Bedtime / Nighttime Anxiety - Social Anxiety Forum
 
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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-25-2020, 02:27 PM Thread Starter
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Bedtime / Nighttime Anxiety


So I have terrible bedtime anxiety. Like my bed is a trigger for my anxiety for some reason. In addition to SA I have GAD and that somehow gets triggered when going to bed. I think it's because when its dark and quiet and there are no distractions like music, TV, books, etc. all these thoughts start to bombard me and they're usually negative thoughts. Fears, anxieties, worries, what ifs. That sort of thing. And so now I've habitualized bedtime anxiety. So I automatically get anxious when its time to sleep. Which is of course ruining my life because now I can't sleep so I'm always exhausted. This is on top of the regular insomnia I have anyway. I average like 4-5 hours a night of sleep which is definitely not enough.

So not sure what to do about this. I've tried meditation, tried reading, tried music, tried moving my bed around to trick myself into thinking something is different and therefore breaking the habit loop. I tried using mantras but I'm too ADD for that. Nothing seems to work. So has anyone experienced this and if so how did/do you cope with it?

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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-26-2020, 05:15 AM
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I always listen to radio drama/comedy (something light) while in bed which helps fill my mind with non-bad thoughts and essentially dream implants to distract me until I'm ready to drift off for real. If I'm not relaxed by the end of the first show I'll listen to another. And then, on the nights when my bed just feels too much like a cold lonely place I don't want to venture to, I sleep on my couch. At times I've ended up couch-sleeping for months straight, although at the moment I'm usually sleeping in my bed and I'm not sure why that varies the way it does.

And also, if it's not going well after an hour I'll just get up until I get sleepy again.

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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-26-2020, 12:31 PM
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I have GAD as well and I get this too, especially during more stressful times. Though a lot of it is due to frequent bad dreams; I hate falling asleep because I don't want to be "running around" in my head all night. I distract myself with daydreams and fantasies. Instead of thinking of all the stuff that gives me anxiety, as I'm prone to do, I typically have a detailed scenario for a storyline or fantasy running in my head -- the more detailed the better because then it pushes out all the negative thoughts. And I just keep going over it, refining it and adding more detail, until I fall asleep.

It doesn't always work. Right before an exam or something the anxiety will typically overcome the fantasy. In that case ideally I take a sleeping pill because otherwise I'll be up worrying half the night. And during the phases when I get bad dreams every night, it sometimes doesn't work either, and I just end up worrying for a few hours until sleep overtakes my brain and I keep worrying via bad dreams. So I wish I had something more reliable for you, but I don't.

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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-26-2020, 02:31 PM
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I have something similar, which why I always leave the TV on when I go to sleep. With the TV on, I can listen to the people talking on TV and won't consciously notice myself falling asleep. Sometimes I'll notice myself drift off and I will literally jump or even kick in my bed. For some reason simply experiencing the transition from the wakeful state to sleeping REALLY freaks me out. It's like feeling control being taken away from me. Sort of like an ego-death because in my sleep I'm no longer me, time perception gets distorted and my consciousness isn't in the here and now anymore.
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-26-2020, 05:00 PM
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I can relate.

I have to listen to an audiobook to sleep (preferably something I've already listened to before so it's not too engaging it keeps me awake, but still engaging enough to keep my mind off thinking about my life and my day and tomorrow and all those things).

I tend to sleep 2-3 am these days, and wakeup really tired.

I feel like I need at least ~ 1 hour of staying in bed doing something that doesn't make me anxious (playing a game, watching YT, watching a movie, ...) before I get to the audiobook phase, then I sleep listening to the stories.

Probably not the best way to cope though, but that's what I do : /

I often panic if my phones battery is dead and I'm too tired to get the charger, because I'm in this weird dichotomy: Do I risk trying to sleep sans distractions? Or do I risk getting up and losing the little tiredness I've gathered?

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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-28-2020, 09:21 PM
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I can relate to this. I have major problems with insomnia, so going to bed feels like gearing up for battle. On top of that, as soon as I try to sleep my brain starts going over every stupid, embarrassing thing I've ever done. If it was five, ten, twenty years ago, it doesn't matter. I remember it. It's in there somewhere and my brain will continue to remind me.

I understand exactly what you mean when you say that turning out the lights opens the door for the anxious thoughts. That's exactly why I never turn the light all the way out. I have a dimming bulb and I turn the brightness down but I never put it completely out because that's when the thoughts get overwhelming.

