Saturday, September 29, 2007

Warning: Anxiety Can Cause Insomnia

Lately at my house we have been going to bed earlier because getting up earlier in the cold, dark mornings of fall seems so impossible. Tonight we turned the lights off at 10:00 which is pretty early, especially for a Friday night! However my mind was tired and I LOVE sleeping so I don't mind.

The last little while I have been having problems falling asleep. This has never been the case before. I used to be able to fall asleep anywhere at any time of day. Lately, when I lay down to fall asleep, I feel like I have restless leg syndrome, only its in my legs and my neck and my arms, etc. I can't get comfortable and after 30 seconds in one position I desperately have to rotate because my body is just itching to move. Previously this behavior would continue for a couple hours until sleep finally came over me, but its a horrible battle. Tonight, I got so tired of it I just got out of bed and decided to do something more productive until I got really tired.

I was doing research on insomnia and found this on,
"Insomnia may result from either psychological or physical causes. The most common psychological problems include anxiety, stress, and depression. In fact, insomnia may be an indicator of depression. Many people will have insomnia during the acute phases of a mental illness."
I also came across this at

"The undisputed number one cause of insomnia is excessive stress, anxiety, and depression. Almost everyone has experienced transient insomnia the night before a job interview, big presentation, wedding, or other significant personal event.

Transient insomnia usually passes after the stress-inducing event has been overcome. Chronic insomnia is more serious because it can affect an individual for an extended period of time.

Persistent stress at work or home can lead to chronic insomnia. Anxiety and depressive disorders are another major source for chronic insomnia."

Its so ironic that I love sleeping so much, but I have so much difficulty with it. I struggle to fall asleep and have awful nightmares all night long and wake up feeling like I didn't sleep a wink. Maybe thats why I think I love to sleep, cause when I truly get a good night's sleep, its so rare and wonderful that I want to have more.

Here is another interesting piece of information I found at,
"Insomnia is the perception or complaint of inadequate or poor-quality sleep because of difficulty falling asleep, difficulty maintaining sleep, or waking too early in the morning. These result in the feeling that sleep is not restorative and often are associated with impaired function during the day."
I always thought insomnia was just people that stayed up all night long and never slept. I didn't realize that I suffer so much from it. So right now I am frustrated. Since I am all about self diagnosing myself on the internet (which I don't recommend doing if you suffer from Hypochondria) I wonder if maybe I do have RLS. Here is what I found on the same site mentioned above,
"Restless leg syndrome (RLS) – RLS is an unpleasant tickling, burning, pricking or aching sensations in the legs that are generally only relieved with movement and tend to occur while relaxing in the evening hours. A similar and often overlapping disorder is periodic limb movement of sleep, which are the recurrent movements of the legs during sleep that may cause arousals from sleep."
Is it possible to have those same sensations in areas in addition to your legs? Anyone else have RLS?

Now I don't like labeling myself with these "conditions" for a few reasons. It makes me feel like there is something wrong with me if I have chronic anxiety, chronic insomnia, and what the heck lets throw in RLS while we're at it. Its like I am ordering off of a menu. I also don't like listing everything that I think I may have because it feels like it comes across as a cry for attention when its not. I just like sharing what I am going through in case it can help someone else.

So its now after midnight (I know thats still early for lots of people but its late for me) and I don't know if I should try to go back to bed, if I should just try to fall asleep on the couch, maybe get something to drink I dunno. I don't think anything I do is really going to be a great solution at this point.

But please don't worry about me, its nothing to lose sleep over...

Has anyone else had this or a similar problem? If so any tips? Maybe I can try using them next time.

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Robert said...

I have RLS at times. There's no pattern to it, except that it comes several/many nights in a row & then goes away. I haven't found a cure.

For insomnia, from which (I'm glad to say) I suffer infrequently, I use yoga deep breathing exercises. Always works (for me). Why not look into it?

Dr. Deb said...

I have RLS and have been thinking of getting the meds that are out for it. It interferes often with my sleep. I wish I had more tips, but the ones I generally offer are: No caffeine after 3pm, aromatherapy lavendar, and taking a warm shower/bath before bed.

