One of the worst feelings is lying awake at night consumed by anxious thoughts as you watch the time pass hour by hour, unable to get the restful sleep you deserve. Over 40 million Americans struggle with anxiety, and whether you know it or not, it can be negatively impacting your quality of sleep.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, constant worrying is a common cause of sleep deprivation, and in some cases, can lead to a sleep disorder like insomnia. As a result, lack of sleep activates the regions of your brain that trigger obsessive worrying.
So what does that mean? Anxiety and sleep deprivation go hand in hand, and it can be difficult to stop that domino effect once it has started. Luckily, there are tips and tricks you can practice before bed so you’re more likely to fall asleep, and stay asleep.
Experiencing stress at a lower, more manageable level can be beneficial because it encourages us to be productive and vigilant. One should seek treatment, however, when stress is hindering you from performing everyday functions, like sleeping.
You can speak with a medical professional if stress is regularly causing you to stay awake at night. They may refer you to a sleep clinic where they’ll take a closer look at your symptoms and hopefully offer a diagnosis. Alternatively, if a mental health professional is accessible to you, they can develop a plan with you that’ll help you fall asleep easier at night.
Medical professionals will usually resort to psychotherapy, prescription medications, or a combination of both. Psychotherapy, also known as cognitive behavioral therapy or mindfulness therapy, can help you learn to cope with stress in a healthier, more manageable manner.
Here are a few things you can do yourself before bed to help ease anxiety and kickstart your restful sleep journey.
Make Sure To Exercise
When your body is active and engaged in physical activity, your body releases endorphins to make you feel healthy and evoke feelings of happiness. Exercising during the day also makes your body feel more tired at night, which better prepares you to fall asleep. Just make sure you don’t exercise too close to bedtime or you could get the opposite result — an unwanted burst of energy. Even some green exercise, like a quick jog in nature, or even just around the block should do the trick.
Choose A Suitable Mattress For Your Body & Primary Sleeping Position
If your mattress doesn’t properly accommodate your sleeper type or physique, it could be close to impossible to get a restful night of sleep. For example, side sleepers generally like softer beds that provide ample pressure relief. Likewise, if you experience hip pain, you’ll probably want to choose a mattress that contains top layers that cradle the curves around your hip region. Either way, make sure you buy a mattress that provides good value for the money you spend. Since you plan on keeping your mattress for the next decade or so, you want to make sure you’re sleeping on a quality bed — but that doesn’t mean you have to break the bank to buy one.
Have A Daily Nighttime Routine
Try incorporating relaxing activities into your nighttime routine to relax your mind and wind down before bed. You can try meditation practices like yoga, breathing exercises, read a book, or take a warm bath. The point is to make yourself sleepy enough so when you do eventually get in bed, it’s much easier to fall asleep.
Stay Away From Caffeine
We know this is a daily coffee drinker’s actual nightmare, but caffeine can cause individuals with anxiety to feel jittery, and can even trigger an anxiety attack for people who severely struggle with the condition.
Go Over Current Medications With Your Doctor
For those of you with common anxiety disorders like OCD, PTSD, or phobias — talk to your doctor about possible alternatives to your current prescription medications. It’s possible you’ve been given a stimulant, which is the exact opposite of what you want to be taking if you’re trying to get some sleep.
Don’t Lay Awake For Longer Than 20 Minutes
Have you ever gone to lay in bed after feeling a little tired, only to lay there for an hour completely unable to fully doze off? We all have, and the longer you stay awake, the harder it is to actually fall asleep. Instead, give yourself 20 minutes. If you haven’t fallen asleep by then, get up and occupy yourself with an activity from your nighttime routine that’ll make you feel sleepy. Once you’re on the verge of falling asleep, try getting back into bed.
Write Down Your Responsibilities On Paper
Often times, it’s our major responsibilities or looming future tasks that keep us from falling asleep at night. One way to stop those stressful thoughts from revving through your mind is to get them written down on paper. Not only does it help free your mind, but it makes you more likely to take care of those responsibilities — similar to how you’re more likely to accomplish your New Year’s resolutions if you write them down.
About the author
McKenzie Dillon is a blogger and sleep enthusiast for The Slumber Yard, a reviews site that focuses on bedding products. In her free time, she likes attending music festivals, reading fiction novels and practicing yoga.