If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably researched thousands of different ways to help you fall asleep, stay asleep, get better sleep and on and on. The list of things to help you achieve that great night of sleep seems to be the same; avoid caffeine at night, turn off your tv or phone before going to sleep, wake up at the same time, etc.
But what all those lists don’t usually cover is how to help when you roll over, look at the clock, see that it’s 4am and think “perfect! I have more time to sleep,” only to have your mind start racing. It may come to no surprise that anxiety and sleep go hand in hand.
But for people with high functioning anxiety (HFA), conventional sleep tips just aren’t enough to get us through.
Even as a high functioning anxiety coach, I still have to make efforts to get my sleep anxiety under control. I’ve been prone to get the “4AM visitor,” as I like to call it, all too often and it can be brutal. It’s one thing to hear your fear Monger during the day. But at night, when our defenses are down, it can seem even more terrifying.
It’s not uncommon that at some point in our lives, everyone will deal with insomnia in one way or another. Some of the most common insomnia symptoms include:
If you’ve raised your hand to any of those, chances are you may struggle with insomnia. People who struggle with insomnia and HFA, may have a similar and yet slightly different experience.
That moment when you briefly wake up in the middle of the night to racing thoughts can be overwhelming. Your mind may drift back to that thing you said at the dinner party that you shouldn’t have said. You may be letting your monger beat you up about the outfit you wore or worry about whether or not what you said to your boss was rude.
HFA and insomnia can cause you to spiral quickly. In fact, they often go hand in hand, especially those with sleep deprivation. Not sleeping can worsen your anxiety and having high anxiety can worsen your sleeping habits. Thus continues the vicious cycle.
Having a good night sleep can be very beneficial to your mental health and HFA. But what do you do when you don’t know how to achieve a restful sleep?
One of the biggest indicators that you may have high functioning anxiety? You know what it’s like to seem calm, cool, and collected on the outside but are internally battling with the constant storm of self doubt, stress, and anxiety. And more often than not, your anxiety may decide to rear its head in the middle of the night.
This internal anxiety can also play a role on how well you sleep. Your HFA may cause you to lie awake with your racing thoughts or you may start to distract yourself rather than fall back asleep.
For me, I sometimes venture down the path of turning on the TV so I don’t have to listen to my 4am visitor. But in the end it just leaves me feeling more exhausted and doesn’t help me actually address the problem.
Just like I teach my clients when dealing with their Monger during the day, I realized that I can do the same thing with my scary 4am visitor that just won’t leave me alone some nights. Rather than letting her beat me up time and time again, I have to stop and ask myself, “Wait? Is this even true?”
That’s when I realized I had the power to stop and practice A.S.K. even in the late hours of the night:
I realized that the very things that I’ve been practicing in my day to day routine I could also do in the middle of the night when I started to worry. Except this time, I really had to learn how to quiet those negative thoughts down faster so I could get back to sleep. Rather than turning on the TV, this strategy helps me to shift my focus onto something other than the monger in my head reminding me of how terrible I am.
It’s okay to check in with yourself during episodes of unrest and anxiousness. I try to take back control over my Monger and drown out the noise by turning my focus onto other things, like:
And watch your 4am monger get quieter and quieter as you drown out the noise. Although this is what works for me at times, it doesn’t mean that coping with HFA and insomnia is simple or easy to overcome. It can take work.
If you notice that you’re struggling with night time mongers and need help walking through it, I offer coaching programs that may help! Dealing with high functioning anxiety can seem scary, especially if you’re trying to do it alone.
If you’re finding it difficult to talk about your HFA, I am here to help you. I’ve designed coach programs to help guide you through your HFA and how to cope with it. Most of my clients realize they’re actually struggling with HFA when they suffer insomnia so if you’re feeling tired and worn down because of night time anxiety, it may be time to get help to finally get a restful night’s sleep.