Have you ever found yourself staring at the ceiling in the middle of the night wondering why you are awake? Or, when you go to bed, do you feel like your brain is on hyper-drive and refusing to wind down to allow you to get some much-needed sleep?
The National Institute of Mental Health in America predicts the number of people who are struggling with anxiety is very high and on the rise. About 18% of adults suffer from anxiety and some experts suggest that the actual number may be much higher as anxiety often goes unreported.
But, what does anxiety have to do with not getting enough sleep? The correlation is clear and reciprocal. When we go to bed for sleep, anxiety pops up and stirs the tranquility of our minds. Insomnia can be a cause of further anxiety for some, creating a vicious cycle. So, is it that the anxiety causing poor sleep, or is it the other the way around? According to sleep experts, one feeds off with the other. More often than not, anxiety and poor sleep quality find a way to creep into our lives together.
But, don’t worry, there are ways you can fight anxiety and relax at bedtime. Below, we have shared some effective ways for calming your mind and getting a good night’s sleep.
Get prepared for a calm night
Actively make time every day to unwind, even (actually, especially) when you are very busy. Follow a simple and easy bedtime routine to deal with tension. One easy way to calm down is to practice breathing in and out deeply and slowly for 3-5 minutes. Another way is to take a trip down memory lane to relive a happy and peaceful time. You can do these things at any time of the day when you are feeling stressed. Remember to do them before bed as well, regardless of how many times you have done them throughout the day.
Learn to feel gratitude
Most religions place importance on having gratitude for inner peace. Several studies have shown how beneficial expressing gratitude can be for a person’s mental health. When you appreciate and are thankful for what you have, you become more productive and happier. As a result, nighttime worries will be less severe and sleep should come easier. Learn to be grateful by consciously thinking about 3 things in your life you are grateful for. Try to do this every night before you drift off. Click here for our mindfulness sleep exercise printables.
Leave the bedroom when you can’t sleep
If you find yourself tossing and turning while staring at the clock, give up trying. Your bed is there for you to sleep and sex only – there is no room for worrying in the bed. Leave the bedroom and engage in something relaxing and mundane like reading a book or folding laundry. When you feel relaxed and sleepy, head into the bedroom and try again.
Lock up your worries with paper and a pen
For many of us, a swirling tornado of anxieties hits the brain exactly when we need to stop worrying about them. Bedtime is often a time when your mind debriefs on the day past and considers what needs to be achieved the following day. Unfortunately, these thoughts are often worrying and can cause stress at night. If this is the case, get out of bed and start writing. Using a sleep journal can help you to let go of your thoughts and feelings by putting them in a book. If you choose to write about what’s stopping you sleeping, what your worries are, what you have recently eaten etc. you may notice some patterns that can help you overcome insomnia. If you don’t like to journal, just write a to do list on a piece of paper, so that your mind does not need to hold on to thoughts of what to do tomorrow. Check out the special technique for shedding your worries at night in this article.
It is well-known that meditation brings people relaxation and helps them focus. Meditation supports relaxation and paves the way for sound sleep. You can seek help from professionals or find a guided meditation online or in an app. It is a matter of personal preference, how you choose to meditate. Beginners usually start with a guided meditation recording. Listen to meditation in a comfortable position, in a quiet space where you won’t be interrupted. For a run-down of other relaxation techniques that can aid sleep click here.
White noise machines
You may have noticed that repetitive sounds and patterns soothe the mind. This is the concept on which white noise machines are based. A constant sound, like white noise, specifically designed to block out all noises of other frequencies can help relax a distracted mind. If you don’t have a white noise machine, some people report that a fan can have a similar effect. Relaxing music, particularly classical music has also been prove to aid relaxation.
If anxiety and/or insomnia are having a lasting negative effect on your life, don’t be afraid to seek help. Your GP will be able to guide you in the right direction. However, if you want to you could directly contact a psychologist or sleep coach for help. You deserve good sleep!
Please note: This article is not to be used as medical advice. This post may contain affiliate links.
Jennifer is the Sleeping products expert and merchandise tester. She’s adamant about sleep health and knows just how important it is to our well-being. Jennifer reports, writes, and edits sleep health and sleep industry news at sleepingpark.