During the day I try to get a lot of exercise. Sometimes that helps, sometimes it doesn't. I can be totally exhausted in body and still going a million miles an hour in my brain. I also take an amount of sleeping pills that would earn me a scolding from my doctor; I probably need some type of prescription sleep aid, but I hate going to the doctor. I try to put away all screens and read for at least an hour before sleeping, which is helpful in gearing my brain down. But many nights nothing works and I just have to be exhausted the next day.

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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-01-2020, 09:00 AM
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This has been a problem for me for a long time. I have nightmares most nights, so sleeping is never a pleasant experience, and it usually takes me at least an hour to get to sleep. It's unusual for me to sleep for more than 90 minutes at a time, so I'm perpetually exhausted, too. I'm also afraid of the dark, so I never go to sleep at night unless I absolutely have to. I stay up all night with the lights on and then go to sleep when it gets light out. Trying to sleep in the dark is almost impossible for me. If I let my brain do whatever it wants, I basically won't get to sleep, so I daydream about what my life would be like if it were exactly the way I want it to be. Usually takes a bit of work, because anxious thoughts keep taking over, but it's the only way I can get to sleep.

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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-02-2020, 10:52 AM
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I can relate to this on so many levels, I have PTSD, but I also deal with insomnia, sleep paralysis, and night terrors, so I get lots of anxiety when I'm about to go to sleep or drifting off to sleep. I'm not sure what I'm scared of but I'm on high alert sometimes and if I hear one small sound, my body will jerk itself awake and I will listen silently. Eventually, I will get to sleep, but sometimes I have a hard time. Now I listen to meditation music or people who narrate stories online, it always helps me sleep better, I can't sleep in silence, it causes me too much anxiety.

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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-04-2020, 03:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by either/or View Post
So I have terrible bedtime anxiety. Like my bed is a trigger for my anxiety for some reason. In addition to SA I have GAD and that somehow gets triggered when going to bed. I think it's because when its dark and quiet and there are no distractions like music, TV, books, etc. all these thoughts start to bombard me and they're usually negative thoughts. Fears, anxieties, worries, what ifs. That sort of thing. And so now I've habitualized bedtime anxiety. So I automatically get anxious when its time to sleep. Which is of course ruining my life because now I can't sleep so I'm always exhausted. This is on top of the regular insomnia I have anyway. I average like 4-5 hours a night of sleep which is definitely not enough.

So not sure what to do about this. I've tried meditation, tried reading, tried music, tried moving my bed around to trick myself into thinking something is different and therefore breaking the habit loop. I tried using mantras but I'm too ADD for that. Nothing seems to work. So has anyone experienced this and if so how did/do you cope with it?
I'll admit this may not specifically be GAD-specific, but have you thought of going through a period of purposely minimising your sleep over a period of time (e.g. by waking up super-early, refusing to nap etc), until you get tired to the point of just crashing out?

Other than this, the comments by fellow-commentators thus far seem wise, and you may also want to pay attention to your diet.

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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-04-2020, 03:30 PM
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I sometimes have trouble getting to sleep, switching my brain off, once I'm asleep it's usually fine, my sleep pattern gets screwed up easily, cause I'm naturally a night owl anyway.

I found exercise really helped to make me more tired, but I haven't did it since gyms closed in first lockdown, other than that a good sized nightcap, though that can be habit forming.






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post #11 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-04-2020, 10:34 PM
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Try listening to things like a podcast or an audiobook? Where you have to spend more focus and effort to listen to, verses listening to music.

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post #12 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-05-2020, 03:01 AM
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I don't really have anxiety about going to bed - I just have insomnia and then I start worrying about everything. I've been doing it for years. I have the radio on for quite a bit of the night - the BBC, but it can get a bit annoying and repetitive. It depends.
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post #13 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-08-2020, 01:55 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tetragammon View Post
I have GAD as well and I get this too, especially during more stressful times. Though a lot of it is due to frequent bad dreams; I hate falling asleep because I don't want to be "running around" in my head all night. I distract myself with daydreams and fantasies. Instead of thinking of all the stuff that gives me anxiety, as I'm prone to do, I typically have a detailed scenario for a storyline or fantasy running in my head -- the more detailed the better because then it pushes out all the negative thoughts. And I just keep going over it, refining it and adding more detail, until I fall asleep.
I don't usually have bad dreams (or dreams period, that I remember at least) but yea when I'm stressed in general my body and mind are primed to be more anxious at night and thus ensues this ****ty self-fulfilling prophecy where I think I'll be anxious so then of course I expect it then become anxious. When I'm under the most pressure in my life and need the most sleep is when I'll get the least.

