Regardless of how old or how tough you think you are, no one is exempt from occasional frightening thoughts when they’re trying to sleep. Whether it’s fear about an upcoming event or task or because you watched a scary movie right before bed, scary thoughts can make it tough to fall asleep.
In most cases with adults, scary thoughts when trying to sleep stem from anxiety or stress. However, these sleep-depriving thoughts can also be related to a recent humiliation you suffered or fear about an upcoming responsibility, such as public speaking. Regardless of what’s causing your worrisome thoughts, they can get your mind racing and cause sleep deprivation.
You’ve come to the right place if you’re tired of unwanted thoughts keeping you awake at night. This article will examine how to deal with scary thoughts and feelings at night so they don’t keep you awake. We’ll also take a closer look at Sophrology and how it can calm your racing mind at night to help you get a good night’s sleep.
Understanding Sleep Anxiety
Sleep anxiety is a sleep disorder where people are too afraid to sleep at night. While it can manifest differently in different people, sleep anxiety typically occurs because you have a history of not being able to fall asleep or stay asleep.
This fear often results in a revolving door of problems where your anxiety keeps you awake at night or causes you to experience nightmares that wake you up. The problem repeats night after night until you can’t remember the last time you had a solid night of sleep!
Common Causes and Triggers of Sleep Anxiety
Many different things can cause or trigger sleep anxiety, including scary thoughts, the fear of nightmares, stress and anxiety. However, no matter what’s causing your sleep anxiety, it results in nighttime restlessness and lots of tossing and turning.
Many experts consider sleep anxiety a unique type of performance anxiety, which is when you doubt your ability to do something. Performance anxiety is often associated with things like public speaking, playing a sport, starting a new job position or even sex. You fear you won’t be able to perform, which triggers fear and stress, inhibiting your ability to do the task.
When it comes to sleep anxiety, the problem gets compounded because your anxiety triggers negative thoughts about every day worries. This happens because you’re in bed, and no distractions are around to block out these thoughts and worries. As a result, you end up lying in bed, wide awake and unable to relax and calm yourself.
Eventually, this will turn into a nightly process where you anticipate not being able to fall asleep, triggering sleep anxiety, and it turns into a full-blown sleep disorder.
How Sleep Disorders Affect Your Mental Health
Unfortunately, sleep disorders don’t just affect your sleep hygiene and quality – they affect every aspect of your life. Insomnia and other sleep problems put you at higher risk of developing heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and other severe conditions.
In addition to physical problems, poor sleep quality also affects mental health. According to the Columbia University Department of Psychology, sleep anxiety and problems increases your risk of feeling depressed and anxious on a clinical level. Worse still, a sleep disorder increases suicidal tendencies, making it a potentially life-threatening problem.
The Impact of Scary Thoughts on Sleep
Scary thoughts are unavoidable. Regardless of how mentally strong you are, scary thoughts get the best of everyone. Unfortunately, these thoughts at night make falling asleep next to impossible.
Instead of closing your eyes and shutting your brain down, frightening thoughts creep into the back of your head and trigger feelings of stress and anxiety. This results in the endless cycle we mentioned above, where your thoughts keep you awake night after night.
Introduction to Sophrology For Sleep
If you’re struggling to find rest and are looking for an alternative method to support any advice from a medical professional, you can try using Sophrology to fall asleep. Sophrology is a self-development method that teaches you how to master your thoughts and fears and not let them affect you at night.
In addition to improved sleep quality, Sophrology can help you manage fear and stress in your daily life to be more relaxed and stress-free. This will improve your physical and mental wellbeing as well as your ability to cope with problems and fears.
Our Sleep Like a Pro 5-day online series is just £12 and you will discover simple techniques to learn how to let go of any stress and tension that will help you sleep quickly and soundly through the night. Sophrology can be introduced to your bedtime routine with just 10-minute practices per day to prepare you for deep sleep and support your overall health.
