What is Sleep Anxiety? Anxiety Heart Racing When Trying To Sleep. Options for the Best Sleep Aid for Adults With Anxiety. Which Magnesium is Best for Sleep and Anxiety? The Effectiveness of Magnesium for Sleep and Anxiety.

Sleep disturbances, especially insomnia, are commonly observed in individuals with anxiety disorders. Symptoms like insomnia or nightmares have been included in the definitions of specific anxiety disorders like generalized anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. Continue to read more about sleep anxiety symptoms and treatment options.

What is Sleep Anxiety?

Anxiety is frequently connected to sleeping problems. Excess fear and worry make it more difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep through the night. Sleep deprivation can worsen anxiety, producing a negative cycle involving anxiety symptoms and insomnia.

Sleep anxiety is also linked to “somniphobia” (fear of falling asleep), “hypnophobia,” or sleep dread. Feeling nervous about going to bed may mean you’re anxious about going to sleep — or just being unable to rest as much as you would like. This extreme sleep anxiety can be intense, leading to panic attacks. Sufferers are unable to sleep or even go near the bed. The thought of sleeping can also induce fear. These acts of avoidance are repetitive. Thus, one can develop OCD in the future. This is so because the recurrent urge to avoid sleep can become a compulsion.

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People Who Can’t Sleep Because of Anxiety

Individuals who experience difficulty sleeping due to anxiety exhibit an altered pattern of neural activity within the brain regions responsible for regulating sleep and emotional responses. The heightened activation of the amygdala, involved in processing emotions, can lead to a hyperarousal state, making it challenging to fall asleep. Also, disruptions in the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin and GABA further contribute to the sleeplessness experienced by those with anxiety.

People at Risk

Who is at High Risk for Sleep Anxiety?

Sleep anxiety can affect people from all walks of life. You may be more likely to develop anxiety at night if you have a sleep disorder such as the following:

  • Insomnia.
  • Narcolepsy.
  • Restless legs syndrome (RLS).
  • Sleep apnea.
  • Sleepwalking.

People with the following mental health disorders may also develop nighttime anxiety:

  • Anxiety disorders.
  • Bipolar disorder.
  • Depression.
  • Drug addictions or alcoholism.
  • Panic disorder.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder.

Sleep Anxiety Medication

Your healthcare provider may recommend medication for anxiety or other mental health disorders. Medication can also help improve the symptoms of sleep-related disorders such as restless legs syndrome or insomnia. However, some medications might increase your anxiety or make sleeping harder when you first start taking them. If you experience these side effects, talk to your healthcare provider. Many over-the-counter sleep aids can also be habit-forming.

FDA-Approved Sleep Anxiety Medication

FDA-Approved Sleep Medication for Anxiety

Here are a few FDA-approved sleep medications that are sometimes prescribed for individuals with anxiety:

  • Eszopiclone (Lunesta): A sedative-hypnotic medication used to treat insomnia, which can be associated with anxiety.
  • Zolpidem (Ambien): Another sedative-hypnotic drug prescribed for short-term treatment of insomnia related to anxiety.
  • Doxepin (Silenor): A tricyclic antidepressant that is FDA-approved for treating insomnia and anxiety.

While these medications are approved for sleep issues, consulting a healthcare professional is crucial before starting any medication regimen, as they can provide personalized advice based on an individual’s specific health situation.

Vitamins for Sleep Anxiety

Best Vitamins for Sleep and Anxiety

While these vitamins can be beneficial, they are not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you’re considering supplements, it’s crucial to consult with a healthcare provider to ensure they’re appropriate for your individual health needs.

  • Vitamin B Complex: B vitamins, such as B6, B9 (folate), and B12, play a role in neurotransmitter production and regulation, impacting sleep quality and anxiety levels.
  • Vitamin D: Adequate vitamin D levels have been linked to improved mood and reduced anxiety. It also plays a role in regulating sleep patterns.
  • Magnesium: This mineral can help relax muscles and calm the nervous system, potentially leading to better sleep and reduced anxiety.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: While not a vitamin, omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil have been associated with decreased anxiety symptoms and improved sleep quality.
  • Vitamin C: Vit. C has antioxidant properties and can help regulate cortisol, a stress hormone impacting sleep and anxiety.
  • Vitamin E: Another antioxidant, vitamin E, might contribute to reducing oxidative stress, which can have a positive impact on both sleep and anxiety.
Sleep Anxiety OTC Medication

Best Sleep Aid for Adults With Anxiety Over the Counter

Here are some over-the-counter sleep aids that adults with anxiety might consider, though it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional before using any medication.

Best Over the Counter Sleeping Pills for Anxiety

  • Melatonin: A natural hormone that helps regulate sleep-wake cycles. It’s commonly used to improve sleep quality and benefit individuals with anxiety-related sleep issues.
  • Valerian Root: An herbal supplement that may have a calming effect and promote relaxation, potentially aiding in better sleep for those with anxiety.
  • L-Theanine: An amino acid found in tea leaves, it promotes relaxation without causing drowsiness, which can help with anxiety-induced sleep problems.
  • Chamomile: An herbal remedy often consumed as a tea, chamomile is thought to have mild sedative effects and might assist with anxiety-related sleep disturbances.
  • Passionflower: Another herbal option, passionflower, has been used traditionally to alleviate anxiety and insomnia.
  • Glycine: An amino acid that could help improve sleep quality by affecting neurotransmitters involved in relaxation.
  • Diphenhydramine: An antihistamine found in many OTC sleep aids, it can induce drowsiness but might not be suitable for long-term use due to potential side effects.

