Getting Quality Sleep When You Have Anxiety

By: Elashia Rosado-Cartagena, UWO Peer Wellness Educator

Getting Quality Sleep When You Have Anxiety

We have all experienced nights where anxiety and overthinking has caused effect on our ability to get adequate sleep. Anxiety is defined as “Your body’s natural response to stress, it is a feeling of apprehension or fear about what’s to come or persistent worry of everyday situations” (Healthline,2018)  Researchers found that the relationship between sleep problems and anxiety is bidirectional, meaning that sleep problems can cause anxiety and anxiety can disrupt your sleep. (Smith, 2017).

If you are apart of the 18 %  of Americans who are diagnosed with some kind of anxiety disorder then you know all too well how hard it can be to calm your brain down when it’s time for bed.. Though it seems like you may never get your brain  out of that fight or flight mode, perhaps making some small changes in your routine may help you relax when it comes to bed time.

Tips that you can use to help calm your mind before bed

1.) One of the first tips that you can do is add exercise to your day, people who regularly exercise tend to fall asleep faster and have a more sound sleep then people who do not regularly work out. For example taking 30 minutes to do a brisk walk or another single moderate-intensity workout has helped people who suffer with chronic insomnia improve their sleep

2.) Another tip that you can do is to write down all of your to dos for the week in your planner so that you are not worrying about if you forgot to do anything important. So, by the time bedtime rolls around your brain is not swirling around all of the things that you don’t want to forget about.

3.)  A great tip is to steer clear of stressful activities before bed such as paying a bill, staying away from a heated social media exchange,  skipping the evening news or not checking that professors email right before your about to wind down. Even putting your phone on do not disturb can help your brain to wind down and prepare for bed.

4.)  Take time to wind down, having a healthy bedtime routine gives your mind and body the time it needs to be able to slow down before it is time to turn off the lights. Try to play quiet calming music or sounds ( such as rain, waves, soft piano) 30 minutes before you lay down. You can also wind down by reading a book or taking a hot bath.

5.) Try to do a relaxation exercise in bed such as the “tense and relax”, start this exercise by squeezing your toes for several seconds and relax them. Then do the same things with your lower legs and continue to do the same to the rest of your body. You can repeat this until you feel the tension leaving your body.

6.) Don’t lie awake in bed. If you are unable to fall asleep for more than twenty minutes move to another room, keep the lights dim, and do something relaxing (not checking emails, going on your phone or watching tv). Instead try to read a book, making yourself a cup of herbal tea and once you feel drowsy return back to your bed and rest. Sleep is something that our body needs to be healthy. Hopefully using some of these tips may help you to regain some control when it comes to putting your brain to rest for the night.

Sources:

Ducharme, Jamie. “Almost 40% of Americans Are Becoming More Anxious.” Time, Time, https://time.com/5269371/americans-anxiety-poll/.

Foundation, National Sleep. “Don’t Let Anxiety Or Stress Keep You Up All Night Counting Sheep.” National Sleep Foundation, 2 Mar. 2018, https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/how-does-anxiety-affect-sleep.

Holland, Kimberly. “Anxiety: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, and More.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 29 Mar. 2019, https://www.healthline.com/health/anxiety.

Holmes, Lindsay. “What Really Works When You’re Too Anxious To Fall Asleep.” HuffPost, HuffPost, 7 Dec. 2017, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/thinking-before-sleep_n_6572262.

Smith, Kathleen. “Anxiety and Sleep: 6 Tips to Improve Sleep and Manage Anxiety.” Psycom.net – Mental Health Treatment Resource Since 1986, 8 Nov. 2013, https://www.psycom.net/anxiety-and-sleep/.