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Getting sleeping difficulty with breathing problem. Is it anxiety?

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Practicing since : 2009
Answered : 632 Questions
Generally drink a bottle of red wine before bed to get to sleep (have been feeling quite anxious before bedtime). I know this is an issue and have recently sought help for it. Have been referred to a psychologist whom I will have my first appointment with in two weeks. I have not received any medications from doctor and am not taking any medications.

Recently (last six months), have woken up after a couple of hours sleep and not able to return to sleep (after drinking). Wake up feeling very jittery. I find this feeling disturbing. I try and go back to sleep, but the "jitteriness" is uncomfortable, and I find I get "nightmare-style flashes" when I close my eyes. I have tried breathing slowly, having a drink of water, etc, but it does not work. I have to get out of bed and watch tv until it is morning, and then I am generally able to sleep again. Needless to say it is exhausting.

Would like to know if the jittery feeling is related to the anxiety I initially feel (pre-drinking), or if it could be from the alcohol/sugar in alcohol/etc?

Would like to know what I could do to help alleviate the anxiety I feel before bedtime? (If I don't drink before bed, I cannot sleep until it is morning). I have already tried relaxing, drinking teas, having a bath, etc.

Thanks for your help and suggestions.
Posted Mon, 25 Mar 2013 in Anxiety and Stress
Answered by Dr. Sundar Gnanavel 20 minutes later
Thanks for your query. I understand your concern with the anxiety symptoms. I also understand that you use alcohol as an anxiolytic. The symptoms you describe are classic of an anxiety spectrum disorder. You would need to a throrough psychiatric evaluation to determine whether it is panic/generalised/phobic anxiety disorder. Though alcohol provides temporary relief from anxiety symptoms, it also precipitates anxiety disorders over long run. Hence, your psychiatrist is likely to start you on an effective anti-anxiety drug like SSRIs. You can try out breathing relaxation exercises and meditation for safe, non-addictive relief from anxiety symptoms in addition to the anxiolytic medication to be prescribed. Hope you found the information useful.Do clarify further if required.
Dr Sundar
Psychiatrist and Specialist-substance use disorders
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