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The 2 a.m. Anxiety Wake Up Call

Cj Mackey
 


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2:30 a. m. on the dot, as though an alarm has just gone off by my bedside, my eyes fly open and my heart races. I haven't had a bad dream, and noises haven't drifted into my unconsciousness. I am simply wide awake from the anxious thoughts that circulate through my mind. It will be hours before I tire enough to fall asleep again, typically an hour before I must get up, feeling as exhausted as if I had no sleep. And the more I worry over the lack of sleep, the more elusive it will become. This pattern has become familiar, and appears only when my anxiety over an event, a job, etc. has become elevated. But the following tips have helped me to control this sleeplessness when my anxiety and insomnia flair up.

Sleep Medication - while I use sleep medication sparingly, sometimes it is necessary to help you get back into a normal sleeping pattern. Unfortunately if you aren't getting consistent sleep, you'll find yourself feeling tired at 6 p. m. , fall asleep early, only to wake again in the middle of the night. Prescription medications like Xanax or Ambien can help you sleep through the entire night. But avoid over using as you can become dependent upon them.

Distract Yourself - sometimes just getting your mind to think of other things besides your current worries will allow you to relax enough to go to sleep. Make sure you pick something that you aren't too interested in, like a movie you've been wanting to see, otherwise it may have the opposite effect and keep you awake. I find listening to an audiobook takes my mind off whatever I'm anxious about and I drift off to sleep as I listen to the narrator.

Exercise - doing something vigorous like bike riding, running or tennis during the day can help make you feel more tired at night. I find it helpful too to do something during the point of the day where I feel the most tired and most inclined to want to take a nap. While I have to push myself to do so, I soon feel re-energized and can make it until bed time.

Get up - this seems counter intuitive to trying to get back to sleep. But I've found that instead of worrying in bed, getting up and doing mundane household chores, like folding laundry for a few minutes, once again relaxes me and gets me tired enough to fall back asleep.

Anxiety is an ongoing struggle, and you should consult your doctor or psychiatrist whenever you are experiencing increases in symptoms like insomnia. But getting a good night's sleep and waking up rested and refreshed will put you in a better frame of mind and body to deal with your anxiety.

About Author : C. J. Mackey is a working mother of three, balancing a full time career while taking an active role in her children's lives. She has an advanced degree in engineering and over twenty years making technology decisions for fortune 500 companies. She has always been passionate about writing and started contributing to Yahoo! Voices in December 2010. For more professional information you can visit at http://cjmackeypress.com/

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