How to sleep better when you have anxiety?
Anxiety is a great source of sleep hindering. Not only does it interrupt our sleep at night, but it also affects our day.
The decisions made during the daytime are best made after a full night of rest. There have been many people who made decisions that have affected the long-term, all because they didn’t get the sleep that they should have. It’s vital to deal with the anxiety before you even attempt to go to sleep.
Your body will thank you for that as well you find yourself more uplifted with a more positive attitude. It’s that positive attitude that helps to reduce anxiety.
Sleep and Wake at the Same Time Every day
This may seem difficult as well as challenging at first, but the benefits that you’re going to gain from going to bed at the same time every day are going to be massive.
By going to bed at the same time every day you are teaching your body to anchor itself to get ready to sleep.
What happens when you wake up at the same time every day is that you can expose yourself to the early morning sunlight 15 to 30 minutes. This sunlight is very crucial as well as it sets your internal clock.
In the winter months, consider using a lightbox.
No matter what you, do not change your hours for the weekend or holidays. By doing this, you throw yourself out of whack.
I know for myself there are some Saturdays or Sundays where I wish that I could sleep that one extra hour. But I also know that one extra hour will make it harder for me to sleep that night.
Weekend insomnia turns into weekday insomnia!
By having a fixed sleep and wake time, you gain many benefits such as:
- More natural to wake up in the morning
- Move faster in the morning
- Less chance of insomnia
- Alertness is improved
- Better memory
- Your mood is more uplifted
- You tend to be less irritable
- Better job performance
First thing when morning comes is you want to avoid hitting the snooze button. Which, unfortunately, many of us do.
Hey! I’m guilty of that as well.
Your body wants consistency — anything that throws our body out of unity, it pays for it later in different ways.
Is it your inner critical thinker who stops you from sleeping? Read my last post on how to beat your inner critical voice to get some sleep.
Have Large Meals 4 Hours Before Bedtime
People have late dinners, usually an hour or two before bedtime. This is the worst thing they can do for themselves.
Not only does the meal just sit there, but it also piles on the weight.
Indigestion is a significant hindrance when we’re trying to sleep. For instance, I had to have a colon resection many years ago. Eighteen inches of my colon was removed. If I want to have a good night’s sleep, I have to have my meal at least six hours before bedtime.
My colon doesn’t function like a healthy colon. I have to pay extra care to how I eat, what I eat as well when I eat.
Lying down on a full stomach can also cause acid to come back up. This is especially bad for people who have acid reflux disease.
Our bodies are not designed to eat big meals and then go to bed. Sitting upright helps us to digest our food because gravity helps to get the job done.
Our stomach takes about three hours to empty itself, which means if you were to eat right before bedtime, your stomach would spend the whole night trying to empty itself out. This would cause you to toss and turn all night long.
By avoiding eating before bedtime, you also have a better ability to manage your blood sugar levels. What happens over time is if we keep eating right before bed, our body becomes more susceptible to developing insulin resistance as well as diabetes.
Exercise in the Evening
Try to get your workout later in the evening, possibly even after you have eaten your dinner. This not only helps to digest your dinner, but it also helps you to get tired to go to sleep.
There is a myth out there that exercise in the evening will keep you awake. This myth has been debunked many times.
Because exercise day or night does help you to sleep better at night, most of us by evening time have some stress going on in our lives. What exercise does is it reduces stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol.
When exercising you release endorphins, these are the chemicals that are responsible for helping people feel relaxed as well optimistic.
When you’re feeling relaxed sleep is natural.
Take Your Time Winding Down
Never force yourself to go to sleep. Let it happen naturally. One of the best ways I find that sleep comes naturally is if I start to wind down about an hour before bedtime.
My winding down includes:
- Reading a book
- Having a warm shower
You could have different ways to wind down. See what works for you. What works for one person may not work for another.
Winding down is essential because you let your body know, hey it’s time to start cooling down. Your body then starts to go into rest mode.
When our body goes into rest mode, it prepares itself to go to sleep. If we were to do some exciting activity before bedtime, our brain would have a hard time shutting down.
Find some activities that are quiet and calming for you. Let your body know what it should expect of you.