Anonymous said...

Hi- I just happened upon this website & wanted to let those with RLS know what has worked for me. I too was considering a Rx treatment & am so grateful I didnt! I learned on my own that edema (water retention) was really what was bringing on my RLS & ever since adding a supplement of Potassium Gluconate early in the evening.(I take (3)99 mg tabs) I have not been bothered with it ever since! I dont know if this will be helpful to anyone else, but I was absolutely miserable with my evening RLS symptoms & this has been a godsend for me.

Aimée said...

You are so right about the yoga. I will definately try that next time.

Dr. Deb,
A warm bath with aromatherapy lavendar can probably cure a lot it sounds so nice and relaxing! Do you have a favorite brand that I should try?

Welcome to the blog and thanks for your comment! I hope to hear back from you soon :)

Anonymous said...

Anxiety can quite easily turn into feelings of panic when the symptoms of anxiety become so acute that they are allowed to consume the individual, producing heightened feelings of loss of control. As symptoms are experienced, they seem to feed the fear and, in so doing, they thereby enhance it and - hey presto, panic!

Melissa said...

Im very glad to have read this article. For the past few weeks I have been having the worst trouble going to sleep. Its actually turning 4:30am right now! Normally I love sleep and can fall asleep standing up at any time of the day if I so choose. I do have chronic anxiety and they are related. I've been trying different methods and I can confidently say practicing Yoga helps (yay Hatha!), and a support system from family and friends works even better. Counseling and exercise and yes, a bit of chocolate in your day to make things brighter (youd be surprised how seratonin levels help!!), are the way to go. More than anything, go see a professional for anti anxiety medication. Low doses are commonly used and muscle relaxers and soft tranquilizers for stress induced IBS patients (maybe that could help RLS?), theyre not bad things and youre not crazy for taking them.

Anonymous said...

I am suffering from chronic anxiety and chronic insomnia. I have recently started taking an anti-depressant but I am feeling worse not better. Is it normal to feel like this when you start taking anti-depressants. I am trying meditation, it helps while I am doing it but does not last long. I think I will try some yoga.

Aimée said...

Anti depressants have a lot of side effects that can take weeks to get out of your system. I'm afraid it does feel worse before it gets better :( If you are having any extreme or suicidal thoughts, you should definitely see your doctor as that is a side effect for some and not normal.

Anonymous said...

I have had the same problem with being so sleepy I wanna sleep but when I try to lay down, I lay there sometimes for minutes and sometimes for hours, having this tingling pain in my left arm and leg. It feels kinda like that little snap pain u get when u get a cold chill except it can last hours.
I am Bipolar and have panic attacks but until 20 minutes ago i didn't even think that it could be a panic attack.
I get up walk shake my leg and arm, get a drink anything I can think of to get my mind off it. Bujt it doesn't seem to work. then If by the grace of Gods I get to sleep I can sleep for 16 hours and wake up exhasted.
I never sleep so solid that I wake without remember and Sometimes I have night Terrors. But I've had them since I was a kid and used to sleep great.
this has only been going on the last year since I've gotton worse about even leaving the house.
I've also tried the "relax each toe, then foot then ankle" thing that is so popular with all the articles. Also seeing 4 white walls in my mind and other than that blank.

Anonymous said...

I suffer too from anxiety and cant sleep they have given me zoloft and remeron anti-depressants and havent tried them i am only taking xanax .50 1 a day but still get anxiety every now and then
Dont know what, help

Anonymous said...

I have been taking anti-depressant, Prozac, for years and now at max dose 40mg daily. Started having anxiety issues about 6 weeks ago during a 6 month break of Prozac. Took 4 weeks to feel semi-normal again and was doing really well for 2 weeks; now I am having anxiety episodes again, I have Xanax .25mg prescribed 2x daily. I only take it as needed, but the last 3 days I have taken 3 a day. I don't want to switch meds because I don't want to feel aweful for another month. I was content and really don't have that much stress in my life, so what happened? I am working to find my trigger(s).

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