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Everything You Must Know About Insomnia and Anxiety

We all have experienced insomnia 1and anxiety once in our lives. It is a condition that is most commonly seen in adults. It is when one does not quite know what or why one is having a sudden feeling of being worried or when they are unable to fall asleep due to it. One cannot see the reason behind their anxiety and insomnia if they do not pay close attention to themselves.

It is known that anxiety can cause many sleep disorders like sleep apnea2, insomnia, and narcolepsy. Anxiety is also responsible for depression, panic attacks, and sleep disruption. Anxiety leads to one losing sleep and fear relating to some things, which would disrupt their everyday life and develop negative thinking.

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Sleep disorders are most common among adults. Anxiety disorder includes insomnia which affects one’s mental health but can also be seen as physical strains on the body like tense muscles, sleep disruptions, and panic attacks. In anxiety disorders, the person cannot fall asleep due to negative thoughts or worrying about something.

The most common sleep disorders are anxiety or poor sleep habits. Insomnia is a sleep disorder wherein a person has difficulty falling asleep and, if not treated, can cause severe cases of eating too much, stress, or diabetes. It can cause loss of focus and difficulty concentrating on any task performed.

We know that anxiety disorders are not something that only affects our mental health3. Still, it also affects our physical health as we ignore our body’s necessities, food, and water. We either have a huge or no appetite; neither is good for our health.

Similarity Between Anxiety And Insomnia

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Before knowing the similarities between insomnia and anxiety, let’s see what they mean. Anxiety is a feeling of extreme fear or worry one experiences once in a while. But if you have this feeling more than 3 times a week over three months, you may have developed an anxiety disorder which, if not treated, can harm you.

Insomnia can be caused by various reasons depending on the person’s mental health. Insomnia, if lasting for more than 3 months, can be diagnosed as chronic insomnia. It can also lead to depression and other mental health problems. Insomnia can also be called sleep deprivation, where one cannot fall asleep or stay asleep for a long time.

Now let’s look at the similarity between insomnia and anxiety. The main similarity is that both causes sleep deprivation and, if not treated, can affect one’s physical and mental health. If one has even one of the two, it can lead to having another, which is if you have anxiety, you can develop insomnia and vice-versa.

Let’s understand it this way, if you have a constant worry over an issue throughout the day, then you are so fixated on it that you don’t eat properly or focus on the task you are doing, and then also keep thinking of it at night which leads to not having a good night’s sleep. It is a mental hyperarousal4 that disrupts your sleep schedule.

So, the major similarity is that insomnia and anxiety neither let you fall asleep nor stay asleep. Also, nighttime anxiety can cause rapid breathing, panic attack, sleeping problems like difficulty falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep, chills, or nightmares. Nighttime anxiety is also called sleep anxiety.

Types Of Insomnia And Anxiety Disorders

1. Types Of Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety Disorder.
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PTSD 5is a post-traumatic stress disorder that one develops if they have experienced a trauma or fear they cannot forget. The events could be the sudden death of a loved one, witnessing a shocking accident, or domestic violence. Some symptoms of PTSD are regularly the same nightmares, sudden outbursts, feeling of guilt, loss of interest in doing anything, or sleep problems.

2. Generalized Anxiety Disorders

Generalized anxiety disorder is an anxiety disorder that lasts for more than 6 months. It is an anxiety disorder that is induced due to stress relating to health, work, or day-to-day activities. Some symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder are easily tired, tight muscles, no use of relaxation techniques, and sleeping problems.

3. OCD

OCD is an obsessive-compulsive anxiety disorder in which one sees disturbing and recurring images or things that make them double-check everything they do and become obsessed with something. The symptoms of OCD 6are fear of losing control, keeping order in everything, or double-checking. To treat OCD, one must go for cognitive behavior therapy to cope with their fears.

4. Social Phobia

Social phobia is also known as a social anxiety disorder. This anxiety disorder mostly occurs if one is afraid to attend social events or gatherings. This phobia is mostly seen in students or introverts who are shy to talk. Some symptoms could be feeling embarrassed or being judged by others in a negative light. Talk therapy could be effective for these people.

5. Panic Disorder

You may have a panic disorder with a common trigger if you have regular panic attacks. The panic attack can appear anytime, so the person experiencing them will avoid the specific trigger. Some symptoms of panic disorder are a heart rate increase, difficulty breathing, or feeling of a loss of control.