Tense to Relax Your Muscles One At A Time
One of the things that work for me at night – especially on those nights I can’t sleep – is to perform the action of tensing and relaxing one muscle in the body at a time.
I find that starting with my feet, working my way up is the most soothing to me. You can start with your head and work your way down as well.
The best time to do this is when you’re laying down. The more your muscles begin to relax, the easier it is to fall asleep.
Muscle relaxing not working, read my post on home remedies to help you fall asleep faster.
If You Have Trouble Sleeping – Get Up and Do Something Relaxing
Sometimes what happens in people who are feeling like they’re fully awake, they force themselves to sleep. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work.
If this happens what I usually do is get up to do something relaxing. Do not stimulate your mind. By stimulating your mind, you’re going to push yourself into a more wakeful state.
One of the first things I do when I have trouble falling asleep is trying to figure out why or what’s bothering me. Unresolved issues that induce anxiety, unless dealt with will not go away.
Sometimes gentle stretches, as well as deep breathing exercises, also help. Racing or nagging thoughts prevent us from nodding off. Maybe try writing down your anxiety-inducing worries on paper so you can sleep better.
Nighttime is usually the time when our minds tend to get busier as well as our muscles tense up. This would be a great time to start relaxing your muscles one at a time. Turning your bed into a haven of comfort and relaxation is the best thing you can do for yourself.
Keep this area only for sleeping. Otherwise, stay out of there when you are doing any type of mind-stimulating exercise.
Nap No Later Than 3 pm
First off, I have to say I’m not a person who naps. Never have been or never will be.
But I know plenty of nappers. My sister loves to nap; then she complains that she can’t sleep at night. When we nap, it takes away from the rest that we’re hoping to get at night.
It’s okay to nap early in the day. Even a 20-minute power nap in the day is okay. It’s not okay if you do it after 3 PM, because you’re cutting into your sleep time.
Another thing is some people can’t nap unless they are in their own bed. Which then gets your mind associating napping and going to bed at night as the same thing.
When your mind can’t differentiate that you are going to bed or having a nap, it becomes hard for your mind to learn how to induce sleep when you actually need it, which is at bedtime.
For some napping is similar to a whole night’s sleep. If a person gets their whole sleep in a 20-minute nap, there’s no way they’re going to be able to sleep at night.
I’m not saying naps are bad for you, as a matter of fact, study suggests they are good for you. They actually help to lower rates of cardiovascular disease as well as inflammation.
But there is a time to do them, which is before 3 pm. If you nap too much during the daytime, some studies have linked regular daytime napping with the high risk of type II diabetes as well as cardiovascular disease and even death.
Keep Your Room Clean
I know for a fact that if my room is not clean, my heart starts to race. If I see my clothes strewn all over the place, it just makes me feel like the clothes own the space, not myself.
When that kind of anxious feeling kicks in, sleep is probably the furthest thing from my mind. The anxiety of a messy room overrides the need to sleep.
Keeping your room clean, also initiate inside cleanliness. It also helps us to de-clutter our mind because the comfort that comes from having a non-messy room helps us in knowing we own our own space.
My last thoughts on how to sleep better when you have anxiety is deal with your anxiety-inducing thoughts before they get the better of you. Once they cut into your sleep, it becomes a merry-go-round. By this I mean you’re just chasing your thoughts, which cuts into sleep.
When your sleep is cut short, your back chasing the thoughts again. For some, this can go on all night. Hopefully, some of the suggestions I have for you will help you get a night of better sleep.
Let me know in the comments below how you release anxiety when going to bed at.
Reading is my favorite thing to do. But other than reading, I enjoy discovering new techniques on how to do something in simpler methods. My daughter likes to call me the Renaissance woman. So I do have to live up to the name.
One of my main issues is sleeping, so I’m always searching for new ways to get a good night sleep, I’m more than happy to share them with you.
My posts are either geared towards pain or self-help. Pain posts because I suffer from ongoing cancer pain. In the past 6 years of my fight with cancer, I have learned many ways to deal with pain, especially when going to bed.
The self-help posts come from my work as a mental health counselor for over 15+ years. My background in counseling training is from UFV and RRU. I also have personal trainer certification from IFA, so I might throw in some exercise posts as well.