5 Ways to Get a Better Night’s Sleep with Anxiety
Affecting nearly 40 million adults in the United States, anxiety is one of the country’s most common mental health struggles. Sleep disturbances such as insomnia are highly prevalent amongst those who suffer from an anxiety disorder. If you have trouble falling asleep, it may heighten or trigger your anxiety, and vice versa. While it can be difficult for an anxiety sufferer to fall asleep, it’s not impossible; read on for five ways (plus a BONUS!) to get a better night’s sleep.
Physical activity is an important component of overall health. Exercise will produce chemicals in your brain that will help elevate your mood and decrease your stress or tension, which will provide some relief for your anxiety. Exercise will also help you sleep. Not only will the physical exertion improve the quality of your sleep, but it will also help ensure you’re able to sleep without interruption.
Daylight helps set sleep patterns, so try to spend at least 30 minutes outdoors during the day time (bonus points for doing it within an hour of waking). Daylight sun exposure is critical if you have trouble falling asleep because it helps to regulate the body’s circadian clock.
3. Balanced Meals
Studies have shown that people who eat unbalanced meals are more likely to suffer from sleep disturbances. Healthy balanced meals will keep your energy stable which will help you manage your mood and improve your sleep habits. (Balanced meals include: protein + healthy fats + complex carbs).
It’s also important to avoid big meals or alcohol for several hours before bedtime.
4. Night Time Routine
Create a routine that you execute nightly, an hour or two before bedtime. Excellent night-time routines have two components – mental preparation and physical preparation.
Our minds rely on environmental cues to begin producing melatonin, a hormone produced by the brain to prepare our minds and body’s for sleep. Melatonin responds to darkness, and nighttime exposure to light can block melatonin production.
Eliminate all screen time for at least an hour before you intend to sleep. Dim lights around the house and, if possible, wear amber-color glasses.
Our bodies take cues from our behaviors to know when it is time to wind down internal processes in preparation for sleep. Choose a routine of behaviors that you do in roughly the same order every night. These behaviors should include soothing activities, like taking a bath or shower, washing your face, brushing your teeth, light reading (no suspense or Tolstoy!), or soothing music.
I know this is unpopular but I have to say it…going to bed at the same time every night, even on the weekends, is one of the quickest ways to work with your circadian rhythm.
5. A Comfortable Bedroom
Keep your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet, without distractions. Have a window open to keep the room cool and the air smelling fresh. A clean room and clean linens will make your bedroom more inviting. Make sure you have a good quality mattress and pillow to maximize your comfort.
Are you struggling with falling or staying asleep, and need help maintaining healthy sleep habits? A licensed professional can help. Call my office today and let’s schedule an appointment to talk.
Stop the Cycle
If anxious thoughts are keeping you from falling asleep at night, or your work problems are creeping into your fitful dreams, stop the cycle. Talk to a therapist about what these thoughts are working so hard to tell you, and what you can do about it today.