Always discuss your options with a healthcare provider, who can guide you on the best choice based on your specific needs and any potential interactions with other medications or health conditions.

Sleep Anxiety Essential Oils

Essential Oils for Sleep and Anxiety

When using essential oils, it’s vital to dilute them properly before applying to the skin or using them in a diffuser. Additionally, individual responses to aromatherapy can vary, so it’s a good idea to do a patch test and start with a small amount to gauge your reaction. If you have allergies or sensitivities, consult a healthcare provider before using essential oils.

  • Lavender: Known for its calming and relaxing properties, lavender oil can help reduce anxiety and improve sleep quality.
  • Chamomile: Chamomile oil has soothing qualities that can help relax the mind and body, making it beneficial for anxiety and sleep issues.
  • Ylang Ylang: This oil has a pleasant floral scent and is believed to have a calming effect on the nervous system, potentially aiding in anxiety reduction and better sleep.
  • Bergamot: With its citrusy aroma, bergamot oil may help alleviate stress and anxiety, which can, in turn, support improved sleep.
  • Cedarwood: Cedarwood oil’s grounding scent is thought to have a sedative effect, making it a potential option for easing anxiety and promoting sleep.
  • Frankincense: This oil is known for its tranquil and uplifting properties, which could help manage anxiety and create a conducive environment for sleep.
  • Vetiver: Vetiver oil’s earthy aroma is believed to have a calming and grounding effect, potentially aiding in relaxation and sleep.

Warnings About Alcohol and Sleep Anxiety

Sleep deprivation can result in an actual imbalance within the brain, which makes it more difficult for people to think clearly. Because of this lack of sleep, one might not function academically or professionally. For some people, sleep anxiety comes before alcohol. They may self-medicate with alcohol or other substances, such as marijuana or over-the-counter (OTC) medications. However, persons who consume alcohol in excessive amounts suffer from poor sleep quality, and patients with alcohol use disorders commonly report insomnia.

Alcohol and insomnia are known correlated problems. Alcohol should not be used as a sleep aid, and regular use of alcohol as a sleep aid may result in alcoholism. Alcohol and insomnia can increase the risks of sleep apnea. Sleep apnea causes you to stop breathing periodically throughout the night. It’s straightforward for people to fall into a vicious cycle, with sleep becoming more and more stressful.


Lack of Sleep Anxiety Symptoms

When you can’t sleep due to anxiety, you may experience behavioral changes, including:

  • Feelings of being overwhelmed.
  • Inability to concentrate.
  • Irritability.
  • Nervousness.
  • Restlessness.
  • Sense of impending danger or doom.

Physical symptoms of anxiety before bed may include:

  • Digestive problems.
  • Fast heart rate.
  • Rapid breathing.
  • Sweating.
  • Tense muscles.

If you suspect that anxiety affects your sleep, you must contact a healthcare professional for proper evaluation and guidance. They can help determine the underlying cause of your sleep issues and recommend appropriate treatments or interventions.

Signs of Anxiety During Sleep

  • Restless Sleep: Frequent tossing, turning, and difficulty staying still can be signs of anxiety.
  • Nightmares: Anxiety can lead to vivid and distressing nightmares that wake you up.
  • Insomnia: Trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up too early are common symptoms of anxiety-related sleep disturbances.
  • Excessive Sweating: Night sweats, particularly if not due to external factors like room temperature, can be linked to anxiety.
  • Racing Thoughts: If your mind is filled with worries and racing thoughts when trying to sleep, it’s likely tied to anxiety.
  • Muscle Tension: Teeth grinding, jaw clenching, or muscle tension while asleep can indicate underlying anxiety.
  • Frequent Waking: Waking up multiple times during the night and struggling to go back to sleep might result from anxiety.
  • Shortness of Breath: Waking up feeling out of breath or experiencing panic-like sensations during sleep could be linked to anxiety.
  • Gastrointestinal Issues: Digestive discomfort or symptoms like acid reflux might be exacerbated by anxiety, potentially impacting sleep.
  • Increased Heart Rate: Heart palpitations or a noticeable increase in heart rate during sleep can be related to anxiety.

Causes of Anxiety When Trying To Sleep

Sleep and anxiety are directly linked to a person’s adaptive stress response. Stress and anxiety trigger our bodies to release hormones that help us react quickly to escape harm. But you might constantly feel pressure or worry if you have chronic anxiety. You may fear everyday situations like driving to work or falling asleep.

Chronically high levels of these hormones, especially before sleep, can make it hard for your body to relax. You may have difficulty falling asleep. If you do fall asleep, you may wake up during the night with stressful or worrisome thoughts and not be able to fall asleep again.

The combination of insomnia and anxiety can also be caused by hypothyroidism, a condition where there isn’t enough thyroid hormone in your bloodstream, and your metabolism slows down.

Anxiety While Sleeping

Just as anxiety can affect sleep, sleep can affect anxiety. Sleep anxiety is a common characteristic of insomnia, wherein the individual begins to experience anxiety during the day and evening about poor sleep, which may help cause another night of insufficient sleep.

Research suggests that anxiety can affect rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. This is the phase of sleep when you tend to have vivid dreams. If you fear, the dreams may be disturbing or become nightmares that wake you.


Diagnosing Anxiety in Sleep

Sleep anxiety isn’t an official medical diagnosis recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the catalog of psychological conditions widely used by clinicians to diagnose patients. However, it’s still worthy of attention. After all, not all problems have an official diagnosis.