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I often panic if my phones battery is dead and I'm too tired to get the charger, because I'm in this weird dichotomy: Do I risk trying to sleep sans distractions? Or do I risk getting up and losing the little tiredness I've gathered?
I do something similar actually. I usually need something to try to distract me from my thoughts before bed like a book or podcast or meditation but sometimes I'm really too tired for it. So if I'm feeling especially exhausted, do I try to take advantage of that and just try sleep without distracting myself first? Or do I wake myself up a bit to try to get my head in a better place which could potentially make me more alert. Kind of a catch 22.

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Originally Posted by CoolLilChickadee View Post
I can relate to this. I have major problems with insomnia, so going to bed feels like gearing up for battle. On top of that, as soon as I try to sleep my brain starts going over every stupid, embarrassing thing I've ever done. If it was five, ten, twenty years ago, it doesn't matter. I remember it. It's in there somewhere and my brain will continue to remind me.

I understand exactly what you mean when you say that turning out the lights opens the door for the anxious thoughts. That's exactly why I never turn the light all the way out. I have a dimming bulb and I turn the brightness down but I never put it completely out because that's when the thoughts get overwhelming.

During the day I try to get a lot of exercise. Sometimes that helps, sometimes it doesn't. I can be totally exhausted in body and still going a million miles an hour in my brain. I also take an amount of sleeping pills that would earn me a scolding from my doctor; I probably need some type of prescription sleep aid, but I hate going to the doctor. I try to put away all screens and read for at least an hour before sleeping, which is helpful in gearing my brain down. But many nights nothing works and I just have to be exhausted the next day.
I hear ya about the bedtime as time for battle thing. My mind anticipates the anxiety I'll have so it reacts with anxiety to prepare me for it. It doesn't get that it's battling itself lol. Maybe I should try a nightlight or something as I think the dark triggers my racing thoughts. But I usually need complete darkness or I start feeling kind of awake. I try to get a lot of exercise too but honestly it doesn't seem to really help. I have like 3 or 4 scripts for sleep meds but try not to take them because I always feel like total **** the next day. Ambien hangovers are the worst.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SunshineSam218 View Post
I can relate to this on so many levels, I have PTSD, but I also deal with insomnia, sleep paralysis, and night terrors, so I get lots of anxiety when I'm about to go to sleep or drifting off to sleep. I'm not sure what I'm scared of but I'm on high alert sometimes and if I hear one small sound, my body will jerk itself awake and I will listen silently. Eventually, I will get to sleep, but sometimes I have a hard time. Now I listen to meditation music or people who narrate stories online, it always helps me sleep better, I can't sleep in silence, it causes me too much anxiety.
I sometimes have sleep paralysis and night terrors though rarely. But its really weird when I do, I'll be stuck in a half awake half asleep state and its like I'm dreaming but my eyes are open and I know I'm sort of awake but I can't move and I am half stuck in a dream. It's so freaky. And some nights I will wake up in the middle of the night completely terrified and thinking someone is in my bedroom trying to kill me. Sometimes I am literally scared stiff in my bed and can't move. Thank god neither happens too often.

Quote:
Originally Posted by macky View Post
I'll admit this may not specifically be GAD-specific, but have you thought of going through a period of purposely minimising your sleep over a period of time (e.g. by waking up super-early, refusing to nap etc), until you get tired to the point of just crashing out?

Other than this, the comments by fellow-commentators thus far seem wise, and you may also want to pay attention to your diet.
I've tried this and it does work to a degree but after a while it stops working. Like I will stay awake until like 2 AM or later until I'm completely exhausted and then go to bed and I will fall asleep. And I'll do that for a couple days and slowly inch my way back earlier and earlier. But eventually I'll reach a tipping point where the anxiety is more intense than the exhaustion and I'll end up wide awake all night. I never seem to be able to really establishing a normal pattern this way.

Quote:
Originally Posted by blue2 View Post
I sometimes have trouble getting to sleep, switching my brain off, once I'm asleep it's usually fine, my sleep pattern gets screwed up easily, cause I'm naturally a night owl anyway.

I found exercise really helped to make me more tired, but I haven't did it since gyms closed in first lockdown, other than that a good sized nightcap, though that can be habit forming.
The nightcap can help but alcohol is usually kind of activating for me and when I have a couple of beers or shots it usually just makes me want to listen to music or go for a walk or something. Maybe instead of a couple shots I need like 9 lol. Then I'll just pass the F out.

