Depression and anxiety's impact on sleep maintenance

Discuss the effects of depression and anxiety on sleep, and sleep maintenance, with the Sleepio Community.

Posted 6 Aug 2012 at 3:46 PM
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  • Sleepio Member

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    Session 1

    I've been looking through the community forums but I could not see this specifically mentioned, but may have missed it, in which case apologies.

    My sleep issues seem to be closely tied to my general anxiety (like a lot of people i'm sure), but the particular thing I struggle with I don't see many people talking about and am unsure whether it's symptomatic of something else. So I would be interested to hear whether this is 'normal' or common with Insomnia.

    The issue only seems to occur when I'm sleep deprived. Basically I can get myself feeling calm and ready to sleep but every time I am about to nod off or I can start to feel the pull into the next phase of sleep I am jolted awake. Like a jolt back into wide awakeness, sometimes with a surge of anxiety/panic and sometimes without. It's not a hynic jerk, more just in the mind. This will happen over and over again, some nights it can occur literally around hundred times and I don't sleep. This is the thing that is causing me great distress. It only happens when I am overtired, so if I have a bad night the next night this problem starts and so it continues. The only way I have managed to break it thus far is prescription medication. It's horrendous and very frustrating. I just don't see it talked about very often which I find odd. Any advice on this would be massively appreciated.

    Anyone else experience this? Any ideas on best way to solve.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Session 5

    Hello,

    I have been working through the sleepio plan and I am still struggling. After working through the discussions, it seems most people with depression and anxiety are struggling with insomnia and the course is geared toward that. However, I take antidepressants (an SNRI) and I believe it has been affecting my sleep in that I have an incredibly difficult time getting out of bed in the morning. I have tried switching to different anti-depressants but they don't work well enough. I can sleep 10+ hours and still not be able to get out of bed and easily fall back to sleep. The sleepio course does not seem to be geared toward this issue so I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions or was also dealing with this? If anyone has strategies that they have successfully used to get out of bed that would be much appreciated. Thanks in advance.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    I am New in sleepio, last 8 months ago I started having anxiety now and again after seeing GP she gave me Mirtazaping 15mg mg my anxiety from now and again became every evening GP increased my dose to 30mg and after taking it my anxiety effected whole my life and GP said pills made yo worse go and see psychotherapy talking therapy but she already referred me to see psychotherapist and psychotherapist increased Mirtazaping from 30mg to 45mg after taking it from same night I stopped sleeping I can't sleep a wink and sleeping and anxiety pills do not work and I used to sleep 8 to 10 horse I was a good sleeper since I can't sleep level my anxiety and depression are very very high I am in very dark place at the moment,
    anyone can help me
    I really appreciate
    Rezo

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    My initial problem was anxiety and depression which was brought on by chronic stress through work and life adjustment problems being a parent. Did not have insomnia at first but it seemed to get worse probably as a result of going through various trials of prescription antidepressant and sleeping pill medications. I never found they really resolved any of my issues and I am convinced they even started my insomnia.

    I now generally focus on taking supplements but even that has been a battle as its hard to tell if they really help or not and its very expensive, but at least I don't feel the side effects.

    I now feel its mainly the sleep issue itself that is the cause of most of my mood issues as it makes my life more difficult to deal with. Started this course but part of me feels quite anxious about it as its a new routine and I have tried so many other things before that have not helped much.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Session 5

    Hi All

    I've just completed my second session on Sleepio and just wondered if anyone suffers more from dropping off to sleep rather than waking up early?? I find that no matter how tired I am I just can't drop off…driving me crazy…I can go to bed about 11ish when I'm feeling really tired, I read for a short while until my eyes start to close so I settle down to sleep but still can't drop off, no matter how tired I am. It can take me a few hours to drop off and this ramps up my anxiety no end…almost end up having a panic attack. Anyone else similar?? xx