Anxiety When Sleeping

Diagnosing anxiety-related sleep issues involves assessing symptoms such as frequent insomnia, nightmares, restless sleep, or physical signs of anxiety during sleep, like muscle tension or increased heart rate. A comprehensive evaluation by a healthcare provider considers the individual’s medical history, sleep patterns, and the duration and intensity of symptoms. It may also involve ruling out other potential causes of sleep disturbances to determine the role of anxiety in sleep problems.

Anxiety About Sleeping

Diagnosing sleep-related anxiety involves recognizing persistent worries, fears, or negative thoughts specifically focused on sleeping or the potential consequences of poor sleep. A healthcare provider assesses the individual’s reported feelings and behaviors surrounding sleep, considering their impact on overall well-being and daily functioning.


Sleep Anxiety Test

A medical exam for sleep anxiety typically involves a comprehensive assessment by a healthcare professional. This assessment includes a detailed discussion of the individual’s sleep patterns, any associated worries or fears related to sleep, and the impact of sleep anxiety on their daily life.

The healthcare provider may also conduct physical examinations to rule out any underlying medical conditions contributing to sleep disturbances. Moreover, psychological evaluations or sleep studies might be recommended further to understand the nature and severity of sleep anxiety and guide appropriate treatment options.

Cognitive Behavioral Sleep Therapy for Anxiety

Cognitive behavioral sleep therapy (CBT) for anxiety is a structured therapeutic approach to address sleep disturbances and anxiety symptoms. This therapeutic modality involves assessing and modifying the mental patterns and behaviors contributing to sleep anxiety. Through guided sessions, individuals learn to identify and challenge negative thought patterns, develop relaxation techniques, and establish healthy sleep habits. CBT seeks to alleviate anxiety-driven sleep issues by promoting cognitive restructuring and fostering adaptive sleep-related behaviors.

Finding Treatment for Co-Occurring Anxiety and Sleep Disorder Treatment 

Someone who has significant or persistent anxiety and sleeping problems should talk with a medical professional who can best assess their situation and discuss the downsides and benefits of the possible treatment options.

Most common mental illnesses, including depression, anxiety, and PTSD, are related to sleep disorders, and alcohol and drug abuse disorders are not left out. However, the correlation may be complicated and bidirectional.

Alcohol and drug use can lead to sleep anxiety, but sleep anxiety can also increase the risk of substance abuse and addiction.

A person with a dual diagnosis has an alcohol or drug problem and a mental disorder. These conditions happen together frequently. About half of people with a mental illness will also have a substance use disorder at some point in their lives and vice versa. The interactions of the two conditions can worsen both. People with dual diagnoses require an integrated treatment plan that addresses both disorders as interconnected issues.

Tips for Sleeping With Anxiety

If anxiety or disrupted sleep often occurs in your day-to-day life, these simple strategies can help you relax your body and mind and ease yourself into sleep. Changing your pre-sleep habits takes time and patience, but adapting to these changes and sleep strategies for anxiety may help you fall asleep with less sleep anxiety.

Practice Good Sleep Hygiene 

If you have a routine and consistently engage in appropriate sleep hygiene, your mind will be less likely to experience anxious thoughts.

Practice Meditation

Practicing meditation before bedtime can help calm anxiety. Diaphragmatic breathing relaxation techniques can lead to significant reductions in anxiety.


Using exercise to calm sleep anxiety reduces the production of stress hormones. Regular exercise has been shown to help people fall asleep faster and more soundly. You should avoid vigorous activity for at least one hour before bedtime. If you’ve struggled to fall asleep, consider skipping the late-night sweat session and opt for a morning or afternoon workout.

Set Aside Time for Winding Down

Create a routine that winds you down and gets you in the mood for sleep. This can include dimming the lights, listening to calming sleep music for anxiety, or taking a warm bath. The best nighttime routine allows your mind and body time to slow down before you turn off the lights. Anxiety sleep music, such as relaxing sounds like rainfall or a softly spoken sleep story, can help.

Avoid Stressful Activities Before Bed

Creating some form of transition from daytime to sleeping is highly recommended. You can’t expect the mind to go to sleep on demand. Instead, you need to allow time for the brain to transition, just like we transition to go outside or when we get home. The goal is to reduce the nervous thoughts in your head so your mind is clear, calm, and positive before you head off to sleep.

Write Down Your Worries on Paper

This will help us remain accountable to ourselves, our feelings, our purpose, and our plan. Write them down so your brain has a game plan for the following day. Writing whatever comes to mind can help ease sleep anxiety.

Avoid Lying in Bed Awake

If you’re lying in bed for over 20 minutes and still can’t fall asleep, it might be time to give yourself a do-over. Leave your bedroom for a sleep-inducing activity, like having tea or reading a book. This conditioning, known as stimulus control, can reduce the time it takes to fall asleep.

Set Your Environment

Controlling light, sound, and temperature in your bedroom can increase your chances of quickly calming your mind and falling asleep. A sleep-friendly environment should be quiet, dark, and cool — between 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit, to be exact.

Best Tea for Sleep and Anxiety

A specific herbal tea for anxiety and sleep, like chamomile and valerian root, is known for its calming properties and can help alleviate anxiety and promote better sleep. Chamomile tea contains compounds that interact with receptors in the brain, inducing relaxation and reducing anxiety symptoms. Valerian root tea has been traditionally used as a natural remedy for anxiety and insomnia due to its potential to enhance GABA activity, aiding relaxation and sleep.

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Sleep anxiety can be caused by various factors, such as past traumatic experiences, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, depression, medical conditions, certain medications, or simply a fear of losing control while asleep.
Sleep anxiety can be caused by various factors, such as past traumatic experiences, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, depression, medical conditions, certain medications, or simply a fear of losing control while asleep.

