Why can't I stop worrying at night?

There are times in life when we don't seem to be able to put our worries aside. From the outside, they are not such big issues and sometimes people around us do not seem to understand why we appear to be nearly obsessed by them.

We have all experienced the sleepless nights when our brain seems to be in overdrive and jumps from one worry to the next without giving us any respite. This often results in broken sleep which inevitably adds to our long list of worries because, after a few poor nights, we start worrying that we will not be able to go to sleep and this will impact our work, our relationship, our ability to look after our family and so on. We start worrying about worrying. Telling ourselves to stop worrying does not work: just try and tell yourself to stop picturing a pink elephant and see what happens…

There are a number of techniques that we can employ to ease off our worrying:

  • Sometimes, when we are under pressure, we worry that we will forget to do all the things we need to do. Keeping a pad beside the bed makes it easier to write down the things we need to do and releases us from staying awake.

  • Other times we try to find a solution to a problem which is bothering us. So we go round and round in circles and the problem escalates in importance getting us more and more worked up. Make an appointment with yourself for a specific time in the near future. For example, “This is a time to rest and sleep. I will be thinking about this problem tomorrow afternoon after dinner when things are quieter.” Some people find that making this arrangement allows them to let go of the worry for the night. It is important that whatever appointment you make with yourself is kept or this technique will not work again.

Of course, it's also important to remember that problems always seem worse at night so postponing looking at them until daylight makes sense as it will be easier to keep things into proportion.

If worrying seems to get out of control and affect various parts of our life, counselling may be able to help us get to the root of our need to worry and change our thought patterns to stop endless worrying from taking over our lives.

Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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Morpeth NE61 & Newcastle Upon Tyne NE3

Written by Anna Dallavalle

Morpeth NE61 & Newcastle Upon Tyne NE3

Anna Dallavalle is a counsellor with a private practice in the North East of England. She works with individuals and couples on issues such as self-confidence, anxiety, depression, relationship issues and the emotional and physical impact of the menopause on women and their relationships.

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