Are you somebody who struggles to sleep well and ends up waking up exhausted in the morning rather than refreshed? Do you find that you often have vivid stress dreams which can at times disrupt your sleep in the middle of the night?
If you are someone who also struggles with depression, anxiety or (C)PTSD, then this will no doubt have an impact on your quality of sleep.
Both anxiety & depression, involve a thinking style known as ruminating. Ruminating means that we go over the same thoughts over and over again,without any resolution. These thoughts are usually negative and if they aren’t resolved with some sort of action, they will then possibly play out in our dreams at night.
Apparently is has been stated that a memory is composed of a situation or thought, the emotions experienced from that situation or thought and then the actions taken. If something happened during the day for example, that was upsetting but you weren’t able to resolve the situation in some way, then this will most likely linger until you go to bed. Since ruminating means that our thoughts and emotions are stuck in a repetitive loop, we will then most likely have an anxiety dream, in which we will try and find a resolution to our initial problem. Our mind just isn’t able to switch off properly until our problem has been solved.
So basically, if you have had a stressful day and there is still stuff that needs to be resolved, you will then most likely be doing this in your sleep as well. Since stress and anxiety can be exhausting during the day, then it is pretty similar at night too.If the brain doesn’t get a chance to ‘switch off’ or relax at night, then you can understand why the quality of your sleep is compromised.
This causes a vicious cycle which looks a bit like this :
Worrying/Rumination → Poor sleep quality → Increase in stress during the day & trouble coping → Worrying/Rumination → Poor quality sleep .. etc
Too much ruminating can lead to feeling helpless. If you are too focused on the problem you are ruminating about, you tend to get stuck and this affects your actual problem solving skills.
A few tips to calming your worrying mind at night:
- Try and resolve the problem before going to bed (if this is possible).
- Talk to a friend or family member about your worries (A different point of view might do wonders)
- Write down your troublesome thought/s on a piece of paper or type up a document on the computer..This might help you find a solution, by seeing your thoughts clearly written in front of you..
- Another thing you can do is write a priority list (if your worries are work related). By organising your time and managing your tasks into more urgent, less urgent etc..this might help you relax more.
- Think about what is in your control and what isn’t..If it isn’t in your control, then try to ‘let it go’..
- If you are still not able to sleep, use lavender oil on your pillow and find some self-hypnosis tracks you can listen to while lying in bed..
What are your thoughts on this? Are you someone who suffers with ruminating and poor quality sleep? Do you also suffer with a mental illness? How often would you say you have anxiety dreams on average? Twice a week or more?
Love Athina ♥
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