Learn More:

Anxiety Sleep Meditation

Sleep meditation for anxiety helps alleviate sleep anxiety through several scientific mechanisms:

  • A guided meditation for anxiety and sleep activates the parasympathetic nervous system, promoting relaxation and reducing the fight-or-flight anxiety-related response.
  • Mindfulness meditation enhances self-awareness, allowing individuals to observe anxious thoughts without becoming entangled, reducing their impact on sleep.
  • Meditation positively impacts neurotransmitter levels, fostering the release of calming neurotransmitters like GABA while reducing stress hormones such as cortisol.
  • Consistently guided sleep meditation anxiety induces neuroplastic changes in the brain, improving emotional regulation and better sleep patterns.
Free Guided Meditation for Sleep and Anxiety
  • Find a Quiet Space: Choose a comfortable and quiet place where you won’t be disturbed.
  • Sit or Lie Down: Sit comfortably or lie down on your back. Close your eyes if you feel comfortable doing so.
  • Deep Breathing: Start by taking a few deep, slow breaths. Inhale deeply through your nose, filling your lungs, and then exhale slowly through your mouth.
  • Body Scan: Focus on each body part, starting from your toes and moving upwards. Notice any areas of tension or discomfort, and consciously release them as you exhale.
  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation: Tense each muscle group (starting with your feet) for a few seconds, then release and relax. Move up your body, doing this with each muscle group.
  • Visualization: Imagine a calm and peaceful place, like a beach or a forest. Visualize yourself there, surrounded by tranquility.
  • Affirmations: Repeat positive affirmations to yourself, such as “I am calm” or “I am in control of my thoughts.”
  • Breathing Focus: Bring your attention back to your breath. Inhale deeply, counting to four, then exhale slowly, counting to six.
  • Mindfulness: If anxious thoughts arise, acknowledge them without judgment, then gently bring your focus back to your breath.
  • Ending: When you’re ready to finish, take a few deep breaths. Gently wiggle your fingers and toes, gradually bringing awareness back to your surroundings.
Yoga Nidra for Sleep and Anxiety

Yoga Nidra can be a valuable tool for managing anxiety and improving sleep. Practicing regularly can lead to increased relaxation and a calmer mind. Here’s a simple list of steps for practicing Yoga Nidra, a guided relaxation technique that can aid in sleep and reduce anxiety:

  • Lie Down: Find a comfortable and quiet place to lie on your back.
  • Close Your Eyes: Close your eyes gently to help calm your mind.
  • Focus on Breath: Pay attention to your natural breath. Breathe slowly and deeply.
  • Body Scan: Bring awareness to each body part, starting from your toes and moving upward. Notice any sensations without judgment.
  • Set Intention: Set an intention for your practice, such as “I am releasing stress and finding deep relaxation.”
  • Follow the Guide: Following a guided recording, follow the instructions provided. The guide will lead you through various stages of relaxation.
  • Visualizations: Engage in guided visualizations that promote relaxation. Imagine calming scenes or sensations.
  • Repeat Sankalpa: Repeat a positive affirmation or intention (Sankalpa) that resonates with you, reinforcing your goals.
  • Breath Awareness: Return your focus to your breath, observing the natural inhales and exhales.
  • Gradual Awakening: As the session ends, gradually bring awareness back to your surroundings.
  • Stretch and Move: Before getting up, stretch gently and move your body to awaken it slowly.
  • Take Your Time: When ready, open your eyes and sit up slowly.
Binaural Beats for Sleep and Anxiety

Binaural beats are a technique often used to address sleep and anxiety concerns. By presenting slightly different frequencies to each ear, binaural beats can induce a perceived third frequency, which aligns with brainwave patterns associated with relaxation and deep sleep.

This can help alleviate anxiety by promoting a calmer mental state and reducing stress. Additionally, binaural beats have been explored for their potential to synchronize brainwaves, fostering improved sleep quality and a more tranquil mindset.

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Anxiety Sleep Medication List

Here is a list of typical sleep medications for anxiety. These medications should only be taken under the guidance of a healthcare professional:

  • Benzodiazepines: Examples include lorazepam, diazepam, and clonazepam. They can help with anxiety and may promote sleep, but they can also be habit-forming and have potential side effects.
  • Non-Benzodiazepine Sedative-Hypnotics: Medications like zolpidem (Ambien), eszopiclone (Lunesta), and zaleplon (Sonata) are often prescribed for short-term insomnia associated with anxiety.
  • Antidepressants: The best antidepressant for sleep and anxiety varies based on a person’s health. Specific selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) can also help manage anxiety and improve sleep.
  • Melatonin Agonists: These medications, like ramelteon (Rozerem is a sleep aid said to reduce anxiety), work with melatonin receptors to help regulate sleep-wake cycles and may be used for insomnia-related anxiety.
  • Buspirone: This anti-anxiety medication can help manage symptoms of anxiety, which in turn might improve sleep.
  • Antihistamines: Over-the-counter antihistamines like diphenhydramine (Benadryl) may induce drowsiness and are sometimes used for short-term sleep aid.
What is the best medication for sleep anxiety? If sleep anxiety becomes chronic or significantly disrupts daily life, seeking help from a mental health professional is advisable. They can provide strategies and potential medication options.
What is the best medication for sleep anxiety? If sleep anxiety becomes chronic or significantly disrupts daily life, seeking help from a mental health professional is advisable. They can provide strategies and potential medication options.

