Stress, Anxiety, and Your Sleep
Summertime is the season to relax, recharge, and unwind. But that may not be as easy as it sounds. Seven out of ten adults in the United States say they experience stress or anxiety daily—and most say it interferes at least moderately with their lives. About one-third report persistent stress or excessive anxiety daily or that they have had an anxiety or panic attack. Seven out of ten of those adults say they have trouble sleeping.
Stress often affects sleep, and sleep problems can add to a person’s stress. But sleep may also become a coping mechanism for stress or anxiety.
These are among the findings of the 2007 Stress & Anxiety Disorders Study, a report commissioned by the Anxiety Disorders Association of America examining the effects of anxiety disorders and everyday stress and anxiety on sleep.
General Stress or Anxiety Interferes With Daily Life
Adults most likely to report daily stress or anxiety are under age 55, especially between the ages of 18 and 24 (91 percent), and those who have children (81 percent) and who are employed (73 percent).
Of those who experience stress or anxiety, 48 percent say it interferes with their activities every day (up from 39 percent in 2005), and women are much more affected than men (56 percent vs. 39 percent). Nearly 72 percent say it interferes at least moderately with their lives, which is up from 67 percent in 2005.
Read more from the Stress & Anxiety Disorders Study.
Your body needs sleep and rest, especially during times of stress. So follow these tips for a good night’s sleep.
Tips for sleeping soundly
Make sleep a priority. Block out seven to
nine hours for a full night of uninterrupted sleep, and try to wake up around the
same time every day, including weekends.
- Establish a regular, relaxing bedtime routine. Avoid stimulating activities like vigorous exercise before going to sleep.
- Try not to watch TV, use the computer, or pay bills immediately before going to bed. Read a book, listen to soft music, or meditate instead.
- Avoid coffee, chocolate, caffeinated soda, or nicotine for at least three hours before bedtime. These are stimulants that can keep you awake.
- Make sure your bedroom is cool, dark, and quiet. Consider using a fan to drown out excess noise, and make sure your mattress and pillows are comfortable.
- Use your bedroom as a bedroom. It should be for sleeping, relaxing, and intimacy only, not for watching TV or doing work.
- Exercise. Regular exercise will help you sleep better, but limit your workouts to mornings and afternoons.
- Get into bed only when you are tired. If you don’t fall asleep within 15 minutes, go to another room and do something relaxing.
- Avoid looking at the clock. This can make you anxious in the middle of the night. Turn the clock away from you.
- Do not take naps. Taking a nap can throw off your body clock. If you are particularly tired and feel you must nap, sleep no more than half an hour.
- Talk to your doctor if you still have problems falling asleep. There may be an underlying physical or psychological problem that may need to be addressed.
- Make sleep a priority. Block out seven to nine hours for a full night of uninterrupted sleep, and try to wake up around the same time every day, including weekends.
PLEASE NOTE: The Anxiety Disorders Association of America (ADAA) does not endorse or promote any specific medications or treatments.