Alaska Sleep Education Center

Remedies for Sleepless Nights Caused by Grief and Anxiety

Posted by Stefanie Leiter

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on Oct 16, 2019 8:17:00 AM


According to Anxiety and Depression Association of America those who suffer from depression or anxiety claim an increase in their anxiety due to lack of sleep with 52 percent of men and 42 percent of women stating it directly affected their ability to remain focused the following day.

Your social life can also suffer which can lead to depression or increased depression signs. Without quality sleep, the body cannot repair and becomes a state of sleep deprivation that stacks nightly. This leads to a rapid decline of behavioral response including moodiness and irritability.

How to tackle anxiety depends on the underlying event. Grief is a common stem that buries anxiety deep causing insomnia and depression. Thankfully there are a number of remedies that can help chisel away the sleepless nights.

Anxiety and Grief

Grief is the normal internal feeling one experiences in reaction to a loss, while bereavement is the state of experiencing that loss. Research shows 40 percent of bereaved individuals will suffer from an anxiety disorder in the first year after the death of a loved one.

Though nothing can replace the grief felt over the loss of a loved one, Mindfulness and Grief share helpful tips to cope. A secret formula for mourning does not exist for a grieving individual since everyone experiences grief differently. But if you know a loved one who may be experiencing prolonged symptoms, these tips may help them sleep better at night.

  1. Exercise during the day. Taking some time to relieve stress from the body and mind can energize the rest of the day.
  2. Avoid caffeine and alcohol in the evening. If you limit the intake to the afternoon, your body will not metabolize the drinks during bedtime.
  3. Schedule regular massages to help release tension or anxiety.
  4. Create a sleep sanctuary. Dark curtains, oil diffusers, and cool temperature can create the ambiance needed to sleep well.
  5. Keep a grief journal. Journaling for grief allows you to externalize your thoughts and stories. You may also want to keep a sleep journal and pen by your bed, and write down any thoughts or sensations that are keeping you awake.
  6. Relax before bed leaving electronics off. Yoga, meditation, soothing music, and warm baths can help settle your day.

Treating Anxiety

Keeping a journal can be a good place to start so a family doctor or therapist can start the process of your healing emotionally and spiritually from loss.

Melatonin supplements are a natural place many people start. As a hormone that is produced naturally by your body, it signals the brain that it is time to sleep. Melatonin levels naturally rise towards the end of the day with levels falling in the morning.

A disruption in sleep such as jet lag, unusual levels of stress, or an illness may see improvements in sleep quality with a small dose of regular melatonin while transitioning back to a normal sleeping pattern.

Sleeping with anxiety (6)

Melatonin has been proven in studies to increase the total amount of sleep time and reduce the time individuals fall asleep outside their normal sleep patterns; but it should not be a long-term solution to sleep ailments.

Many have heard of the natural wellness remedy of adding oils to the bedroom, but do not know where to begin. Just as different options aid the sense of smell, an oil lasts throughout the night enjoyed for you and your partner.

Lavender is a good place to start. “Several studies show that simply smelling lavender oil for 30 minutes before sleep may be enough to improve the quality of sleep.” With its relaxing scent, the aroma is pleasant and easy to combine with other oils to achieve the perfect mix.

Anxiety medicine may be needed to sway insomnia. The two most common prescribed for mood disorders like anxiety or depression is Lexapro and Zoloft. “These drugs are a type of antidepressant called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). SSRIs work by increasing levels of serotonin, a substance in your brain that helps maintain your mood.”

Both are prescribed to treat depression and generalized anxiety disorder while Zoloft covers other mental health conditions. A full list of side effects are on which unfortunately include sleeping troubles.

CBT: What It is and How to Treat It

Defined by Psychology Today, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that treats problems and boosts happiness by modifying dysfunctional emotions, behaviors, and thoughts resting on the idea that thoughts and perceptions influence behavior.

CBT can help control or eliminate negative thoughts or worries caused by insomnia. With the practice of good sleep habits and avoiding patterned behaviors, certain techniques can be valuable in treating insomnia. Common practices helpful with CBT can be found online.

Reaffirming statements alone can positively alter your cognitive behavior like starting a sleep journal to write down your immediate thoughts.

A sleep study may be the best route to link sleepiness. Though the type of sleep study varies by a patient’s symptoms, healthcare providers will monitor your sleep either in a lab or at your home using portable home sleep apnea testing equipment.

Completing a sleep study can also enhance your quality of life from anxiety which already is most likely taking away a full night’s rest.

If you live in Alaska and are ready to take back your sleep, contact The Alaska Sleep Clinic and receive a free 10-minute phone consultation with a sleep educator who can help you determine if a sleep study is right for you.

Alaska Sleep Clinic is the only sleep lab in Alaska with a licensed clinical psychologist who specializes in sleep disorders, Dr. Angie Randazzo.

Dr. Angie has 25 years of experience treating all types of sleep disorders, including insomnia, delayed sleep phase, sleep apnea, shift work and daytime fatigue/sleepiness, using behavioral techniques.

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