As a result, it causes our body to release adrenaline (a response to stress) and cortisol (which heightens alertness and hyper-vigilance). Both are responsible for restlessness. If you’re finding it difficult to relax at the end of the day and fall asleep, you may be experiencing it.
If you’re experiencing restlessness, ask yourself:
- Have I been moody or on edge with others?
- Do I have trouble concentrating on basic tasks?
- Am I often impatient?
- Do I feel mentally and physically exhausted throughout the day?
- Am I sleeping enough?
Working Through It
When restlessness delays or interrupts your sleep, it can also alter your mood and interactions with others. This can affect your work, relationships, and outlook on life in general. This is why it’s incredibly important to get a full night’s rest. In one of our previous blogs, we explained the importance of sleeping well and offered some helpful tips to practice. We encourage you to check it out and learn more about “sleep hygiene.”
You can also try the following:
- Listen to a podcast or some calming music before bed.
- Rather than trying to not focus on your worries, give your brain something else to pay attention to. For example, try to focus your attention on something pleasant like a special memory, a place you enjoy visiting, or upcoming plans you have with friends or family on the weekends.
- Try exercising or meditating in the late afternoon or early evening, but not too close to bedtime. This way, by the time you’re ready to hit the hay, you’ll be tired and sleepy.
- Avoid social media, the news, and anything that emits blue light for about an hour before bed so your brain can release the “it’s nighttime which means time for sleep” signals.
- Understand and work on accepting what you can and can’t control, like what’s happening in your life and what’s going on in the world, respectively.
- Speak to us for some professional insight on your situation.
Let’s Figure it Out Together
We know that dealing with anxiety and restlessness, especially today, can feel like a losing battle. That’s why our Tampa psychologists and therapists are here to listen and help you put a plan in place to take control of your life. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!