Sleep anxiety can be very frustrating. People often equate sleep anxiety to a simple case of insomnia, but it’s actually much more nuanced.
Some people who suffer from sleep anxiety have a hard time falling asleep – sometimes taking a half hour, or an hour (or more) to fall asleep. Others wake up constantly, even if falling asleep is not a problem. Either way, the result is usually a healthy case of grogginess.
Sleep anxiety is often blamed on “poor sleep habits”, depression, lack of exercise, poor diet, etc. But those same conditions usually result from a lack of sleep as well.
Sleep anxiety manifests itself in different ways, however, it does tend to go down a self-perpetuating path. You might have a few anxious nights (or weeks), which prevent you from sleeping optimally. This, in turn, might lead to a fear of having sleep anxiety or being fearful that you have a hard time falling, or staying asleep. Some people refer to this as “the fear of sleep”.
It doesn’t take too long to develop “chronic” sleep anxiety – a few weeks is long enough. Naturally, when you’re not well rested, you tend to feel groggy, low-energy, etc. It’s very normal to feel depressed. It can be difficult to have the motivation to exercise. Comfort food might very well comfort you.
So it’s easy to see why sleep anxiety (if you truly do suffer from it) could have pre-dated any depression, poor diet, lack of exercise, etc. Not everyone needs medication or therapy to treat their sleep anxiety – they just need more sleep.
Easier said than done – agreed!
However, if you can remember a time when you didn’t have sleep anxiety – when you didn’t dread getting into bed; when you weren’t worried about waking up on time because you weren’t worried about falling or staying asleep – then it’s very possible to rewind the self-induced sleep anxiety back.
The simplest way is to just reduce your anxiety once you’re already in bed. A very effective way is to use a weighted sleep mask like this one from nodpod.
How does a weighted sleep mask work?
In super simple terms, it’s like a hug. A weighted sleep mask mimics the effects of a hug, but for your head. If you’ve seen or heard of weighted blankets – this is the same concept, but the head version.
The fancy phrase for this is “deep touch pressure”.
Do you feel more at ease when being hugged? Do you feel comforted when being cuddled or spooned? A weighted sleep mask addresses those same sensory processes.
In essence, it reduces sleep anxiety by reducing overall anxiety.
Have you ever fallen asleep (or felt sleepy) while receiving a light massage? That is deep touch pressure at work.
Whether it is from a massage, or something as simple as a hug, deep touch pressure slows your heart rate, relaxes your muscles, and improves circulation. A combination of these three usually results in your body releasing endorphins – which tends to make you feel good and very relaxed!
If you feel calm and at peace – feeling sleepy is very natural. You don’t have to fight it, it just happens.
How do you use a weighted sleep mask?
A weighted sleep mask is essentially the same as any other type of sleep mask, it’s just weighted. This weighted mask from nodpod, for example, contains microbeads.
Before you put the nodpod mask on your head, you start by inserting one end of the mask through the other. Then you place the mask over your face and tighten to your preference. That’s it!
Some models of weighted sleep masks will use velcro or buttons for fastening, which can cause discomfort – particularly when you move or shift while asleep. The self-enclosure of the nodpod allows for some wiggle room when you move or shift, which greatly reduces any disruption to your much-needed sleep.
If you need a video to see it in action, here you go:
What is the nodpod made of, and how is it constructed?
The nodpod mask starts with two layers on the outside. One side is made of jersey cotton, for a cooler feel; the other side is made of microfleece for a warmer feel.
In the middle of the mask are four equally shaped pods filled with microbeads which provide the weight.
A nodpod mask is machine washable, and dryer-safe (when treated as a “delicate”).
Some more specs:
- 28″ in length
- Weights 10.1 ounces
- Available in black, yellow, grey, purple, pink, flamingo pink
Extra tips and tricks
Here are a few additional instructions and tips that we’ve learned from using the nodpod:
Some people enjoy the warmth from a heated sleeping mask. However, extreme heat can and does melt the microbeads, so don’t use your microwave. Instead, try throwing it in your drying machine for a few minutes.
Wash in cold water
For the same reasons as above, wash your weighted sleeping mask in cold water, and dry on your lowest heat setting.
Throw it in the freezer for a cooler mask
If you enjoy the cooling effects of a cold mask, just pop it in the freezer for an hour or so before you get into bed.
The beads are freezer safe.
Adjust if necessary
Some side-sleepers might feel uncomfortable when the beads are positioned directly under their ear.
We found two solutions for this:
1.) If you tend to favor sleeping on one side over the other, position the mask so that there are no pods directly over the side of your head which you’ll be sleeping on.
2.) If you sleep equally on both sides, cut a slit underneath the pods on either end and remove the beads. Then just adjust the mask to fit. With only three filled pods, you can avoid having a filled pod under either ear.
Feeling calm and at peace from deep touch pressure isn’t just a theory, it’s the reason why hugs and massages exist. If you suffer from sleep anxiety, it’s definitely worth a try.
Medical resources claim that sleep anxiety is caused by depression, poor diet, lack of exercise, etc. But sometimes the inverse is more accurate. Too often it’s the lack of sleep brought on by sleep anxiety that brings on a poor lifestyle.
Before you try more complicated remedies like medication or sleep therapy, try a weighted sleeping mask. They’re affordable and very simple to use.
They’re not addictive like sleeping pills, and won’t make you feel groggy once you wake up. Within a few weeks, you can actually reverse the sleep anxiety (as well as the symptoms that come with it) and get back to feeling well rested, happy, and healthy.