The Anxiety Cycle: How Sleep Affects Your Ability to Cope


This is my third post today. Honestly, I am struggling and need to process some stuff. Realistically, the shift in my mood has more to do with physiological changes than anything mental health related, but it is still just as frustrating all the same. I wouldn’t say that I am in a bad mood, but rather just tired. You know how when you are tired, you are more sensitive to rejection and less able to cope with things effectively? Well. that is me today.

I’d like to say that is started with an event that happened this morning (that I will get into later), but realistically it started 3 or 4 days ago. I’ve been struggling with insomnia since I moved into my new apartment a few weeks ago. I’m not sure if it’s due to anything like location anxiety, but nonetheless, it is still just as tiring as it is anywhere else.

The Root Cause

I have found myself waking up every 30 minutes to an hour at night this past week, which tells me that I am not getting any good meaningful rest. Deep sleep is something all of our bodies need. Not getting enough can lead to things like mood changes, such as what I am dealing with today. I’m exhausted and running on fumes (read: a whole lotta caffeine). This is not sustainable, and my mood changes are a lagging indicator of that.

Add a stressful miscommunication with my significant other this morning, with a pinch of panic attack… Okay, a WHOLE LOTTA panic attack, and you are in for a very emotionally drained brain. Which doesn’t have the energy to effectively cope with stressful events. Additionally, it is Wednesday which means I am mid anxiety cycle.

The Anxiety Cycle

What does that mean? Well, I find that I go through a weekly cycle. It has four steps:

  1. Stress: The first step is experiencing a situation in which I have a negative stress response to. Also, and increase in cortisol levels.
  2. Cope: The second step is implementing coping skills. In this step, I effectively use and manage my inventory of coping skills.
  3. Exhaustion: The third step in this cycle is exhaustion. The mental strain from coping consistently drains my mental energy reserve
  4. Repeat: In response to the next stressor, I am more tired and more vulnerable. The exhaustion slowly prevents me from being able to effectively manage and use my coping skills as effectively as the day before. The cycle then repeats.

By the time Wednesday rolls around, I am mentally drained and in survival mode. I am just trying to make it through the day without letting my unhealthy behaviors affect my personal and work relationships.

The long-term coping mechanism is rest. Quality rest. I don’t usually get that until the weekend. However, the issue lies in that I do not yet have an effective intermediate/short-term coping mechanism. I have used various tools to cope in survival mode, but I haven’t used any of them consistently enough to say for sure which one works for me.

Moving Forward

I think the key here moving forward is to place an emphasis on clearly communicating what is going on in my mind to my significant other and other important people. If I can’t cope effectively, I can at least clearly communicate what is going on. That way they will have forewarning and know what to potentially expect. It removes the aspect of them thinking a negative interaction with me is their fault, reduces the potential for hurt feelings, and encourages understanding.


In conclusion, I need to work on consistently journaling what I do in response to the anxiety cycle so that I can gain insight into what coping skills I use and their effectiveness. Until I gain that self-awareness, I need to place emphasis on effectively communicating what is going on in my mind so that the people close to me can gain understanding into what is going on.



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