Anxiety problems

I survived my first week as a “real” teacher! The main battle that I’m fighting? Myself.

I’ve been having a lot of anxiety, always at night, to the point where I’ve been considering seeing a doctor for help and insight.

I either can’t fall asleep for hours after getting into bed or I fall asleep and wake up at all hours of the night/morning and then can’t get back to sleep before work. During these “episodes”, I have trouble breathing, my chest feels tight, my heart feels like it’s racing (although Tom felt it and said it felt normal at the time), my stomach feels knotted, and my mind is racing.

And I don’t know why!

I am always prepared for the next day’s classes, I haven’t had any overly negative run-ins with students, I get along great with all of my coworkers, and I’m completely exhausted! I remind myself of this while I’m laying in bed, but I only end up stressing more because of how little sleep I’ll be getting (yet again). It’s a vicious cycle.

This weekend was great because I got to catch up on sleep that I had lost last week. But I felt pretty groggy and “off” all weekend as well. I think part of it was because Tom was upstate speaking at WordCamp Buffalo, so I was alone (and admittedly had a slight breakdown the day before he left…more anxiety), and the other part was because my body and mind were recuperating.

I worked out after work yesterday, hoping that it would help alleviate some stress and also make my body even more tired so it had no choice but to fall asleep at night. Oh, and also because I need to get back in the gym because I have been enjoying way too many Chips Ahoy Chocolate Chip Candy Explosion cookies. Win-win-win situation, right?

To make things even better, last night Tom and I tried Headspace, a meditation app, while laying in bed trying to fall asleep. I felt the exhaustion and was hopeful that I would get sleep I was trying to keep my mind on my breathing and not on work or my sleeping problem but I still felt the anxiety creeping in every time I closed my eyes. So we started up the app.

The guy had a very soothing, calming British accent, and one of his first instructions was to have our eyes open. I tried, but my eyelids were just too heavy – a good sign! And then I started noticing that while he paused in between instructions, I was spacing out, like sleep was on its way!

I actually fell asleep within about 4 or 5 minutes of the app (it’s only 10 minutes long)…but then I woke up shortly after.

Noooooo!!!!

Tom was still awake, which was nice because the anxious feelings came back with a vengeance, and talking to him makes me feel better. He told me how quickly I had fallen asleep and how he was happy for me because he knows that this has been a real struggle lately. And then he told me about the very loud truck that roared past our apartment that was responsible for waking me up.

So we started the app again, but to no avail did I fall asleep this time. I eventually got to sleep, but I’m just so frustrated at myself for not being able to contain or even pinpoint these feelings. And I’m tired. Plus, I’m worried that this will spark a flare-up with my Crohns – extreme stress is what exacerbates the disease for me. I don’t want to take any chances and have another flare-up.

Tonight’s efforts included a cup of night calm tea, so I’m hoping that helps…and that I don’t end up having to pee 37 times tonight.

Anyone have similar issues/problems? How did you get over them and how do you deal with stress? Thoughts on meditation vs. medication? Any help would be appreciated!

A Sleep Aid Review…After 4 Hours Of Sleep

I am currently running on about 4 hours of sleep.

And this is a review of the Slumberland Snacks Sleep Squares.

So get ready.

I received a sample of these sleep squares in my June Conscious Box. I wrote about my Conscious Box experience in a post you can find here.

Reading some reviews, apparently people swear by these things. I don’t have a sleep disorder, so I have never really taken sleep aids or anything like that, prescription or otherwise. I’m a pretty light sleeper, so I wake up (and then stay awake) pretty easily. I took an anti-anxiety pill for a bit last year, but the anxiety was due to my Crohn’s, which was not diagnosed until a bit later. And when I’m stressed, it can take a toll on my sleep patterns. But nothing as bad as last night…

So these sleep squares are said to be “deliciously simple treats that help you get a better night’s rest.” The sample I received contained two squares, and since they are supposedly very healthy (100% natural, sugar and gluten free, etc.) they actually have an expiration date. Mine were due to expire in 2 weeks, and since I have to work and go to school the next 4 days, I figured last night would be good a time as any to test them out. Be prepared, get a good night’s sleep to tackle these next few days. Right?

The directions suggest taking the sleep square(s) about 30 minutes before you plan to fall asleep, so I took one at 12 midnight. It didn’t taste bad (they come in many flavors, but mine were just plain chocolate) and I made sure to chew completely before swallowing, as was directed.

After about 30 minutes, I had been dozing on and off, but when I would come back to consciousness, it felt as though my heart was racing. I had that really anxious feeling like when you’re nervous or feel like you’re forgetting something. Or when you doze in public and realize it only after you jolt awake in an embarrassing way. Why was I feeling like this?

I did my homework.

I didn’t have to be up early.

I hadn’t eaten in over 4 hours.

I hadn’t had any tiffs with friends or anyone, causing me to stress.

Heck, I had even done some extra independent studying of Statistics AND worked out at the gym!

What gives?!

So around 12:45, I took the second square, drank some water, and climbed back into bed. This second one would do the trick, it had to. I just needed that extra push.

I read the box, making sure that these squares were actually to help you sleep and not give you energy. It does mention that you should discontinue use if you have feelings of anxiety and insomnia (check and check), along with a heap load of other negative reactions.

And then, around 5:30 a.m., having been awake the entire night, I got out of bed and jumped around my room to try to release a bunch of the pent up energy, ate a banana, and noted that the sun was starting to come up. Wonderful.

I climbed back into bed (by now I had already had a few meltdowns…”everyone else is asleep, what is wrong with me?!”), read for a bit, and around 6 a.m., I was finally able to kick that anxious, super-awake feeling enough to catch some zzzs. And then I woke up at 9:30 and laid there until my alarm went off at 10.

I’m sure this is how I’ll look coming home after work tonight. Needless to say, I personally do not recommend these things.