Social anxiety is difficult in the best of situations. If you’re excessively tired because you have trouble falling asleep at night, this certainly isn’t the best of situations. Recurrent insomnia makes the symptoms of social anxiety worse, making decisions harder and increasing the feeling that others are upset with you because you have trouble keeping up. Unfortunately, insomnia is very common in those with several types of anxiety disorders, including social anxiety.
Getting the Rest You Need Can Make Social Anxiety More Manageable
Fortunately, it’s possible to overcome insomnia even when you have social anxiety. There are pharmaceutical, behavioral and other options available to help you get the sleep you need. They’re fairly effective, too; a 2012 study published in Psychiatric Times found that both pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical treatments for insomnia in those with anxiety disorders were effective in nearly two out of every three cases. Here are a few things that may help you catch some Z’s even when your anxiety is determined to keep you awake.
A Matter of Routine
A bedtime routine makes it easier to fall asleep and may also help with your social anxiety. As much as possible, get into the habit of eating around the same time every night and spend the few hours before bed performing the same general activities. Avoid alcohol and caffeine within a few hours of bedtime, partake in relaxing activities such as reading and avoid the TV and other screens for at least an hour before bed. Go through the same hygiene routine before bed every night and try to hit the pillow around the same time. As your body gets used to the routine, falling asleep quickly becomes much more likely.
If your mind doesn’t like to calm down at night, try incorporating calming exercises into your nighttime routine. Guided imagery, meditation and making journal entries can all get things off your mind before you hit the sack. If that doesn’t work, try a few mental exercises such as trying to think of fruits and vegetables that start with specific letters. This can break your previous train of thought, letting relaxation (and sleep) come.
If insomnia is a major problem, consider getting a referral to a sleep specialist for cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I). CBT-I is generally administered over the course of several weeks for a few hours per session and helps you break current bad habits and train your body and mind to get better sleep. If the thought of therapy worries you, self-help books and online resources teaching CBT-I techniques are available as well.
Not everyone who has problems with insomnia suffers from it every night. If you only have occasional bouts of sleeplessness, an over-the-counter option such as melatonin supplements or non-prescription sleep aids may help. Just be careful to use the sleep aids as directed and consult your doctor if they don’t help or if you find yourself taking these sleep aids regularly. If you regularly need to rely on supplements or medication to get to sleep, you need to consult your doctor.
No one wants to take more pills, but sometimes a prescription medication is necessary to break the cycle of insomnia. There are a number of drug options available and your doctor will likely start with a low dosage to avoid giving you more than you absolutely need. If you’re worried about taking medication, just give it a chance; you might be surprised how much of a difference that little nudge can make when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep.
When was the last time that you had a really good night’s sleep?