Most of us have been there: you’ve been tired the entire day until you lie on your bed. As soon as you touch that pillow, your brain shifts gears and starts racing. You go on to spend hours rolling around until you pass out.
If that describes your nights, you’re not alone. Anxiety is the most common mental disorder, and it can wreck anyone’s nights. It’s worse when you can’t identify what’s triggering this response.
If you’re tired (no pun intended) of restless nights, you came to the right place.
Anxiety and sleep: What’s the relationship?
Everyone feels anxious now and then. It becomes a problem when it interferes with your daily activities, like sleeping. Essentially, anxiety triggers your flight or fight response. It signals your body to prepare for incoming danger.
That’s a problem when you’re trying to sleep. Physically, you can experience symptoms like muscle tension and increased heartbeat and breathing. Furthermore, anxiety often accompanies depression, which also disrupts your sleep.
How does anxiety affect your sleep?
Insomnia and similar disorders are common anxiety symptoms. Worrying a lot arouses your brain, and increasing its activity prevents you from falling asleep. Additionally, you could feel stressed because you can’t sleep, like worrying about waking up too late.
All these factors make it difficult to fall asleep. Generally, anxiety turns into a seemingly endless cycle of worrying about new things. Sleep disorders cause anxiety, and vice-versa. Your body needs to relax to fall asleep, and tension disrupts the entire process.
How can you calm yourself to fall asleep?
The silver lining is that you’re not alone. There’s been plenty of research on the subject, and many solutions have appeared. From medication to therapy, you have countless options to solve your problem according to what you need.
If you’re looking for immediate relief, you can do a few things as well. While some of these tips focus on the long term, you’ll be surprised by what they can do for you.
Just remember to start slow. Don’t feed your anxiety.
If you like yoga, that’s a great tool. Develop an easy routine to get you ready for sleep. If you don’t, simple breathing exercises can help. Take controlled breaths and focus on your surroundings, not your thoughts.
Once you’re calmer, try to organize your thoughts. Categorize them: work, friends, chores, deadlines, and more. Make a schedule in your brain of how you’re going to tackle them. Finding straight solutions helps you feel rewarded and more relaxed.
Develop a sleep routine
That doesn’t mean a sleep schedule; we’ll touch on that soon. A sleep routine is something you do every night before going to bed. It helps you tell your brain that it’s time to sleep.
You can do anything as long as you build a habit. Just try to keep it relaxing: having a drink or reading a book. You can walk your dog at night as well. Make sure you stick to it every day and do it after you’re done with everything.
Dedicate to your schedule
Build a daily schedule with a special focus on your sleep. Allocate hours solely for your sleep, including your pre-bed routine. Remember to stop everything you’re doing once bedtime arrives.
The critical approach here is to stick to this schedule strictly. You can’t do anything else during your sleep routine and bedtime. If you’re having trouble sleeping your eight hours, try some alternative sleep patterns!
Don’t force yourself
Finally, don’t force yourself to sleep. If you feel like an hour has passed, and you can’t sleep, stop. Get out of bed, drink something, read a book. Do any low-stress activity.
However, try not to turn on blue light devices (TV, phone, laptop, etc.).
The holistic takeaway
Sleeping with anxiety feels like the worst challenge for anyone. It can spiral out of control at any time. You’ll realize hours have passed in what felt like seconds. However, that often means that you’re taking the wrong approach.
The best strategy is not to force your sleep. It’ll merely make things worse. You can’t beat your anxiety by feeling anxious about it. Make sure you take your time to get your mind distracted and sort through your thoughts. You can do it.