Beautiful Virgin Islands


Why your brain keeps overthinking at night – and how to switch it off

Why your brain keeps overthinking at night – and how to switch it off

Over the last few weeks, I’ve found it impossible to drift off to sleep at a reasonable time.

My body will be positively knackered but my brain refuses to shut off, and so I lie there, eyes wide open in the dark, attempting to count sheep.

The problem is that my thoughts tend to spiral when I’m in bed: they’re not necessarily anxious thoughts, they could be about anything, but I’ll go down rabbit holes about everything from what I need to do in the gym tomorrow to a conversation I had with a friend two weeks ago.

Sleep problems aren’t foreign to me – I’ve always struggled to doze off – which is perhaps why it took me longer than I’d like to admit to link the tight sensation I’ve been feeling in my chest to the fact my brain won’t power down at night.

While I haven’t been officially diagnosed, all signs point to me having anxiety, and descriptions of ‘high-functioning’ anxiety online somewhat resonate – though some clinicians question the use of the term.


What is ‘high-functioning’ anxiety impact and how can it affect your sleep?


‘There are no agreed diagnostic criteria for high-functioning anxiety, and many clinicians would question whether it exists in its own right, but most would agree that despite persistently high levels of generalised anxiety some people can continue to function very well,’ Professor John Groeger, a lecturer in psychology and director of Sleep Well Science at Nottingham Trent University, tells Metro.co.uk.

Although anxiety in this form isn’t debilitating, says John, ‘the worry, fatigue, sleep loss, feelings of anger, etc will ultimately wear down even the hardest campaigner’.

The problem when anxiety manifests in this way, is that many people might not even register they’re dealing with it – and anxiety, high-functioning or not, can be a key driver of sleep struggles.

‘We can only sleep when we are sufficiently exhausted (and hence unable to worry!) or sufficiently relaxed,’ says John.

‘Stress will delay our sleep, because we are simply too aroused to relax.’

Dr Meg Arroll, a clinical psychologist and author of Tiny Traumas: When you don’t know what’s wrong, but nothing feels quite right, tells Metro.co.uk that this is because ‘the stress response triggered by anxious thoughts overrides the sleep drive as it is so key for survival.’

Essentially, if our body thinks we’re in danger (which is basically what anxiety is), it won’t want us to sleep for practical reasons, even when there is no real threat.

The problem is, a lack of sleep can then contribute to our anxiety, causing a potentially infinite feedback loop.

Not being able to switch off in bed can be a sign of stress


‘After a stressful day, and a shortened or broken night’s sleep, we will function worse,’ says John.

‘Our concentration will be poorer, our intolerance greater, and the effort we need to make will increase.

‘We will become more sensitive to, perhaps find it less easy to forgive, what we see as ‘faults’ in others, such as delays we encounter.’

The added anxiety of all of this might then make it even harder to sleep the following night, and so on.

This will be even worse if we attempt to curb our anxiety and irritability with caffeine or excess food and sugar, John adds.


How to sleep better when your brain won’t shut off


So, how do we solve this seemingly never-ending cycle of overthinking, anxiety and bad sleep?

John suggests journalling or speaking to someone you trust before you attempt to sleep, so as ‘not to bring your worries to bed’.

Instead, he says, think about the things that went well during the day.

‘If you cannot think of anything, think about a previous day,’ he adds.

Finally, avoid confrontational and anxiety-inducing situations where possible, skip the alcoholic nightcap, avoid excess caffeine and try to exercise, especially outside and earlier in the day.

‘Above all,’ says John, ‘seek professional help and the support of those who love you.’

Comments

Deborah Bidlack 1 year ago
very interesting!