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Session 5

    Hi GIJones

    I've just been reading through the comments on here and when I got to yours my heart skipped a beat…. I am exactly the same as you describe!! I have anxiety and have been dealing with this for years. Sleep used to be a thing I could do easily but no more! I had a bad bout of anxious thinking after lockdown started and then found that I couldn't drop off. Like you say in your comment, I get sleepy and drowsy and once I get to the point of drifting onto sleep it's like a big mental jolt and then I'm wide awake again. This can happen for hours and like you I find this is something not really talked about and I also find it hard to explain to people (especially those who have no trouble sleeping ) I'm thinking maybe it's a kind of anxiety/panic attack?? What do you think? Would love to keep in touch so we can maybe suport each other with this issue?

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    I am sharing my experience of getting a sound sleep which I wasn't able to get before due to non stoppable thoughts. I listen to any calm audio book that keeps me away from my own thoughts but still in my listening mode. After sometime I gradually fall asleep without trying.

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Graduate

    I think it would be a good idea to ask your question of the weekly expert. If you get in quick you will get an answer this evening (UK time). Difficulty in getting to sleep is not a regular thing for me but when it is, like Kan I go for an audio distraction – in my case BBC Radio4/World service. The key here is to turn the volume so low that I have to lie perfectly still to hear it.

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Graduate

    Hi Louise,
    You may find that GIJones is no longer on the programme unfortunately l. I have clicked on the name and gone over to their profile page and they were last her in September last year. There are many sleepios who struggle to fall asleep. You could do as Peter kindly suggests and either use some audio distraction to nod off and also click on the Community button at the top of the page and go to the link to the Live Doctor session for this evening and post a question.
    As you are only in Session 2, I want you to know that there will be a complete change for you when you start Session 3l. The prof will use all the data from your first two weeks of Sleep Diaries to give you your Sleep Restriction time = the time you are allowed in bed sleeping. It might end up that you have to stay up a lot later than you currently do. I used to go to bed around ten pm then read for half an hour or until my eyes were sleepy – sometimes I’d sleep, other times it would be nearly two o’clock before I could nod off or I'd just get up and have no sleep in bed at all. Then my SR start was 1.00 am!!! I struggled to stay awake!!! But I stuck at it and gave the programme my best shot and apart from minimal awakenings, I get a decent night's sleep.
    It’s taken a while but the effort you put in from Session 3 makes a huge difference.
    Lying awake worrying just causes more worry!! Better not to stay in bed so the prof and the team have developed the QHR – which will be explained in your next session with the prof. It’s the quarter of an hour rule.
    One thing to remember is natural sleepers just get into bed and don’t try, don’t struggle- they just sleep. So that’s one of the things you have to relearn too 80)
    You can reply here or you can click on a name in blue to respond and you get taken to the profile page of that person. If you leave a message on your own profile page, it gets seen by lots of sleepios on the rolling banner on the community page and you may get more responses too.

    Good luck in Session 3 and we’re here if you need more help, Louise.
    Best sleepio wishes!
    Kurly :)

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Graduate

    Hi KAN
    Great to know you’re doing so well getting to sleep using the calm apps. Have you tried listening to them in your wind down time then moving to your bed to sleep or do you just do them in bed?
    Well done anyway and thank you for letting us know.
    Do cut and paste your message on your own profile page then many more sleepios will see it on the rolling banner on the community page too and that will help others. Not as many sleepios use all these articles but they will see the note on the rolling banner and may respond too.
    You’re nearly at the last session of the programme but do keep using all the facilities here on the website and clocking in with the prof to see how things are going and keep a check on your sleep regime. And when you reach near or over 90% SE the prof will give you extra minutes to sleep!! Always exciting to have 15 minutes extra!!
    Best of luck and sleep well!
    Kurly :)

