Navigating Sleep Anxiety: How I Found My Way Back to Deep Rest

How to find My the Way Back to Deep Rest

Sleep is one of those things we often take for granted until it’s elusive. As a mother of four, I’ve faced significant challenges to my sleep pattern, some of which eventually led to developing sleep anxiety. After my twins were born, sleep became a scarce and precious commodity: with three children under the age of 2, including baby twins and a toddler going through a sleep regression, my nights became an endless cycle of feeding, soothing, changing, and worrying.

The rare moments I found myself with a few precious hours to sleep, the sleep just wouldn’t come. I found myself lying in bed, exhausted yet restless, mind racing with thoughts and worries. I feared not being able to sleep despite needing it so much. This fear soon grew into a beast of its own, resulting in severe sleep anxiety.

I had never felt something so unsettling, disturbing, and scary before. This experience, fueled by hormonal changes and extreme stress, was new, intense, and overwhelming.

Fast forward to today, six years later, it has been quite a journey. A journey of understanding, acceptance, and learning. I still have my battles with sleep anxiety, but I’ve learned to befriend this challenge. Here are a few things that have helped me manage my sleep anxiety:

  1. I’ve learned that the process of making peace with sleep begins during the day. It’s a combination of your daily activities and the state of your body, particularly your hormonal “cocktail”.
  2. Your nervous system requires cues to follow your circadian rhythm. These cues start as soon as you wake up with sunlight, outdoor activities, movement, and a proper wind-down routine as the day ends.
  3. I’ve found that medicines can be a helpful aid in this journey. They are not a sign of weakness but rather allies to help manage your sleep anxiety. It’s essential, however, to use the right medicines in the right way, or they could worsen the situation.
  4. Acceptance has been a powerful tool. When anxiety does creep in, I remind myself that it’s okay to have a sleepless night. I tell myself that I am resilient, that humans have evolved to handle occasional sleepless nights, and that a few rough nights – or even a few months – don’t define my overall sleep health.

In moments of anxiety, I practice the physiological sigh – two short, deep inhales followed by a long exhale, then a pause. It’s a simple exercise that helps to reset my body and mind, and calm my nervous system.

This journey with sleep anxiety has been challenging, but it has also been enlightening. I’ve learned so much about myself, my resilience, and how to manage my nervous system.

I’ve seen a significant transformation in my own life from the strategies I’ve learned and applied. That’s why I’ve dedicated time and effort to providing solutions for those grappling with sleep anxiety. I want to pass on the insights that have helped me in the hope that they can help others, too. All of these insights, solutions, and practical strategies are encapsulated in our signature program, The Nervous System Solution. This program is designed to help those struggling with sleep anxiety access the deep, restorative sleep they need.

If you’re ready to embark on this journey and transform your sleep, I invite you to sign up for the waitlist for our program. As soon as we reopen doors, you’ll be the first to know.

For a deeper dive into some of the practical strategies that we use inside The Nervous System Solution, check out this other post on our blog: Can’t Sleep? How to Get Rid of Nighttime Anxiety. It breaks down these strategies in more detail, giving you a taste of what’s to come in the program.

Sleep anxiety is challenging, but it doesn’t have to be a life sentence. As someone who has been through the trenches and come out the other side, I promise that transformation is possible.

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Dr. Linnea Passaler

Dr. Linnea Passaler

Dr. Linnea Passaler has dedicated 20+ years to serving patients, first to a small number of individuals as a successful surgeon and then to thousands of people worldwide as the CEO of a digital health startup. After overcoming her own struggles with a dysregulated nervous system, she created Heal Your Nervous System (HYNS) to empower others in their healing journey. Her combination of neuroscience and somatic work helps those struggling with overwhelm, trauma, burnout, and anxiety to heal their dysregulated nervous systems and thrive.