6. Specific Phobia

It is one of the anxiety disorders wherein there is no real danger, but the person having the anxiety can feel extreme emotions of fear when they are in contact with that thing or phobia. This phobia can be an animal, situation, body-based, sexual, or natural environment phobia.

These are some of the anxiety disorders that one can have that impact their physical as well as mental health. Due to these anxiety disorders, one can also develop a sleep disorder as it affects their sleep habits. Even if they sleep, they sometimes wake up early due to constant negative thinking.

2. Types Of Insomnia

By Kenton, unlimphotos, Copyright 2022   Chronic Insomnia

1. Chronic Insomnia

Insomnia, which is mostly caused by stress, is chronic. In chronic insomnia, one experiences sleep difficulties or sleep disruptions due to certain not good sleep habits, work stress, or any scary life experience. One needs time and sleep medicine to overcome chronic insomnia as it lasts more than 6 months.

2. Onset Insomnia

This insomnia mostly means you have trouble sleeping at the start of your sleep. This insomnia is caused by stress, anxiety, and sleep. One must have a good bedtime routine and sleep schedule to cure this type of insomnia. Onset insomnia can be due to a change in lifestyle, an increase in caffeine, or poor sleep.

3. Acute Insomnia

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Acute insomnia, insomnia lasts from 1 day to a few weeks. Still, it can be cured if you keep a good sleep foundation and try some relaxation techniques, as the main causes are stress, depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders. Try to have good sleep hygiene to get a better night’s sleep.

4. Maintenance Insomnia

This type of insomnia neither gives you a disrupted sleep nor makes you unable to fall asleep once awake. Insomnia can be caused by stress or anxiety, and sleep medicine can help to overcome it as you will not wake up in the middle of the night. It can last for 3 nights a week, but if it is for more than 3 months, you may have developed sleep maintenance insomnia.

5. Comorbid Insomnia

It is insomnia that is mostly observed in a person who has a medical history of another disease that either affects the physical or mental health. It could include heart disease, diabetes, or circadian disorders (it affects the body’s sleep health). This insomnia is not a part of the other disease but is independent on its own.

These insomnia types make a person unable to fall asleep and give him sleep anxiety. This also helps to know that there is a connection between anxiety and depression, which depends on how much sleep a person gets and if it is enough for their body. If a person has a better night’s rest, he can maintain a good sleep foundation.

Causes Of Insomnia And Anxiety Disorders

causes of anxiety
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Now we know the meaning and types of insomnia and anxiety disorders. But let’s see the different causes due to which a person faces them. There is not a single cause but many other causes that result in anxiety and sleep problems. The main reason is stress, sleep problems, and sleep anxiety.

When exposed to insomnia, anxiety, and sleep disorders, the body releases a hormone called adrenaline that drives one away from danger. We can see anxiety symptoms like profuse sweating, insufficient sleep, and heavy deep breathing. It is also said that anxiety can induce insomnia, and insomnia can induce anxiety in the form of sleep anxiety or problems itself.

Insomnia can lead to pathogenic sleep reactivity, which means having interrupted sleep or difficulty sleeping. It is observed that if you have chronic insomnia for a long time, then you may have anxiety and depression association. If anxiety and insomnia last for a long time, there is depression associated directly liked to them.

It is said that anxiety affects REM sleep when you have dreams, and due to anxiety, you may have a bad dream or nightmare during that time. So, even if you fall asleep easily, you could wake up disrupted. So, a sleep study is important to keep track of the activities that affect your sleep hygiene and help to reduce anxiety disorders.

Effects Of Insomnia And Anxiety

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In the above context, we saw the causes that led to insomnia and anxiety disorders. Now, let’s look at the effects of this anxiety and insomnia. The results are not only on physical health but also on mental health. The major impact of it is on the sleep foundation; because of it, a person cannot heal as immediately as possible, so deep sleep is necessary to recover.

Due to insomnia and anxiety, the person can develop sleep anxiety disorders. In this disorder, one cannot get enough sleep and so cannot heal from other related diseases. An effective sleep study is necessary to heal, and being deprived of sleep due to sleep anxiety does not help. One needs to have a deep sleep during the night to prepare for the next day in a better way to handle the stress the next day as well.