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Graduate

    Hi Louise,
    I saw your post and I sort of understand what you mean. Different but I was OK going to sleep at first, then woke up after an hour or two and the problem started. All the anxious thoughts multiplied with the addition of “I've got to go back to sleep” which became a bigger and bigger issue. I would find as I started to almost manage to go to sleep I'd get stressed and wake up again. I explained it to my Psychotherapist as almost like having a sub-conscious voice being an over enthusiastic coach telling me I had to do it and panicking me.
    Kurly describes what you will do in Session 3 and, as I'm now coming to the end of Session 4, I've done it. I'm finding some of The Prof's techniques really working and feel I'm starting to get on top of this aspect of my sleep problems at least – others still a work in progress. In turn, as I feel I'm getting somewhere I'm naturally becoming less stressed about not going back to sleep.
    I hope you find them equally helpful and wish you good luck.
    Andrew

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Session 4

    Since I was a child I would not drop off to sleep. My ADD brain gets going on too many thought trains and won’t be quiet so I can fall asleep. Add in anxiety to the wild thought trains and I just can’t stay asleep or fall asleep easily.

    I’m hoping Sleepio can help me redirect these thought trains for better sleep.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Session 4

    I forget to mention I also have deperession and GAD to fuel my ADD thought trains at night. These don’t impact my days. Only when I try to fall asleep.

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Graduate

    Good evening bikertigerz,
    You have got your hands full with ADD, depression and GAD...and you don’t do things by halves do you?! :)

    It’s no wonder you have difficulty getting to sleep. Do you find that once you have gone to sleep you are able to remain asleep til it’s time to get up naturally, or are you awakened in the night too?

    There are many tools on the Sleepio programme to help us get to sleep and stay asleep for longer periods and generally be more relaxed about sleep in general.

    I am imagining that because you are busy during the day, with work maybe, that you don’t find your racing mind affects you the same as when you lie down quietly to get to sleep? It is then that most of us start to worry if something is bothering us or we are stressed – when the house is quiet.

    It’s hard to give you some of the tools just yet as you have only just done Session 1, but I was wondering, do you do any relaxation during the day or evening? Any exercise to help you feel physically tired which then promotes good sleep?
    It maybe the perfect time for you to try some new exercises! 8))

    Other things that can have so much benefit are things like meditation, mindfulness, and various breathing techniques – and they often cross over into each other's purpose. Breathing, obviously, appears naturally in everything, but there are different forms of breathing techniques that do help many Sleepios.

    I use the Wim Hof method during the day as it is quite energetic and really gets the flow through your whole self. Yoga, mindfulness and meditation all use gentle breathing.

    During the first two weeks of Sleepio, there doesn’t appear to be much happening apart from you complete your Sleep Diaries every day, so it might be worth you exploring one or two of the suggestions above, so you have a more calm and relaxed time getting to bed and using deep gentle breathing to lull yourself off to sleep.

    In mindfulness, you are taught to notice the thoughts that appear, acknowledge them, but then let them go as if they are on clouds drifting by and then you bring your attention back to your breathing again.

    Do have a try at one of the online YouTube videos and see if any of the above suggestions help.

    Best wishes
    Kurly :)

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Session 4

    Kurly,

    Thanks for the reply. There are days that falling back asleep is as easy as getting comfortable again. Other days, it is like staring at a blank wall with no idea which way to turn to move forward.

    I have tried meditation, but with an ADD train brain the thoughts can go off in some wild directions and I feel like I have no control of where they go. I have used, and still try to use, meditation audio books and hypnosis audio books to help focus my brain at night. For the longest time they worked well, but they have become less effective at helping me recently. As for melatonin, before menopause and chemo for cancer it was a good tool. Now, due to hormone and chemical changes in my brain, all it does is keep me awake.

    I have done various breathing activities related to my audio books. They work, to a point.

    I’m hoping to find ways to help gain some skills to guide my brain train. I know I can’t just “turn it off” or tell it to “shut up” as some have suggested I try. That only makes it go in that direction instead.