Precautions With Anxiety and Sleep Medications

A healthcare provider should choose medication based on an individual’s specific symptoms, medical history, and overall health.

Moreover, these medications may have potential side effects and interactions, so discussing them thoroughly with a medical professional is essential.

  • Tramadol for sleep and anxiety: Tramadol is not typically recommended for treating sleep anxiety due to its potential for dependence, side effects, and the availability of more suitable alternatives, and its use should only be considered under the direct supervision and guidance of a healthcare professional.
  • Antihistamine for sleep and anxiety: Using antihistamines for sleep and anxiety requires caution due to potential interactions, variable effectiveness, and the risk of developing tolerance, necessitating consultation with a healthcare provider before use.
  •  Hydroxyzine for sleep and anxiety: When considering Hydroxyzine for sleep and anxiety, it’s essential to exercise caution due to its potential sedative effects and individual responsiveness, requiring appropriate medical oversight.
  • Amitriptyline for sleep and anxiety: Amitriptyline should be used cautiously for sleep and stress due to its potential side effects and interactions, requiring close monitoring by a healthcare professional.
  • Trazodone for sleep and anxiety: Trazodone should be used with caution for rest and fear management under the supervision of a healthcare provider.
  • Clonidine for sleep and anxiety dosage:  When using Clonidine for sleep and anxiety, it is crucial to adhere to the recommended dosage guidelines and receive careful medical supervision to minimize potential risks and ensure its effectiveness.
  • Gabapentin dose for sleep and anxiety: While using gabapentin for sleep and anxiety, it’s essential to follow the prescribed dosage and heed medical guidance to mitigate possible adverse effects and ensure safe and optimal results.

Which Magnesium is Best for Sleep and Anxiety?

Magnesium in magnesium glycinate or magnesium citrate is often considered among the best choices for sleep anxiety due to its higher bioavailability and potential to cross the blood-brain barrier. These forms of the best magnesium for sleep and anxiety have a calming effect on the nervous system, promoting relaxation and potentially improving sleep quality by modulating neurotransmitters and reducing stress hormone levels.

However, individual responses can vary, and consulting a healthcare professional for personalized guidance is recommended before supplementing with magnesium for sleep and anxiety.

Top 10 Can Sleep Deprivation Cause Anxiety? FAQs

  1. How to sleep better with anxiety?

    To sleep better with anxiety, establish a calming bedtime routine that includes relaxation techniques like deep breathing or meditation while maintaining consistent sleep and wake times to regulate your body’s internal clock. Limit screen time before bed, create a comfortable sleep environment, and learn your best sleeping position for anxiety. Consider consulting a healthcare professional for personalized strategies if stress disrupts your sleep.

  2. Does sleep deprivation cause anxiety?

    Yes, sleep deprivation can contribute to the development or exacerbation of anxiety. Lack of sleep can disrupt the balance of neurotransmitters in the brain, increase stress hormone levels, and impair cognitive function, all of which can lead to heightened feelings of anxiety and worsen existing anxiety disorders.

  3. Does sleep help anxiety?

    Yes, getting sufficient and restful sleep can help alleviate anxiety. Sleep plays a crucial role in regulating mood, reducing stress hormones, and allowing the brain to process emotions effectively, improving overall mental well-being and reducing anxiety symptoms.

  4. How to get a good night sleep with anxiety?

    To achieve a good night’s sleep with anxiety, establish a calming bedtime routine that includes reading, gentle stretching, or a warm bath. Practice relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or mindfulness meditation (have your mantra or prayer for sleep and anxiety) before bed, and ensure your sleep environment is comfortable, dark, and conducive to relaxation. Seek professional help if your sleep anxiety affects your daily life.

  5. Can anxiety cause sleep apnea?

    Anxiety doesn’t directly cause sleep apnea but can contribute to its development or exacerbation. Heightened anxiety levels can lead to increased muscle tension, including the muscles in the throat, potentially narrowing the airway and making it more susceptible to collapse during sleep, contributing to obstructive sleep apnea.

  6. How do you stop an anxiety attack while sleeping?

    To stop an anxiety attack while sleeping, it’s essential first to become aware of what may be triggering the anxiety and try to address those underlying issues during waking hours through therapy or stress management techniques. Creating a relaxing bedtime routine, practicing deep breathing or mindfulness exercises, and ensuring a comfortable sleep environment with calming elements like soft lighting and soothing sounds can also help reduce the likelihood of anxiety attacks disrupting your sleep.

  7. What is this tingling all over body when trying to sleep anxiety?

    When trying to sleep, the tingling sensation all over the body can be a symptom of anxiety. It’s often associated with the body’s “fight or flight” response, where increased stress levels can lead to physical sensations like tingling, muscle tension, or heightened sensitivity, making it challenging to relax and fall asleep. If you’re experiencing persistent anxiety-related symptoms like this, you should consult a healthcare professional or therapist for guidance and support in managing your anxiety.

  8. What is the best music for sleep and anxiety?

    The best music for sleep and anxiety is typically soft, calming, and soothing instrumental music or nature sounds like ocean waves, rain, or gentle forest sounds. These types of music can help lower stress levels, promote relaxation, and create a peaceful sleep environment conducive to restful sleep and anxiety reduction.

