Best Sleep Aids for Adults with Anxiety

Best Sleep Aids for Adults with Anxiety

Insomnia and sleep issues are common in people with anxiety. Anxiety causes the body to be in a constant state of arousal, making it difficult to fall and stay asleep.

Fortunately, there are some effective over-the-counter and natural sleep aids that can help adults with anxiety get the restful sleep they need. In this blog article, we share all types of natural that will help with you anxiety as adult.

What Causes Sleep Problems in People With Anxiety?

Anxiety activates the body’s fight-or-flight response, which kicks the nervous system into high alert. This state of hyperarousal increases vigilance and primes the body to respond to any perceived threats.

Unfortunately, this constant revved-up state makes it extremely challenging for people with anxiety to wind down at night and fall asleep.

Several factors contribute to insomnia in those with anxiety disorders:

  • Racing thoughts and rumination keep the mind overactive when it should be quieting down for sleep. The endless cycle of worrying thoughts sabotages the ability to relax.
  • Performance anxiety about not being able to sleep creates stress that makes it even harder to fall asleep.
  • Physiological arousal from the activated nervous system leads to increased heart rate, rapid breathing, muscle tension, and adrenaline surges in the body. This prevents the physical relaxation needed to transition into sleep.
  • Hypervigilance to bodily sensations such as a pounding heart, tingling, elevated body temperature further disrupts sleep.

Over time, the sleep deprivation caused by anxiety can actually worsen anxiety. Healthy, restorative sleep is essential for keeping anxiety under control and managing symptoms effectively.

young man cant sleep steering at ceiling

Signs That Anxiety Is Impacting Your Sleep

You may have an anxiety-related sleep disorder if you regularly experience the following sleep issues:

  • Difficulty falling asleep at your regular bedtime due to racing thoughts when you lay down
  • Frequently waking up during the night and having trouble falling back asleep
  • Feeling unrefreshed and groggy even after a full night’s sleep
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness, persistent fatigue, and low energy levels
  • Difficulty concentrating, cognitive fog, and mood changes resulting from poor sleep

If you chronically have these insomnia symptoms in addition to anxiety, it’s important to talk to your doctor or mental health professional.

Treating the root cause of anxiety can resolve many of the resulting sleep disturbances. But in the interim, sleep aids and good sleep hygiene can help normalize sleep-wake cycles.

Best OTC Sleep Aids for Adults with Anxiety

Some over-the-counter medications can help with sleep onset and sleep maintenance in people with anxiety. These include:

1. Antihistamines

Medications like diphenhydramine (Benadryl) and doxylamine succinate (Unisom) have sedating effects that induce drowsiness. They can help you fall asleep faster.

2. Melatonin

Melatonin is a naturally produced hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. Melatonin supplements taken 30 minutes before bedtime can help with sleep initiation. Start with low doses of 0.5 mg to 3 mg.

3. Valerian Root

Valerian is an herb with mild sedative effects that increase gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) levels in the brain. GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that has calming, anxiety-reducing effects.

4. Magnesium

Magnesium deficiency can contribute to insomnia. Magnesium supplements or magnesium-rich Epsom salt baths before bed can promote muscle relaxation and sleepiness.

5. L-Tryptophan

Tryptophan is an amino acid that gets converted into serotonin and melatonin in the body. It has mild sleep-inducing effects. L-tryptophan supplements may help with sleep onset.

Talk to your doctor before taking any new medications or supplements, even OTC products. They can advise you on potential interactions with medications you’re already taking for anxiety.

young man sleeping

Best Natural Sleep Remedies for Anxiety

In addition to medication, incorporating some relaxing rituals into your evenings can prep both the mind and body for restful sleep:

  • Take a warm bath with magnesium flakes or Epsom salt – the heat relaxes muscles while magnesium promotes sleepiness
  • Sip on a cup of relaxing herbal tea like chamomile, lavender, passionflower, or valerian root – compounds in these herbs have mild sedative effects
  • Diffuse essential oils like lavender oil or blends targeted for anxiety and stress – the aromatherapy effects are calming
  • Listen to soft, soothing music or meditative bedtime stories – gives your mind something peaceful to focus on
  • Practice a few restorative yoga poses or gentle stretches before bed – yoga reduces anxiety and induces relaxation
  • Give yourself a gentle hand or foot massage with lotion – the physical sensation helps quiet the nervous system

Adhering to good sleep hygiene habits like limiting screen time before bed, reducing caffeine intake, keeping the bedroom dark and cool, and going to bed at the same time every night sets you up for more restful sleep.

healthy sleep concept

Lifestyle Remedies for Anxiety Insomnia

Along with sleep aids and remedies, making certain sustainable lifestyle changes can help tackle anxiety and improve sleep disturbances from the root cause. Some anxiety management techniques that can also aid sleep include:

  • CBT-I (cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia) – targets thought patterns interfering with sleep
  • Regular exercise and yoga – relieves anxiety, fatigues the muscles, and regulates circadian rhythms
  • Mindfulness meditation and deep breathing – reduces stress and quiets the mind
  • Maintaining a sleep diary to identify patterns – helps modify unhelpful habits
  • Cognitive restructuring around negative thoughts – alleviates anxiety triggers
  • Exposure therapy and facing fears – desensitizes you to worry triggers
  • Reducing overall stress levels through adequate self-care – prevents anxiety from getting out of control

Consulting with a therapist can help you work through anxiety triggers and build resilience through implementing healthier long-term coping strategies. Getting anxiety under control makes a tremendous difference in reestablishing healthy sleep patterns.

When to Seek Medical Help for Anxiety and Insomnia

If OTC sleep aids, natural remedies, and lifestyle changes don’t help, talk to your doctor about prescription medications. They may prescribe:

  • Benzodiazepines like lorazepam or alprazolam for severe anxiety and insomnia
  • Sedating antidepressants like trazodone or amitriptyline
  • Non-benzo hypnotic medications like zolpidem (Ambien) or eszopiclone (Lunesta)

Prescription sedatives come with a risk of side effects and dependence. Use them temporarily along with pursuing therapy and self-help techniques.

Rule out underlying conditions like sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, hormonal imbalances, or other primary sleep disorders with a sleep study. Chronic insomnia warrants an evaluation by a sleep specialist.

Final Words,

Anxiety and insomnia often co-occur and execrate each other. Breaking this cycle with proven remedies, healthy sleep habits, and anxiety-calming lifestyle changes can improve sleep.

Talk to your doctor if symptoms persist despite your best efforts. Treating anxiety holistically and getting better sleep leads to an improved sense of well-being. Learn here more about better sleeping and sleep disorder help and tips.