Sophrology Techniques For Overcoming Sleep Anxiety
The first thing Sophrology teaches you is how to practice body awareness. Body awareness is when you are deeply in tune with your physical body as it relates to your surroundings. By focusing on your body, you can separate from your worrisome thoughts and turn negative feelings into positive ones. Your ability to practice body awareness will improve by practising it for just 10 minutes per day regularly.
Gentle movements, such as the tension and relaxation exercise, are also a great way to overcome feelings of fear and stress. These gentle movements, which you can perform lying in your bed, will help you focus on body awareness and redirect your thoughts toward what you’re doing.
As you perform gentle movements and tension relaxation exercises, you should observe your actions to increase body awareness. You can do this by focusing on your movements and motions rather than your fears and worries. When combined with body awareness, observation allows you to separate yourself from fear and anxiety and become an outside observer and fixer of those feelings.
Breathing exercises are also a great way to release negative thoughts and fears. Deep breathing is effortless and something you can do while lying in bed. The key is to breathe deeply and exhale slowly while releasing physical tension. This will help you connect with pleasant sensations and feelings while releasing negative ones.
Visualisation is another core component of Sophrology. Visualisation allows you to re-focus your mind on positive thoughts and outcomes rather than worrying about negative ones. The key to visualisation is to focus on happy memories or think about something you’re looking forward to. When you do this, you’ll feel a sense of calm and relief rather than stress and anxiety.
Practical Strategies to Overcome Sleep Anxiety
In the early stages of Sophrology, you may need additional strategies to overcome severe sleep anxiety.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can help you cope with and overcome insomnia.
- Good sleep hygiene, which means keeping your sleep environment clean and comfortable, can also encourage a good night’s sleep.
- Prescription medication under healthcare provider supervision can quiet your sympathetic nervous system and help you fall asleep.
- Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule is crucial for consistently getting a good night’s sleep.
Lifestyle Changes to Improve Sleep
In addition to incorporating practical strategies and Sophrology into your daily regime, simple lifestyle changes can also help you experience improved sleep.
- Exercising for 30 to 60 minutes daily will significantly improve your sleep health. Exercise releases endorphins, cortisol and hormones that promote relaxation and reduce stress. Exercise will also make you more physically weary, further improving your ability to fall and stay asleep.
- Poor sleep quality can also be linked to having an unhealthy diet. Sugars, processed foods, fried foods and other unhealthy culinary choices are more likely to keep you awake at night. You should instead opt for a healthy diet of complex carbohydrates, whole grains, fresh fruits and veggies throughout the day, and oatmeal or whole-wheat toast before bed. These foods are easy to digest and release the sleep-promoting hormone serotonin.
- Additionally, while everyone loves a good morning cup of coffee or tea, you should try and avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evening, as it will stimulate your nervous system and keep you up at night. You should also limit alcohol use. Alcohol may help you fall asleep initially, but it reduces sleep quality and length.
- Finally, it’s important to maintain a comfortable sleep environment. Generally, most people prefer a cool, dark environment to a warm, slightly lit one. You should also have blankets, a mattress and a pillow that you find comfortable and that make it easy to fall asleep.
When to Seek Professional Help
If you’ve tried the above methods and they don’t seem to be helping, seeking professional help is essential. Sleep disorders and poor sleep quality affect every aspect of your life, including your mental and physical wellbeing. Therefore, you don’t want to mess with sleep problems, and you should seek help from sleep experts or a healthcare provider. They can prescribe sleep medicine and sleep aids that can quickly improve your sleep.
While sleep medicine and aids are a good way to treat sleep problems initially, you don’t want to rely on them long-term. Instead, it’s recommended to try Sophrology and certain lifestyle changes as your long-term treatments to promote healthy sleep.
It’s important to be patient and consistent when you’re practising Sophrology, as it may take some time to have the desired effect. Start with one or two exercises and incorporate new ones as you master the old ones.