Managing Stress-Related Insomnia

Among various psychiatric disorders that can cause a sleep disorder, anxiety disorders are the most prevalent in the general community. In fact, an anxiety disorder is present in 15% to 20% of all patients seeking health care.

According to the authors of a review of the impact of psychiatric conditions on sleep quality and quantity, published in Seminars in Neurology in 2005, identifying and effectively managing the sleep issues associated with anxiety disorders is not easy. Treatment plans should take into account the unique characteristics of each patient’s sleep complaints, as well as the effect sleep aids and other medications may have on his or her sleep.

Here are a few of the sleep-related problems these patients may experience:

• Patients with generalized anxiety disorder often have increased muscle tension and are unable to consciously relax.

•Arousal due to a panic attack, although rare, can occur during non-rapid eye movement sleep.

•Post-traumatic stress disorder, characterized by chronic hyperarousal and anxiety, commonly is associated with insomnia or nightmares.