Getting a good night’s sleep allows your body to recharge. It makes you feel fresh for your next day’s grind. However, if you’re suffering from anxiety at night or are relatively stressed due to a major life change, you might find yourself having stress dreams.
These dreams do not let you sleep restfully and may make you feel unpleasant upon waking up. Along with keeping you up at night, they also end up increasing your worry, making you have a constant feeling that something bad will happen soon.
If you can relate to this, you might be wondering what the relationship is between your anxiety and sleep. Luckily, in this guide, we will talk about it all, from stress dreams to why you suffer from anxiety at night.
In addition, we’ll discuss some of the natural remedies to help you sleep quickly and soundly. Curious to know what they are? Keep on reading!
Do Dreams Affect Your Sleep?
Scientists don’t clearly understand why we dream or the mechanism that goes behind the entire process.
However, experts do suggest that dreaming is a part of sleeping, and it might be linked to emotional processing, effective thinking, and building memories. Research shows that almost every person spends around two hours dreaming at night.
This might come as a shock to you, but nearly all dreams happen around rapid eye movement sleep. This is the time when your brain is most active.
According to a 2018 study published in the Journal of Sleep Science, REM stimulates certain parts of your brain that are crucial for your health and well-being.
Therefore, dreaming may reflect that you have a good sleeping regimen.
However, on the other hand, dreaming isn’t always a good sign, especially if you’re having nightmares or your dreams are causing you anxiety at night. While some dreams negatively affect your sleep, others may traumatize or scare you.
Effect of Nightmares On Sleep
Having a nightmare once in a blue moon isn’t concerning as it does not have a considerable effect on your sleep quality or duration.
On the contrary, if you’re having consistent nightmares, this could be an alarming signal. For one, you’ll have trouble falling asleep because you’re scared of things you will see while sleeping. Second, you may likely be a victim of a sleep disorder.
People with this disorder may have restless sleep with more awakenings and greater difficulty getting back to sleep. In addition, they may avoid sleep because of their fear of disturbing dreams, increasing their risk of insomnia and sleep deprivation.
It is characterized by the occurrence of nightmares that not only interrupt the sufferer’s sleep but also their daytime mood.
If you suffer from a nightmare disorder, you’ll have a hard time dozing off and getting restless sleep. Furthermore, you will awaken more times during the night.
Unfortunately, many people end up avoiding sleep altogether due to the fear of upsetting or disturbing dreams. Moreover, many also avoid it as they always end up suffering from severe anxiety at night.
As a result, people with nightmare disorders often are at the risk of suffering from insomnia and are usually sleep-deprived.
If you’re frequently having nightmares, are constantly suffering from anxiety and sleep insomnia, it’s a sign that you need to talk to a doctor. Besides disturbing your nighttime routine, nightmares will also impact your day, putting you in a sulky mood and making you jumpy.
That’s why it’s crucial to get help as soon as you can. A doctor will help you identify the actual cause of anxiety at night and stress dreams. Moreover, they will give you treatment to ease your pain by giving you medicines such as CBD for sleep.
Why Do Stress Dreams Happen?
While nightmares are scary and often upsetting, stress dreams leave you with anxiety at night. In fact, they’re a double-edged sword, being both a cause and effect of anxiety.
In simple words, a stress dream is caused by stress and may lead to even more anxiety and tension.
You don’t only feel panicked at night or when you wake up after a dream, but the sensation may last for the whole day, making you feel uneasy for many hours, or worse, days.
Here are some causes of stress dreams:
- Stress or fear of something
- A significant life change that has caused you immense distress
- Substance use such as alcohol, drugs, etc
- Disrupted sleep or insomnia
- Mental illness such as schizophrenia
You might be wondering to yourself what really is the relationship between anxiety and sleep and how it triggers stress dreams.
To understand why they occur, you must know that your brain is active even when you’re sleeping. During this time, the brain does different activities, such as the upkeep of essential body reactions.
Experts suggest that the brain might also be involved in memory creation during this time.
If you were stressed out during the day due to any reason, it’s likely to transcend into your dreams, too, making you have a stress dream.
However, it’s not a given that you’ll have stress dreams if you’re anxious. But anxiety can definitely trigger these dreams. According to a 2014 study, people with a generalized anxiety disorder had more bad dreams than the study subjects without stress.
Along with depression and anxiety at night, these individuals had higher levels of both during the day and overall low life quality.
In other words, anxiety and sleep both have a reverse effect on each other. At the same time, stress and nightmares feed into one another by creating a very unpleasant cycle.
Natural Remedies to Help Sleep
Now that you know how stress dreams affect your sleep, you must want to learn how to combat this problem. Fortunately, there are many natural remedies to help sleep better.
If you wake up from a stress dream and your body refuses to go back to sleep mode, you should do a relaxing activity. Make sure it’s not something that completely wakes you up.
Instead, you can try one of the following things:
- Listen to ASMR videos
- Listen to a podcast (go for a soothing and calming option rather than something that requires constant attention)
- Play low, quiet music
- A warm drink (chamomile tea or a cup of milk)
- A slow-paced book
- Breathing exercises
These techniques will help you relax, and soon you’ll stop suffering from anxiety at night and be able to sleep soundly.
Forget the Clock
If you wake up in the middle of the night and are unable to sleep, looking at the clock again and again won’t help at all. It will only make you more anxious about the fact that you’re not getting enough sleep to be well-rested the next day.
As more time passes, you’ll get more frustrated with yourself, making it even harder for your body to rest.
Instead, only check the time once when you wake up. After that, don’t look at the time on your phone or the clock.
Since stress dreams are a result of excessive daytime stress, it helps to have healthy stress-relieving habits. If something, in particular, is bothering you, talk to someone you trust. Spend time with your loved ones.
Exercising Is The Key
There is no doubt in admitting that exercising daily has countless benefits, which also include improving sleep.
As shocking as it may sound, but adding just thirty minutes of exercise to your daily routine may do wonders at night. One of them is making you sleep better by reducing anxiety at night.
Here are some of the highly effective exercises:
- Brisk walking
However, it is to note that you should try doing them at least one hour before you hit the sheets.
This is because exercise results in the release of endorphins and increased body temperature. Both can lead to waking your body up rather than making you fall asleep.
Have a Relaxing Bedtime Routine
What you do before bed also affects your dreams. Make sure you stay away from the TV or the phone before going to bed. Instead, take a relaxing bath, listen to music, or read a book to calm your body.
Since you are now aware of the relationship between anxiety and sleep, you can easily control it with meditation.
Meditation is a really popular natural remedy when it comes to treating insomnia. This is because it is a practice for both body and mind.
It lets you focus on one thing and doesn’t let your mind wander to other thoughts. Thus, meditation helps in calming nerves and leaves you feeling relaxed.
CBD For Sleep
If you still cannot stop having stress dreams try taking CBD for sleep purposes.
While it has numerous other benefits, one of its greatest benefits is that it improves sleep quality.
According to the 2019 research published in the Permanente Journal, taking CBD for sleep helps users have an uninterrupted good night’s sleep by reducing anxiety.
Stress dreams can be concerning, especially if they’re affecting our daytime chores and activities.
Thus, you should try natural remedies to reduce suffering from anxiety at night, and start a relaxing nighttime routine. If things don’t get better, speak to a professional.