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mental health / news
How BetterSleep Can Help with Anxiety
by BetterSleep
Nov 14 2022 • 10 min read
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Anxiety disorders are some of the most common types of mental health issues. Every year, nearly 19% of American adults struggle with an anxiety disorder and many more have anxiety that isn’t severe or frequent enough to be diagnosed as a mental health condition.

BetterSleep is a great tool for both diagnosed and everyday anxiety. While it’s a natural reaction and feeling, anxiety can be distressing and distracting. With features like guided meditations and bedtime stories to help you sleep, the app can help you keep anxiety at bay and manageable.

About Anxiety and Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety is a normal human emotion and reaction. It’s not always a problem, and in fact, can have benefits such as motivating you to work hard or reach a goal.

When anxiety becomes an issue, it takes over your life, paralyzes you, and makes it impossible to function normally. You might experience occasional periods of difficult anxiety in response to a situation, or you could have an anxiety disorder.

What Is Anxiety?

Anxiety is both a feeling and a reaction. When anxious, you might feel nervous, worried, and restless. Anxiety sometimes feels like fear. It can also give you a sense of dread and uneasiness.

Anxiety also causes physical symptoms:

  • Muscle tension
  • Sweating
  • Tremors or trembling
  • Rapid breathing
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Gastrointestinal distress
  • Poor sleep

You Can Be In Good Mental Health and Still Have Anxiety

Anxiety is a natural response to certain situations. Some people are more sensitive and experience anxiety more easily and everyone has their own triggers for anxiety. No one is completely immune to it.

When you experience a stressful situation, it is normal to react with anxiety. Your threshold might be higher or lower than someone else’s, but everyone gets anxious at times.

This reaction to stressors is part of the evolutionary fight-or-flight response. This is why you get certain physical symptoms when anxious, like increased heart rate and breathing. It is your body’s way of preparing to defend itself.

In many ways, anxiety can be positive. It tells you what is most important to you. For instance, if you’re up for a promotion at work and feel very anxious about the outcome, it means that you really want that career boost.

That anxiety can also motivate you. If you really want the promotion, anxiety over it can push you to work harder to achieve it. In the moment, anxiety can give you a boost of energy and focus that helps you get things done.

Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety becomes a problem under certain circumstances. If you experience anxiety out of proportion to your given situation and if it prevents you from functioning normally, you could have an anxiety disorder.

An anxiety disorder is a mental health condition that can be debilitating but that is also treatable. Generalized anxiety disorder is a common type and one that doesn’t have any particular trigger.

Social anxiety disorder is triggered by social interactions. Phobias have specific things as triggers, such as insects or enclosed spaces. Panic disorder causes very scary and intense panic attacks.

Other potential causes of anxiety disorders include medical conditions, substance abuse, and separation from parents in children.

What Are Mental Health and Anxiety Apps?

Apps designed to support mental health have proliferated in recent years as the conversation about mental illness loses some stigma. More people have begun to recognize the importance of mental health and are less ashamed to talk about it and seek support.

Mental health apps are numerous. Some are general and others are tailored to specific needs, like sleep or anxiety. The most effective of these offer a variety of tools that might target one need but help with all areas of mental health.

What Do Mental Health Apps Do?

Health apps make a lot of claims, but if you haven’t tried one yet, you might not understand exactly what they do. The goal of these apps is to provide tools to help the user maintain or improve mental health:

  • Guided meditations
  • Mindfulness practice
  • Education
  • Deep breathing exercises
  • Soothing stories
  • Calming sounds or music

Beware of any app that claims to diagnose or treat a mental illness, including anxiety disorder. This is not what they are supposed to do. They should support good mental health and can certainly lessen symptoms, but they are not actual treatment.

When you subscribe to an anxiety app, you get access to a library of educational and other resources. You can personalize it and create your own library. Most apps offer constantly updated content and tools and support ongoing use for the best results. They try to help you make a habit of actions that support your mental health.

Are Anxiety Apps Effective?

Yes, anxiety apps and other types of mental health or sleep apps can definitely be effective when used correctly. Everyone is different and has unique needs and goals. If an app helps you, it doesn’t matter what the research says.

