Hi. It’s Jenny at AnxietyBoss.com. Our question today is from Donny in Orlando, Florida. I have anxiety from staying up too late at night. No matter what, I freak out and always try to go to bed at a certain hour. How can I get rid of this feeling and thought? Sometimes during weekends, I just want to relax, go out with friends, or watch a movie and don’t want to freak out about being late to bed.
Let’s consider the diagnostic possibilities:
It could be that you are having intrusive, obsessive thoughts about not getting enough rest at night. These obsessive thoughts may fill your head for a long time, and it sounds like the thoughts are interfering with your social life. Because of your obsessions, you may be exhibiting compensatory compulsive behaviors, which serve to decrease the anxiety associated with the obsessions. For example, because of the anxiety induced by the obsessions that you are not getting enough rest, you may have compulsive behaviors at bedtime, like going to bed at certain times, or dropping everything just so you can be prepared for bedtime, even though it may be hours away from the appointed time of sleep. So it could be part of an obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).
Maybe you have excessive worries about everyday events or situations, like worrying about getting enough rest. So this may be the reason you are freaking out when you stay up late past your bedtime. You may spend too much time and preparation getting to bed. And when you do finally get to bed, you are so keyed-up and restless that you are not able to sleep! Can you imagine what this does to your anxiety? Yes, it worsens your anxiety, and you continue to worry about getting enough rest, and now you are sleep deprived. And sleep deprivation makes your anxiety even worse. This could be the presentation of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).
- Adjustment problems with stressors
Maybe you are experiencing stressors that are beyond your ability to cope with them. Maybe you have guilt about staying up too late. Are you staying up and procrastinating? What are you stressed about? What are you avoiding? Is there an upcoming thesis due at school? Do you have a year-end presentation to your colleagues at work? Are you having relationship problems? So this could be just a problem with dealing with stressors, which is temporarily overwhelming you and your ability to cope with them.
So your worry about not getting enough rest and staying up too late at night may be secondary to having an anxiety disorder such as OCD or GAD, or secondary to having adjustment problems coping with stressors. More information would be needed in order to figure out exactly what is going on. So addressing your anxiety and thoughts are dependent on what type of anxiety you have. Please click here for more information on anxiety symptoms and diagnostic considerations for the major anxiety disorders.