If you're here, reading this article, my guess is you know what it's like to dread the morning and all the feelings that come with it when you're living with insomnia or another sleep disorder.
As someone who has struggled with sleep since childhood, I am intimately familiar with the apprehension of each morning approaching. It may be a new day, the sun and the moon may have switched places for several hours, but I most likely didn't have a great night.
Early morning anxiety and dread
Maybe it took me 2 hours to fall asleep, or maybe I was up 5 separate times during the night. Maybe my sleep was restless or broken up. Maybe it was just light and not exactly restful. No matter the circumstances, somewhere around 4 or 5 AM, I find myself filled with anxiety.
What if I nod off just before my alarm is set, and then it's impossible to get out of bed? What if I'm too exhausted to function. Why can't I just stay in bed all day after a bad night's sleep?
Sometimes, this trepidation leaves me wide awake, losing out on 2 to 3 hours of early morning sleep I otherwise would have gotten. As I'm sure you can imagine, this leaves me incredibly frustrated! This is a prime example for me of when insomnia feels like a lose-lose battle.
My morning dread tips
Here are my tips on how to handle the morning dread:
- When I plan my days, I set a buffer window for the morning. Sometimes I have more flexibility in my schedule than others, but usually, I need at least an hour from getting out of bed to feeling awake, freshened up, and functioning. This might mean my alarm goes off earlier than "necessary," but I've found it makes a large difference in how I'm able to tackle the rest of the day.
- Decide on a caffeine strategy and stick with it. Often I spend way too much time waffling between getting coffee and skipping it, and that time could be used to shower or go for a walk or set the intention of my day in a more productive way.
- Set a mental timer for any anxiety about the morning that trickles its way in during your evening. Whether before bed or during the night, have a plan on how to handle these feelings. For me, it's sometimes writing them down in a notebook or in the notes app on my phone. Other times it's thinking about them and then metaphorically putting them in a drawer in my head before trying to get back to mentally resting or checking out.
- Talk to your spouse/childcare/boss about these feelings. I've noticed I'm much more temperamental on the days when I'm experiencing or have walked through morning dread. I've found that people usually want to help (or at least understand) what you're struggling with, and sometimes kindness, grace, and an extra set of hands or a few minutes of quiet can make a big difference.
If you have found yourself sitting with morning dread, how have you worked through it? I'd love to see any other suggestions you have dropped into the comments below!
Do you find it harder to fall asleep or stay asleep?