How a Single Schedule Change Can Help Driving Fears and Anxiety

by on July 28, 2015

alarm clock

If your driving fears or anxiety is driving you nuts with endless thoughts swirling in your head, you may benefit from a single adjustment to your schedule. Simply go to bed a bit earlier than usual.

The link between mental health and sleep has long been explored, and a study published in Cognitive Therapy and Research found there was a link between a person’s bedtime and that person’s tendency toward repetitive negative thinking.

Repetitive Negative Thinking

Repetitive negative thinking can be defined as a persistent focus on problems and experiences typically beyond your control. Prime examples including worrying about things that happened in the past as well as things that may or may not happen in the future, all of which may be overshadowed by a slate of highly bothersome and intrusive thoughts.

Those who are accosted by this kind of thinking often suffer from some type of disorder, such as:

  • Major depressive disorder
  • General anxiety disorder
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Compulsive disorder

They are also likely to suffer from some type of sleep issue or problem.

The Study

Researchers checked out the link between repetitive negative thinking and sleep habits by rounding up 100 students from New York’s Binghampton University. Students completed two computerized assignments and a number of questionnaires, all of which measured students’ levels of repetitive negative thinking, or how much they obsessed, ruminated or worried about something.

Students were then asked if they were generally morning types or evening types and if they had regular sleeping hours or a later sleeping and waking schedule.

The Results

Students who suffered from more repetitive negative thoughts were those who:

  • Went to bed later
  • Slept for shorter periods
  • Identified themselves as evening types

Students who went to bed earlier and slept for longer periods had fewer reports of repetitive negative thinking.

Driving anxiety, driving fear and driving phobias are mental health issues that are all related. They may also all be helped by ensuring you get adequate quality sleep. As the study suggests, going to bed at an earlier time than usual may help, as can ensuring your body receives the seven to eight hours of sleep it needs.

Tips for Sleeping Better

Sleeping fitfully isn’t going to leave you as rested as sleeping peacefully, and MayoClinic serves up some tips for getting peaceful, quality sleep.

Establish a sleep schedule you stick to, even on weekends and holidays. This can reinforce your body’s sleep-wake cycle to help you sleep better at night.

Make a 15-minute cut-off time. If you’re still tossing, turning, ruminating or obsessing after 15 minutes of trying to get to sleep, get up and do something relaxing. Return to bed once you start to feel sleepy.

Create a bedtime ritual. Give your body a cue that it’s time to wind down for the day. Reading, listening to peaceful music or taking a soothing bath are a few examples.

While an earlier bedtime and at least seven hours of quality sleep may not be the end-all for treating your driving fears or anxiety, it can be a great start to help alleviate all that repetitive negative thinking.

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