    I am working to regain some order in my home so I can start doing yoga, Pilates, Zumba or other types of exercise. I was going to the gym after work (1:30am) and getting in an hour of workout then coming home to cool down and go to bed within 30 to 45 minutes. I slept better after a workout, but I can’t wear a mask when working out due to exercise induced asthma. So either I workout at home, or ????

    I will look for mindfulness videos and see what interests me. Thanks for the suggestion.

    Bikertigerz

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Graduate

    Hi Bikertigerz,
    Thank you for getting back to me. Sleep is a nightmare for all of us here on Sleepio, so I feel we need to help each other as much as possible.
    There are many tools that will be introduced over the next five weeks that will hopefully help you regain some better quality sleep and sleep for longer periods.
    It’s not an easy course and when you get to session 3 and the Sleep Restriction (SR) starts, lots of sleepios find that really hard and quite exhausting.

    You said you’ve tried meditation and your thoughts go off in all directions, the same can be said for mindfulness but you are encouraged to let the thoughts come and go and bring in your attention back to your breath…so it may be worth exploring.

    You said you used to go to the gym after work around 1.30 am??!!! Eek what on earth do you do to not finish work til late? Is it shift work?
    The prof and the Live Doctor's usually advise we don’t do any strenuous exercise too close to bedtime…Are you able to go to the gym, (once they reopen) before work?

    You mentioned melatonin…I presume that was taking it as a supplement? One of the things I have been reading up about is the sun's light and it’s effect on our circadian rhythm. My SR finishes at 6.00 am and I get up straight away and either go for a run or I do my exercises in the garden to get as much sunlight or cloudy daylight…whichever is there!! This not only resets our internal body clocks, but also starts the production of melatonin naturally, and it keeps building up til sunset ready for the that night's sleep.

    Oh my you have been through such a lot what with cancer, menopause as well as having ADD and GAD, I’m sorry you have more than your fair share to cope with.

    If you like, you can go onto the Community page and scroll down to where the articles are and you’ll see the Live Doctor session for this Wednesday evening (BST) and post questioning to the doctor. The doctors are psychologists not GP's so they won’t be able to advise you on medication.

    I can’t think that someone telling you to ‘turn off' the brain train is going to work…they obviously have no idea what it’s like!

    I hope you can have a revamp at home….it’s always good to make a clear, defined space dedicated to your interests, then you are more likely practise and achieve your goals.
    The same goes for your bedroom. Clearing it of clutter and gadgets that might be tempting to use, is a good idea and you can just sleep there!
    I think the prof covers that in session one or two.
    Keep in touch and I’ll help if I can. If you haven’t heard from me within a day or so, click on my name and you’ll get taken to my profile page and you can leave me a message there 8))
    Wishing you well,
    Kurly :)

  • Sleepio Member

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    Session 1

    My anxiety is caused by thinking up problems which may or may not be true but these problems are not really important to me which is weired but this causes anxiety and then my nose because lightly painful and then more anxiety and then more and panic hence no sleep.

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Graduate

    Hi Alansleep,
    I have left you a message on your profile page – sorry I hadn’t seen this message here before today 8(

    Best sleepio wishes

    Kurly ;)

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Graduate

    Hi Louise
    I’ve only just started and completed my first session but I have exactly the same problem and find that some nights I just can’t drop off! I just spent a more or less sleepless night tossing and turning and feeling more and more stressed about getting no sleep ! I finally slept at about 5 am but woke up again at 6.30 ! I now seem to have the added problem of having to repeatedly look at the time so I can complete the sleep diary ! Just hope the course is going to help me as am feeling wrung out this morning!

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    Hi. Before I came on the sleepio app I just couldn't get to sleep,Went to doctors he gave me sleeping tablets which did work but on the nights I didn't take them I had no sleep at all.
    I have finished the sleepio course which has helped alot the trouble I have now I wake up after about two hours go back to sleep for another 2 hours then I can't get back to sleep which I still do the QHR so I am awake from about 3.30am. I know it's early days I just want to know will this improve as time goes on. Thanks

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