That being said, research does support the use of apps to improve mental health. A large review of studies found that apps are strongest in helping people monitor mental health symptoms and even improve them. It considered people using the apps for sleep disorders like insomnia, anxiety, depression, trauma, and substance abuse.

One reason apps can help, according to researchers, is that they improve access to mental health care. Anxiety responds very well to things like meditation, mindfulness, and relaxation exercises, but not everyone has access to good care.

Some people are afraid of facing stigma, while others don’t have the right health insurance coverage. While an app should not be a substitute for professional care, it can help people who would otherwise not seek treatment.

Don’t Use an App as a Replacement for Treatment

Regardless of claims and studies, one thing that any anxiety app is not is a replacement for professional mental health care. A good app, when used appropriately, can definitely support your wellness, but it should never take the place of a therapist or other mental health care worker.

Not everyone needs professional treatment, but if you do, don’t stop seeing your therapist just because an app helps. Talk to your healthcare professional about how you can use an app in conjunction with treatment.

The Role of Sleep in Anxiety Management

At its core, BetterSleep is an app to help improve sleep, but it has a lot to offer in terms of all aspects of mental wellness. This includes anxiety. The reason that BetterSleep puts a focus on tools that manage anxiety is because of its affect on sleep.

Anxiety Affects Sleep

If you have anxiety, you know that it can make sleeping difficult. You probably lie in bed at night, your mind swirling with anxious thoughts and worries. Anxiety makes it hard to turn your brain off, and that makes sleep a challenge.

Anxiety is not necessarily a cause of insomnia, but it can be a risk factor and it can also make it worse. According to studies, people with anxiety disorders and insomnia have worse symptoms of insomnia: poorer quality of sleep, more difficulty falling or staying asleep, and worse daytime sleepiness.

Sleep Affects Anxiety

The pattern is circular, which means it can spiral out of control. When you don’t get enough sleep, or poor quality sleep, your anxiety will likely worsen or become more frequent. In turn, that makes it hard to sleep. The cycle continues until you do something to correct it.

How to Use BetterSleep as an Anxiety App

BetterSleep can help you with both insomnia and anxiety. Many of the tools focus on relaxation, stress management, and reducing anxious thoughts, all of which improve sleep. This is what makes the app one of the best.

You get more than just a tool to manage anxiety symptoms. You also get a focus on reducing insomnia symptoms.

Use the app in whatever way works best for you, but try all the tools to see if they help. You might not think a bedtime story is for you, but you might be surprised.

Explore the app and all its functions to ease your anxiety and get a better night’s rest. Here are some of the tools available and how they can help.

Relaxing Music

Music is a more powerful tool than many people realize. Humans evolved to make and appreciate music. It is ingrained in who we are as a species. Music can affect your mood and overall wellness. It can even have an impact on physical health measures.

Music therapy is an effective tool for managing many mental wellness symptoms, but you don’t need to work with a professional to get some of the benefits. Just listening to music you like can be relaxing and distracting.

One study found that relaxing music moderates the body’s stress response. Participants who listened to relaxing music before being exposed to a stressor were able to recover more quickly to a relaxed state than those who did not have the music.

BetterSleep provides an extensive library of curated music designed to help reduce anxiety and induce relaxation. You can find the playlists that work best for you and use them as you meditate, while reading in bed, or while going through any of your pre-bed rituals. Here are some you might want to try for specific needs:

  • Healing Music. The healing music library contains pieces with specific frequencies known as Solfeggio. These tones have been used by people for millennia to relax and heal. Some provide an energy boost, others are good for emotional release, and some help balance your moods.
  • “Fight Insomnia” Playlists. We have curated these mixes specifically to help you fall asleep more easily and stay asleep longer. Some specifically target the quality of sleep you get. Try the Deep Sleep playlist, for example, to enjoy more restful sleep.
  • Meditation Music. You’ll also find a set of playlists that are perfect for your new anti-anxiety meditation practice. Use the music to enter a deeper state of awareness and relaxation.

Meditations for Anxiety

Another proven and powerful way to manage anxiety is with regular meditation. People have used meditation for thousands of years, but modern science has only recently proven that it benefits mental wellness. BetterSleep is a meditation app, among many other things.

