Anxiety disorders are very common in the United States. I would say that half of all the phone calls I receive at my office have to do with some form of anxiety problem. The Anxiety and Depression Association of American says that anxiety disorders are present in about 18% of the population. They also mention that only about one-third of those that suffer from the disorder seek treatment.
The disorder can disrupt many parts of your life. The one that I hear clients talk about the most is sleep. Anxiety has the nasty effect of keeping your brain going at full speed all day long and even when you are ready to go to sleep or want to go to sleep. Mostly, people say the worries of the day or the worries about tomorrow are what keep them up. This is can be dangerous because it takes very few days with poor sleep for individuals to start having cognitive problems. The good news is that some people have reported good results using a simple cognitive trick.
It starts by keeping a notebook and a pen by the bed. Every night, or just the nights you can't get to sleep, open the notebook and write down everything that is going on in your head. It could be numbers or pictures or just phrases. Really you are just trying to do a brain dump on the page. For some people this tricks the brain into thinking that they have completed or done their part on those worries for the time being. Even if for just long enough for them to get to sleep. It also allows them to process some of the things that are bothering them and that might in itself help to eliminate anxiety.
Here are a few other quick things that can help with sleep at night.
- Avoid alcohol
- Avoid caffeine
- Make sure you stop using your electronics an hour of so before you lay down in your bed.
- Don't do anything in your bed other than sleep and have sex.
Chris Depew is a therapist and operates a private counseling practice in Huntsville Alabama and he focuses on personality disorders, addictions, and divorce care but helps anyone find peace in the middle of troubled times.