  9. What is somniphobia treatment?

    Somniphobia, the fear of sleep, can be treated through various therapeutic approaches. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is often recommended, which can help individuals identify and address the underlying causes of their fear and develop healthier sleep patterns. Medications may also be prescribed in some cases to alleviate anxiety and facilitate sleep, but this should be done under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

  10. What is sleep anxiety disorder?

    Sleep anxiety disorder, often called “nighttime anxiety” or “nocturnal anxiety,” is a condition where individuals experience high anxiety levels, specifically when trying to fall asleep or during the night. This anxiety can manifest as racing thoughts, restlessness, and physical symptoms that make sleeping difficult, leading to disrupted sleep patterns and sleep deprivation.

Sleep Anxiety Fact Sheet

Does Lack of Sleep Cause Anxiety?

Scientific evidence suggests a bidirectional relationship between lack of sleep and anxiety. Chronic sleep deprivation disrupts the balance of neurotransmitters in the brain, particularly those involved in mood regulation, leading to increased susceptibility to anxiety disorders.

Sleep plays a critical role in emotional processing and consolidation of memories, so insufficient sleep can impair the brain’s ability to cope with stressors, potentially triggering or exacerbating anxiety symptoms.

Sleep deprivation can also heighten the body’s stress response, elevating cortisol levels and other anxiety-related stress hormones. Addressing sleep deficits through improved sleep hygiene and adequate rest can improve anxiety management.

What are the Types of Anxiety Disorders?

Anxiety is a core element of several specific disorders, although not all are categorized strictly as anxiety disorders.

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): People with GAD have significant, looming worries about many things that can cause an overarching sense of anxiety.
  • Panic Disorder: Extremely intense episodes of fear, known as panic attacks, usually lasting for a few minutes, are the defining feature of Panic Disorder.
  • Social Anxiety Disorder: This disorder involves an extreme fear of social settings and potential embarrassment in front of others.
  • Specific Phobias: Specific phobias are intense fears caused by particular triggers. Some of the most common specific phobias include agoraphobia (a fear of open or enclosed spaces, being in a crowd, or being outside of the home alone) and separation anxiety.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): In OCD, a person obsesses about an issue in a negative way such that it provokes anxiety, which causes a compulsion, which is their attempt to control or eliminate that anxiety. Compulsions are repeated ritually and can directly impact everyday activities.
  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): PTSD is a mental health condition triggered by experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. It is characterized by symptoms such as intrusive memories, flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety, and avoidance behaviors. PTSD can significantly impact daily life and requires proper diagnosis and treatment, often involving therapy, medication, or a combination.

Effects of Insomnia 

Sleep is a vital function that the body needs to heal, recuperate, and maintain energy. However, if someone is struggling with sleep anxiety, insomnia, or a mix of both, this can have some harmful side effects on the body if left untreated for an extended period.

Lack of sleep can lead to increased chances of anxiety, but anxiety can also cause a lack of sleep. Unfortunately, the two can intertwine, causing one to exacerbate the other. Stress can hurt your body’s ability to fall asleep as your brain is in “fight or flight” mode, thinking of all potential outcomes for whatever is causing the anxiety. 

Furthermore, anticipatory anxiety and specific anxiety about sleep can lead to sleep disturbance and insomnia, creating a feedback loop that can worsen both conditions.

Long-term insomnia can lead to other medical issues, such as:

  • Asthma attacks.
  • Increased risk of stroke.
  • Increased risk of seizures.
  • Weakened immune system functions.
  • Increased sensitivity to pain.
  • Heightened blood pressure.
  • Increased risk of inflammation.
  • Increased risk of diabetes mellitus.
  • Increased chance of unhealthy weight fluctuation.
  • Increased risk of heart disease.

Additionally, insomnia can cause adverse mental health side effects, including:

  • Depression.
  • Anxiety.
  • Feelings of confusion, irritability, or frustration.
  • Emotional instability.

Lack of sleep could impair the brain’s ability to process negative experiences or emotions, increasing the risk of developing mental illnesses such as anxiety or depression. In addition, lack of sleep could affect the amygdala’s processes, which is the primary part of the brain responsible for emotion and memory.

Can Sleep Apnea Cause Anxiety?

There is a connection between sleep apnea and anxiety supported by scientific research. Sleep apnea, especially the obstructive type, leads to repeated interruptions in breathing during sleep, causing fluctuations in oxygen levels and sleep fragmentation.

These disruptions trigger the body’s stress response, elevating cortisol and activating the sympathetic nervous system, both associated with anxiety. Moreover, sleep apnea can affect the brain’s emotional processing centers due to poor sleep quality, potentially contributing to the development or exacerbation of anxiety disorders. Treating sleep apnea, often with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy, has been shown to improve anxiety symptoms in some individuals.

Types of Insomnia

Are you having anxiety sleeping next to someone? Or do you have insomnia oftentimes? There are multiple levels to measure the severity of insomnia and different types of insomnia. The severity of insomnia can be broken down into five categories. 

The categories and types are broken down as follows:

  • Type 1: Highly distressed, often struggling with neuroticism or prone to anxiety and feeling tense.
  • Type 2: Moderately distressed but sensitive to rewards or positive events.
  • Type 3: Moderately distressed and not sensitive to rewards or positive events.
  • Type 4: Slightly distressed, highly reactive, or sensitive to stressful life events.
  • Type 5: Slightly distressed, low reactivity, or low sensitivity to stressful life events.