Meditation and Mental Health

Many studies show that regular meditation effectively treats and reduces symptoms of several mental illnesses. They show that meditation is particularly effective at reducing anxiety, stress, and depression.

Studies show meditation can even change structures in the brain, reducing activity in the fight-or-flight response that makes you feel anxious.

Meditate Regularly for the Best Results

The best results occur in people who use meditation for eight weeks or more, so use BetterSleep’s guided meditation daily and make it a habit. Try the 12-minute Grounding Meditation for Anxiety or the 5 Nights of Stress and Anxiety Relief series to get started.

Many of the meditations are sleep focused, but every single one has the potential to reduce anxiety. Meditation focuses the mind on something other than your worries. It helps you stop ruminating and make you more able to cope with stressful situations without letting anxiety take control.

Meditation takes practice and the benefits grow with time. Start with short, beginner meditations and stick with it. You’ll get results immediately, but they will also grow the more you practice.

Sleep Sounds

There are several ways that specific sounds can help you soothe anxiety.

Use Sounds You Find relaxing

You might find some sounds inherently relaxing. For instance, if you have happy memories of camping as a child, lakeside sounds or rain on leaves can take your mind to a happier place for instant anxiety relief.

Use Sound to Drown Out Noise

The right sound mix can also help you drift off to sleep. Specific sounds or just white noise are useful for drowning out disruptive environmental noises. If the sounds help you sleep better, they will ultimately contribute to reducing anxiety.

Make a Sound Mix for Every Mood

BetterSleep has sounds for everyone, from falling rain and other sounds of nature to ASMR, city background sounds, distant trains, and white noise. The app allows you to listen to one or many. Create a blend, increasing the volume for some over others.

Binaural Beats and Isochronic Tones

In addition to all the soothing sounds in the BetterSleep library, you’ll find special tones that can reduce anxiety and help you sleep.

Binaural beats

Binaural beats are two different tones, one delivered to each ear via headphones, that combine to create a third tone in the brain.

Isochronic tones

Isochronic tones are single tones that you can use without headphones but that have not been studied as extensively as binaural beats.

Tones to Beat Anxiety

Try adding a 10 Hz binaural beat or isochronic tone to your sleep sounds to promote relaxation and reduce stress or anxiety. This frequency mimics alpha waves in the brain, which can help you feel less anxious.

Mimic delta waves in the brain with lower frequency tones, like 2.5 or 4 Hz. These tones support deeper sleep and will help you feel more rested.

Bedtime Stories

Bedtime stories are no longer just for kids. Adults increasingly find that a soothing story at night is a great distraction from anxious thoughts and a good way to fall asleep sooner.

Check out BetterSleep’s digital library of sleep stories to help you unwind at night. Create a relaxing, comfortable sleeping environment, turn out the lights, and drift off to a good story.

The stories are designed to be relaxing rather than exciting. They are still engaging, though, and will take your mind away from your worries so you can sleep.

When You Need Professional Support for Anxiety Symptoms

An app like BetterSleep can be a huge help for anyone struggling with anxiety. But no anxiety apps can substitute professional health care.

A trained mental health professional can provide effective, researched-backed treatments, like cognitive behavioral therapy.

How do you know you need professional care for your anxiety? One important sign is that you try self-care and lifestyle changes, like the tools on the app, but still have a lot of anxiety.

If you meet the criteria for a true anxiety disorder, talk to your doctor or a therapist. Symptoms include:

  • Excessive anxiety more days than not for six months or more
  • Difficulty controlling anxiety and worries
  • Feeling restless, irritable, or tense, difficulty concentrating, fatigue, and difficulty sleeping during anxious periods
  • Anxiety that prevents you from functioning normally in daily activities, at work, or socially

Talking to your doctor is a great place to start if you think you might benefit from professional help for anxiety. They can help you determine if you might be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and recommend therapists or psychologists for you to see.

Anxiety can be a real problem for many people. If you struggle with anxious thoughts and worries, you are far from alone.

Many adults have regular anxiety or an anxiety disorder. Try BetterSleep’s many tools to ease those worries and get more sleep. If they don’t help, it’s time to seek professional support so you can finally get relief.

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