Quote:
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Try listening to things like a podcast or an audiobook? Where you have to spend more focus and effort to listen to, verses listening to music.
I've tried podcasts and sleep stories etc but they don't seem to work though sometimes they do help to distract me from my thoughts. Part of the problem is the bed itself. My body has associated the bed with anxiety. So now its a trigger. Maybe I need to try sleeping on the floor lol. Seriously though maybe one of those Japanese futons would be helpful.

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post #14 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-09-2020, 05:54 AM
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I've tried this and it does work to a degree but after a while it stops working. Like I will stay awake until like 2 AM or later until I'm completely exhausted and then go to bed and I will fall asleep. And I'll do that for a couple days and slowly inch my way back earlier and earlier. But eventually I'll reach a tipping point where the anxiety is more intense than the exhaustion and I'll end up wide awake all night. I never seem to be able to really establishing a normal pattern this way.
There's quite a few variables and ambiguous assumptions within the above, which could greatly influence how effective "cutting down sleep" is. Also, if I was you my focus would definitely have been on getting out of bed early rather than going to bed late, and this is just the tip of the iceberg. But feel free to ask if you want me to go on further.

You may however still want to share how you've adapted your food and drink diet towards countering your sleeping issue, and how long you've been committing to this. Same would go for your exercise pattern, and also your general pre-bedtime evening routine.

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post #15 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-09-2020, 06:13 PM Thread Starter
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There's quite a few variables and ambiguous assumptions within the above, which could greatly influence how effective "cutting down sleep" is. Also, if I was you my focus would definitely have been on getting out of bed early rather than going to bed late, and this is just the tip of the iceberg. But feel free to ask if you want me to go on further.

You may however still want to share how you've adapted your food and drink diet towards countering your sleeping issue, and how long you've been committing to this. Same would go for your exercise pattern, and also your general pre-bedtime evening routine.
I pretty much always get up between 7 and 8 AM, even on weekends. I can't get up too early during the week though or else I'll be brain dead for work. I need some rest to be able to function.

Generally I have a healthy diet, plenty of fish and veggies. I exercise almost every day in the morning, and hike / run / snowshoe etc. when I can on the weekends. I usually don't drink before bed and if I do it's normally like 1 beer with dinner. I usually maintain pretty good sleep hygiene too. So I live a basically healthy and routine lifestyle, for the most part.

The problem though isn't really poor habits or an unhealthy lifestyle. It's that my brain seems to learn to associate anxiety with any semi-stressful situation way to easily. At some point in my past I must have stressed over sleep and now there is a link between bedtime and my bed and anxiety.

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post #16 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-11-2020, 01:27 PM
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I pretty much always get up between 7 and 8 AM, even on weekends. I can't get up too early during the week though or else I'll be brain dead for work. I need some rest to be able to function.

Generally I have a healthy diet, plenty of fish and veggies. I exercise almost every day in the morning, and hike / run / snowshoe etc. when I can on the weekends. I usually don't drink before bed and if I do it's normally like 1 beer with dinner. I usually maintain pretty good sleep hygiene too. So I live a basically healthy and routine lifestyle, for the most part.

The problem though isn't really poor habits or an unhealthy lifestyle. It's that my brain seems to learn to associate anxiety with any semi-stressful situation way to easily. At some point in my past I must have stressed over sleep and now there is a link between bedtime and my bed and anxiety.
Oh agreed - to be honest, it didn't really cross my mind that your anxiety issues being a by-product of an unhealthy lifestyle. This was indeed why the question I raised earlier was very specific to how it directly tackles your sleeping issue (I'm guessing you've likely cut out caffeine for example). Maintaining a good lifestyle is very commendable, but I personally wasn't sure it would incidentally resolve sleep issues resulting from bedroom anxiety.

Like most cases when trying to overcome a deep-rooted issue, I'd imagine it would have involved dedicating one's self to a very specified plan over a defined time period, and that it would have to involve having to go through a temporary imbalance.

Anyways, it's certainly piqued my interest, wanting to help people in seeing how such issues can possibly be overcome. With that said, I understand the thread's intention of seeking coping advice from forum members who've also experienced bedroom-induced GAD - and so I'm fine to respect this.

Feel free to let me know if you ever want to "poke my brains" - you might find some use for it ! But otherwise - I wish you the best in overcoming this issue.

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post #17 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-11-2020, 01:41 PM
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Breathe techniques whilst closing your eyes and playing ocean sounds usually does the trick for me give it ago?
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