Start Getting More Restful Sleep
Do your racing thoughts make it difficult to get to sleep at night? Do you wake up in the middle of the night fearful and then you have trouble falling asleep again?
Having difficulty sleeping is a common symptom of anxiety. This includes trouble falling asleep, and waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to get back to sleep.
The problem is often cyclical: anxiety and stress can impact your sleep, and not getting enough sleep can increase your anxiety and stress levels. If you find yourself getting frustrated late at night because you just can’t get the sleep you know you need… keep reading for my tips on how to start getting more restful sleep.
The Importance Of Sleep For Anxiety
There is no question that sleep is immensely important for our brains to function properly and for our mental health.
Sleep deprivation negatively affects your mood and decision-making skills, among other important processes. And being in a bad mood can often make anxiety worse, because it then becomes easier to think negatively, catastrophize, and start to become more fearful.
Sleep helps your body repair from stress and improves your memory. Getting more sleep improves your mental health, resulting in increased productivity, emotional wellness, and overall mood.
Keep A Sleep Diary
The first step to getting more restful sleep is beginning to pay attention to your current sleeping habits. There are numerous ways to track your sleep, including an activity tracker or watch, keeping a sleep journal, or taking notes on your phone.
It’s helpful to understand what your current patterns are when it comes to sleep, so you can get an idea of whether you have difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or getting back to sleep in the middle of the night.
Additionally, it can help you understand how much sleep you need to feel fully rested. The average person needs between 7-9 hours of sleep per night, but each and every person is different- so use your data to help you determine how much sleep you need.
Track your sleep for a few days, a week, or a month- however long you need to understand how your lack of sleep influences your mood and mental health and why.
Tips To Get More Restful Sleep
Keep reading for five tips on how to cope with a lack of sleep due to anxiety.
Make A To-Do List Or Journal Before Bed
The number one thing that I have noticed keeps my clients up at night is overthinking. So many of us have stressful thoughts, worries, and responsibilities that keep us up at night. I promise, you are not alone. It often seems as though the wee hours of the night are the moments when worries seem the most catastrophic.
One thing that can help to stop overthinking and ease anxiety at night is to write down your worries or tasks before going to bed. This can help to literally get thoughts out of your mind, so that they are not circling around in your head and preventing you from getting restful sleep.
Turn Off Technology At Least 30 Minutes Before Bedtime
Technology such as cell phones, computers, and television emits a blue light that stops your brain from creating melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that your brain produces that results in your body preparing for sleep. As an alternative to using technology, you can read, do gentle stretching, or meditate instead.
Relax Your Body
Relaxation is primarily physical. Relaxing your body physically can help your body calm down, and take the focus from your thoughts
Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and focusing on the physical sensations in your body can be very helpful and effective methods to help you get to sleep at night.
Click here for step-by-step instructions for my favorite relaxation techniques for anxiety.
Exercise Earlier In The Day
Anxiety builds up in your body physically, often through tension and excess energy. Exercise is a very effective way to manage your anxiety in the daytime, and can also help you feel more tired at night if you are getting that excess energy out during the day. It may be more helpful to exercise earlier in the day, because sometimes people can have difficulty getting to bed if they exercise within a few hours of going to sleep.
Create A Soothing Bedtime Routine
Start experimenting with different relaxing routines to get your mind and body in the mindset of starting to wind down at night.
Some examples include:
Experiment with different activities, and start your routine thirty minutes to one hour before your bedtime.
Listen To A Guided Meditation, Podcast, Or Soothing Sounds
I know this may contradict turning off your technology thirty minutes before bedtime, but if you are having massive difficulty with turning off your thoughts at night, you may need some sort of distraction. Check out these suggestions if you are struggling to turn off your brain at night:
Don’t Beat Yourself Up
Not being able to sleep when you know you should be can be very frustrating. Do your best to be accepting and let go of that frustration. The more frustrated, annoyed, or irritated you feel about not being able to sleep, the harder it will actually be to get to sleep!
If you are tossing and turning in bed for an extended amount of time, it may be best to get up and do something relaxing until you feel tired enough to get back into bed.
I hope these tips were helpful. Good luck with getting a good night’s rest!