Additionally, there are different forms of insomnia that a person may struggle with, including the following:

  • Acute insomnia: This is characterized by a brief experience with insomnia, often due to a stressful life event. It usually resolves without the need for treatment.
  • Chronic insomnia: This is characterized by having difficulty falling asleep three or more nights a week for longer than three months. Many causes may result in chronic insomnia, but a long-term pattern of difficulty sleeping distinguishes chronic.
  • Comorbid insomnia: As mentioned previously, comorbid insomnia is the presence of insomnia alongside other medical conditions, either psychiatric or physical illnesses such as arthritis or chronic pain. In these cases, insomnia is not a side effect of the state but exists independently of it.
  • Onset insomnia: This type of insomnia is characterized by difficulty falling asleep initially at the beginning of a sleep cycle.
  • Maintenance insomnia: This type of insomnia is characterized by difficulty staying asleep, though typically without issue falling asleep initially. Instead, the problem arises due to the afflicted waking up and unable to fall asleep later at night.
Sleep anxiety can significantly impact a person's daily functioning, leading to daytime fatigue, difficulty concentrating, irritability, and impaired cognitive performance.
Sleep anxiety can significantly impact a person’s daily functioning, leading to daytime fatigue, difficulty concentrating, irritability, and impaired cognitive performance.

The Truth About CBD Dose for Sleep and Anxiety

While there is growing interest in using CBD (cannabidiol) for sleep and anxiety, scientific research on its effectiveness and optimal dosage is still evolving. Some studies suggest that CBD may reduce stress and improve sleep by interacting with receptors in the endocannabinoid system. However, individual responses vary, and more rigorous research is needed to determine precise dosages and long-term effects.

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Sleep anxiety is a common aspect of various anxiety disorders. Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is often associated with sleep-related anxiety.


The prevalence of sleep-related anxiety varies, but it’s estimated that around 50-60% of people with GAD experience sleep disturbances.

Source: NCBI


It’s estimated that around 10-30% of adults worldwide experience chronic insomnia, while up to 50% experience occasional sleep difficulties.

Source: NCBI


Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health disorders in the US. In any given year, around 18% of adults (ages 18 and older) in the US are affected by an anxiety disorder.

Source: NCBI

Sleep Anxiety Symptoms Treatment

Sleep anxiety can manifest with symptoms like excessive worry about falling asleep, racing thoughts at bedtime, and increased heart rate when thinking about sleep. This can lead to sleep deprivation, impacting daily functioning. If you or someone you know struggles with sleep anxiety, seeking treatment is essential. Consider contacting a mental health professional who can provide therapy, relaxation techniques, and strategies to address sleep concerns, leading to improved sleep quality.

Common Sleep Anxiety Symptoms

Common sleep anxiety symptoms encompass a range of psychological and physiological responses that individuals experience when faced with the prospect of sleep. These symptoms, rooted in the body’s stress response and cognitive processes, often include racing thoughts, restlessness, increased heart rate, sweating, and a persistent sense of unease, collectively contributing to the challenges of falling asleep and maintaining restful slumber.

Anxiety Heart Racing When Trying To Sleep

Experiencing a racing heart when trying to sleep is a common manifestation of anxiety-related sleep disturbances. This physiological response, driven by the body’s fight-or-flight reaction, can intensify feelings of unease and hinder the ability to relax, making it challenging to initiate a peaceful sleep.

Mind Racing Can’t Sleep Anxiety

When the mind races and you can’t sleep due to anxiety, it results from heightened stress and overactive cognitive processes. Racing thoughts, often centered on worries or concerns, keep the brain engaged and alert, disrupting the natural transition into restful sleep.

Jolting Awake From Sleep Anxiety

Jolting awake from sleep with a surge of anxiety, often accompanied by a rapid heart rate and a sense of panic, is a characteristic symptom of sleep anxiety. These sudden awakenings and body shaking in sleep anxiety can be triggered by unsettling dreams, intrusive thoughts, or a generalized state of hyperarousal, further contributing to sleep disturbances.

Anxiety Seizures in Sleep

Anxiety seizures during sleep are not typical seizures as seen in epilepsy but can refer to episodes where intense anxiety or panic attacks occur during the sleep cycle, causing a person to wake up feeling extremely distressed. These episodes can be triggered by nightmares, night terrors, or other sleep-related factors, significantly disrupting sleep patterns and overall well-being.

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Are you seeking more information about sleep anxiety treatment? Feel free to call one of our mental health specialists. We will help you get the resources and support you need.
Are you seeking more information about sleep anxiety treatment? Feel free to call one of our mental health specialists. We will help you get the resources and support you need.

Sleep Anxiety Treatment

Mental health professionals possess the expertise to address and overcome sleep anxiety effectively. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and exposure therapy can help identify and modify negative thought patterns associated with sleep, gradually reducing anxiety triggers.

Collaborating with a mental health professional provides tailored guidance and support, enabling individuals to regain control over their rest and minimize the impact of anxiety on their daily lives.

Overcoming Sleep Anxiety. Find the Support You Need.

If you or someone you know struggles with sleep anxiety, seeking professional help is crucial. Consider exploring the comprehensive treatment options at the reputable We Level Up NJ mental health rehabilitation center. We provide a supportive environment where experienced professionals can guide you through therapy, relaxation techniques, and coping strategies, helping you overcome sleep anxiety and improve your overall mental well-being.

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Do you have questions about treatment for sleep anxiety? Call our mental health and insomnia 24 hour hotline. Each call is free, there is no obligation, and confidential.

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Top 10 What Causes Sleep Anxiety? FAQs

  1. Why do I have sleep anxiety?

    Sleeping anxiety can stem from a variety of factors, including excessive worrying about not being able to fall asleep or have a restful night, past experiences of sleep difficulties, and the anticipation of feeling tired or unproductive the next day if sleep is inadequate, all of which contribute to a cycle of anxiety that further hinders sleep. Moreover, lifestyle stressors, such as work pressures or personal concerns, can exacerbate this lack of sleep and anxiety, making it necessary to address both the immediate sleep-related concerns and broader sources of stress.