If one has sleep anxiety, they experience feelings of being moody, sensitive, restless, extreme fear, and losing focus easily are symptoms that show problems for mental health. The physical exam is taken to know the extent of physical problems like tense muscles, profuse sweating, increased heart rate, and breathing problem.

So, we know that sleep anxiety is due to insomnia and anxiety disorders. Still, if we need to overcome it, we need to have a good night’s sleep, be clear of any negative thoughts, and try to maintain good physical and mental health. If we do not have proper sleeping habits, we may get sleep anxiety.

Ways To Overcome Insomnia And Anxiety

relief from anxiety


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There are many medical associations and research institutions that are working to know what is the root cause of anxiety and insomnia. They are yet to decide the cause as it differs from person to person. But, common sleep disorders are caused due to pressure, and it is generated as a response to the stress experienced by a person. So, let’s look at ways to overcome this insomnia and anxiety.

1. Relaxation Techniques

Relaxation techniques such as pursuing hobbies, sports, exercising, or even maintaining good sleep hygiene can help reduce anxiety disorders like sleep anxiety or sleep apnea. In relaxation techniques, one can also try therapy as you tell your trusted person all your problems and things causing them stress.

2. Having Uninterrupted Sleep

You may have sleep anxiety if you have interrupted sleep throughout the night. An adult needs mostly 7 to 8 hours of sleep, while a child needs more than 10 hours. If you want trouble falling asleep, try to have some water before bedtime and stop any negative thinking you are doing as it is causing you difficulty sleeping.

3. Keeping Sleep Hygiene

To maintain good sleep hygiene, one needs to have a bedtime routine that enables them to have a better night’s sleep and keep away from the screens like mobile or laptops as watching them for too long would make them lose sleep. Also, keep a sleep diary to record the hours you slept and if you experienced any difficulty staying asleep.

4. Planning the Next Day

One can manage stress and sleep anxiety by planning as they can keep a sleep diary to write things to do or any dream they have during the night or their stressor and forget about them for the time being. It would be good for their mental health and help to stay asleep and avoid sleep disruptions.


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From the above context, we know all about insomnia and anxiety. In this, we saw their meaning, similarities between them, their types, the causes and effects of it, and also some ways in which we can manage them and help to reduce them not to be changed into a severe cases that would lead to depression. Never wait a long time to treat anxiety or insomnia, as they cause much trouble.

You have to understand that having anxiety or insomnia is very common but what usually matters is if you can handle that much pressure, stress, or sleep deprivation or not. If you develop sleep anxiety, it can affect your health very much. If they interfere with your everyday life, it is good to pay close attention to them and cure it.

You should never ignore health problems because of your work as your work can be done by anyone, but it is only you who has to maintain your health. Your sleep hygiene determines mostly how healthy you are. You should have good sleep habits and track how much sleep you get daily, as sleeping helps reduce anxiety and cure insomnia.

Suppose, even after trying, you cannot overcome your anxiety and insomnia. So, before trying anything, visit a doctor if you experience anxiety or insomnia over 3 or 6 months. In that case, you should consult a doctor first but never take an OTC sleep medicine alone as you are unaware of the ingredients and their side effects on your body.

  1. Riemann, Dieter, et al. “Sleep, insomnia, and depression.” Neuropsychopharmacology 45.1 (2020): 74-89. ↩︎
  2. Gottlieb, Daniel J., and Naresh M. Punjabi. “Diagnosis and management of obstructive sleep apnea: a review.” Jama 323.14 (2020): 1389-1400. ↩︎
  3. Moreno, Carmen, et al. “How mental health care should change as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic.” The lancet psychiatry 7.9 (2020): 813-824. ↩︎
  4. Blaskovich, Borbala, et al. “The utility of wearable headband electroencephalography and pulse photoplethysmography to assess cortical hyperarousal in individuals with stress-related mental disorders.” medRxiv (2023): 2023-06. ↩︎
  5. Dutheil, Frédéric, Laurie Mondillon, and Valentin Navel. “PTSD as the second tsunami of the SARS-Cov-2 pandemic.” Psychological medicine 51.10 (2021): 1773-1774. ↩︎
  6. Goodman, Wayne K., Eric A. Storch, and Sameer A. Sheth. “Harmonizing the neurobiology and treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder.” American Journal of Psychiatry 178.1 (2021): 17-29. ↩︎

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