Newsletter

Related Articles

Beautiful Virgin Islands
0:00
0:00
Close
Taylor Swift Fans Create Seismic Activity in Edinburgh
I have a dream, MLK inspiring speech
Sunak Aide Under Investigation for Election Bet
Aretha Franklin, Marvis Staples - Oh Happy Day
Labour Leader Starmer Focuses on Wealth Creation for Upcoming UK Elections
BVI Freedom Song
G7 to Use Frozen Russian Assets for $50 Billion Ukraine Aid
Billy Preston - You Can't Beat God Giving (Live)
Anti-Israel Irish MEP Clare Daly LOST her seat in the EU Election
VIRGIN ISLANDS REGGAE CARIBBEAN RIDDIMZ
Johnson & Johnson Settles Talc Safety Claims for $700 Million
Oh Happy Day Edwin Hawkins - Anthony Brown w FBCG Combined Choir
EU Urged to Welcome Skilled Russians to Weaken Putin
'Stand by Me' performed by Karen Gibson and The Kingdom Choir
EU Elections Overview: Far-Right Gains and Major Political Shifts
National Anthem of the British Virgin Islands - Oh, Beautiful Virgin
Israel Rescues Four Hostages from Gaza
Hello Dolly
Emmanuel Macron Calls for Snap Election
for KING & COUNTRY - Amen (Reborn) [feat. Lecrae & The WRLDFMS Tony Wi
Jordan Bardella: Young Far-Right Leader Poised for Future Political Influence in France
Bob Marley - Get Up Stand Up
World's Oldest Privately Owned Book Auctioned for $3.8 Million
Yes He Can
Animal Rights Activists Deface King Charles' Portrait in Protest
What A Friend We Have In Jesus
Dutch Military Intel Uncovers Extensive Chinese Cyber Espionage
Unforgettable
Turkish Student Arrested for Using AI to Cheat in University Exam
Touch The Hem Of His Garment
Rise in Dengue and Other Mosquito-Borne Diseases in Europe Due to Climate Change
The Lord's Prayer
EU Elections Overview: Far-Right Gains and Major Political Shifts
THE GOD MOVEMENT...BEAUTIFUL BVI
Far-Right National Rally Dominates France's EU Vote
Siyahamba
Macron Calls Snap Legislative Elections After Far-Right Victory
Ray Charles And The Voices Of Jubilaton, Oh, Happy Day
Far-Right Gains Significantly in EU Election
Ramblin' Rose
UK Job Market Shows Signs of Recovery
Protoje - Who Knows ft. Chronixx
Orban’s Fidesz Party Wins Majority in Hungary’s EU Elections as New Challenger Emerges
Pressure - Virgin Islands Nice
Meloni's Far-Right Party Wins European Elections in Italy
Phil Wickham - House Of The Lord
Key Insights from the European Union Elections
My God Is Real (Yes, God Is Real)
European Union Elections and Rise of Far-Right Parties
The Lion King Circle of Life by LEBO M. — LIVE at the HAVASI Symphonic
England Loses Over 260,000 Social Rent Homes in a Decade
Louis Armstrong - When The Saints Go Marching In
Campaigners Urge Government to Block Shein's FTSE Listing
Kanye West Sunday Service - hallelujah, salvation, and glory
First NHS AI-Run Physiotherapy Clinic Launches This Year
Jonathan Nelson - I Believe (Island Medley
British TV Presenter Michael Mosley Found Dead on Greek Island
From The Virgin Islands Sqad Up
Ukrainian Forces Claims First Strike on Russia's Su-57 Fighter Jet
Common, John Legend - Glory
Macron Dissolves Parliament and Calls Snap Elections
Anthony Evans vs. Jesse Campbell - If I Ain't Got You
Russia Adds Yulia Tymoshenko to Wanted List
I have a dream, MLK inspiring speech
UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron Tricked by Hoax Caller Posing as Former Ukrainian President
Aretha Franklin, Marvis Staples - Oh Happy Day
Kate Middleton's Absence from Colonel's Review Due to Chemotherapy
BVI Freedom Song
UK Foreign Secretary Deceived by Prank Video Call
Billy Preston - You Can't Beat God Giving (Live)
Sunak Criticised Over D-Day Exit in BBC Debate
VIRGIN ISLANDS REGGAE CARIBBEAN RIDDIMZ
Rishi Sunak Apologizes for Leaving D-Day Commemoration Early
Oh Happy Day Edwin Hawkins - Anthony Brown w FBCG Combined Choir
UK Woman Sentenced After Causing Fatal Crash While Sending Selfies
'Stand by Me' performed by Karen Gibson and The Kingdom Choir
Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen Assaulted in Central Copenhagen
National Anthem of the British Virgin Islands - Oh, Beautiful Virgin
UN to Add Israel to Human Rights Blacklist
Hello Dolly
Germany and France Oppose EU Luxury Car Restrictions to Russia
for KING & COUNTRY - Amen (Reborn) [feat. Lecrae & The WRLDFMS Tony Wi
Plus-Sized Miss Alabama Sara Milliken Responds to Online Critics
Bob Marley - Get Up Stand Up
Nigel Farage's Return Boosts Support for Reform UK Party
Yes He Can
Labour Party to Pledge Recognition of Palestinian State in Election Manifesto
What A Friend We Have In Jesus
British Paratroopers Greeted by French Customs After D-Day Anniversary Airdrop
Unforgettable
UK Statistics Watchdog Chief Urges Sunak to Clarify Labour Tax Claim Source
Touch The Hem Of His Garment
UK Conservatives Promise to Restore Child Benefit for Higher Earners
The Lord's Prayer
US House Votes to Sanction International Criminal Court
THE GOD MOVEMENT...BEAUTIFUL BVI
British Judges Resign from Hong Kong's Top Court
Siyahamba
Australia Abandons Case on Stabbing Videos Against Elon Musk's Platform
Ray Charles And The Voices Of Jubilaton, Oh, Happy Day
×