  2. How to treat sleep anxiety?

    Treating anxiety before sleep often involves a combination of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques, relaxation exercises, and lifestyle adjustments. Cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) can help reframe negative thought patterns about sleep. In contrast, relaxation exercises like meditation, deep breathing, and progressive muscle techniques can help you calm your mind and body before bedtime, ultimately aiding in better sleep.

  3. Can lack of sleep cause anxiety panic attacks?

    Yes, sleep deprivation can develop or exacerbate anxiety and panic attacks. Sleep deprivation can disrupt neurotransmitter balance in the brain, making individuals more susceptible to heightened anxiety and panic responses. Moreover, sleep is significant in regulating emotions and stress, so insufficient sleep can lower the threshold for experiencing anxiety and panic symptoms.

  4. Can you have an anxiety attack in your sleep?

    Yes, it’s possible to experience an anxiety attack in sleep. These are known as nocturnal panic attacks and can wake a person from slumber with intense fear, panic, and physical symptoms like a racing heart, sweating, and shortness of breath. Nocturnal anxiety attacks while sleeping can be unsettling and disrupt sleep patterns, further contributing to sleep difficulties and anxiety.

  5. How to sleep with stress and anxiety?

    To sleep better with stress and anxiety, consider establishing a calming bedtime routine that includes activities like reading, gentle stretching, or practicing relaxation techniques. Limit screen time before sleeping, create a comfortable sleep setting, and avoid heavy meals and caffeine close to bedtime. If sleep deprivation and anxiety persist, consider talking to a healthcare professional for guidance and potential treatment options.

  6. Can sleep anxiety be cured?

    Anxiety and lack of sleep can be effectively treated and managed with the right strategies. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for insomnia and anxiety, relaxation techniques, and lifestyle adjustments can significantly reduce sleep-related stress and improve sleep quality. However, individual experiences may vary, and working closely with a healthcare professional to uncover the most suitable approach for your situation is essential.

  7. How to relieve sleep anxiety?

    Sleep anxiety cure involves implementing calming practices and lifestyle changes. Try relaxation strategies, such as progressive muscle relaxation, deep breathing, meditation, or meditation before bed, establish a consistent sleep schedule, create a comfortable sleep environment, and consider limiting stimulating activities and screen time in the evening to help ease sleep-related anxiety.

  8. What magnesium is best for sleep and anxiety?

    Magnesium citrate or magnesium glycinate are often considered suitable options for improving sleep and reducing anxiety. These forms of magnesium for anxiety and sleep are well-absorbed by the body and have been associated with promoting relaxation and supporting better sleep quality. However, it’s recommended to consult a healthcare professional before adding supplements to your routine, especially if you have specific health conditions or are taking other medications.

  9. Does sleep apnea cause anxiety?

    Yes, anxiety and sleep apnea have a deeper connection. Sleep apnea can contribute to developing or worsening anxiety symptoms. Repeated interruptions (caused by sleep apnea anxiety) in breathing during sleep can cause fragmented sleep, decreased oxygen levels, and heightened physiological stress responses, contributing to increased pressure and feelings of restlessness during sleep and wakefulness.

  10. How to sleep with anxiety and depression?

    To sleep better with anxiety and depression, establish a consistent sleep schedule, create a calming bedtime routine, and maintain a comfortable sleep environment. Incorporate relaxation practices, such as meditation, deep breathing, or gentle stretching before bed, and consider discussing your sleep concerns with a healthcare professional who can provide tailored advice and therapy for sleep anxiety options.

Learn About Anxiety Disorder Facts & Anxiety Treatment Programs That Can Help You

Anxiety disorders often lead to sleep problems due to the heightened state of physiological and psychological arousal they induce. Individuals with anxiety may experience racing thoughts, excessive worry, and a sense of restlessness, all of which can affect the ability to sleep and stay asleep.

The release of stress hormones, including cortisol, can disrupt the natural sleeping and waking-up cycle, leading to difficulty maintaining a regular sleep pattern. Moreover, the fear of being unable to sleep or the anticipation of a restless night can exacerbate anxiety symptoms, creating a cycle of sleep deprivation and increased anxiety. Addressing and treating the underlying anxiety is crucial in improving sleep quality for those with anxiety disorders.

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[1] Staner L. Sleep and anxiety disorders. Dialogues Clin Neurosci. 2003 Sep;5(3):249-58. Doi 10.31887/DCNS.2003.5.3/lstaner. PMID: 22033804; PMCID: PMC3181635.

[2] Chellappa SL, Aeschbach D. Sleep and anxiety: From mechanisms to interventions. Sleep Med Rev. 2022 Feb;61:101583. Doi 10.1016/j.smrv.2021.101583. Epub 2021 Dec 8. PMID: 34979437.

[3] Anxiety Disorders – National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

[4] Anxiety Disorders – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

[5] Prevention and Treatment of Anxiety, Depression, and Suicidal Thoughts and Behaviors Among College Students – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

[6] Mental Health Conditions: Depression and Anxiety – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

[7] Anxiety Disorders: Types, Causes, Symptoms & Treatments – MedlinePlus (.gov)

[8] Mental Health and Mental Disorders – Healthy People 2030 https://health.gov/healthypeople/objectives-and-data/browse-objectives/mental-health-and-mental-disorders

[9] Munir S, Takov V. Generalized Anxiety Disorder. [Updated 2022 Oct 17]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK441870/

[10] Any Anxiety Disorder – NIMH – National Institutes of Health (NIH)