Having a sleepless night every once in a while is a pretty common thing for most people. However, if you struggle with anxiety, you might have too many nights where you toss and turn, anxiously staring at the clock and counting down the hours you have until you need to get up, worrying about how you will be able to focus on your day with so little sleep. Anxiety can make it hard for you to get a good night’s sleep, so we have put this guide together for you with tips to help you sleep when you have anxiety.
Keep a Sleep Schedule
Make a set sleep schedule and follow it routinely so that your body will get used to it. While this is not perfect, it can help your body fall asleep easier if it is used to going to sleep around the same time every night. Of course, you can have nights where you stay up late, but try to avoid pushing past your bedtime too often to help your body stay in its new sleep rhythm.
Give Yourself Time to Wind Down
In addition to giving yourself a set bedtime, give yourself a designated time to wind down before you go to bed, whether you are taking a bath, listening to music, meditating, or anything else. Try to give yourself at least 30 minutes to wind down before bed. Having a good transition ritual can help condition your brain to associate these things with getting ready to go to sleep.
Exercise Before Bed
Exercising before bed can help reduce your anxiety because it is good at reducing the production of stress hormones. This can also help reduce any excess energy to help you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly. Even a brisk walk can improve your sleep. However, exercise also can give some people energy, so if this is not helping, try getting your exercise earlier in the day.
Meditate Before Bed
Meditation can help calm your mind and anxiety before bedtime. While meditation does not work for everyone, it is worth trying to work into your bedroom routine. Try to focus on your breathing first; then, you can work on silencing your mind while you do it. You can try using a deep breathing app or guided meditation app to get started. This can help quiet your mind enough to help you fall asleep.
Part of the anxiety that will keep you up at night is your thoughts going on and on, which is why journaling or at least jotting down your worries can be helpful. Sometimes simply getting your thoughts, worries, and feelings out can help your brain wind down because it gives you somewhere to put these thoughts and feelings. If you have a to-do list for tomorrow swirling around in your mind, writing it down will make sure you are not thinking about it all night. Stream-of-consciousness writing can help, too, since it is just getting everything that is on your mind out.
Avoid Stressful Activities Before Bed
You want to reduce your nervous and anxious thoughts before going to bed, so you need to avoid doing something that is going to cause you stress. This includes putting down social media, turning off the news, and leaving work at the door. While doing some light reading or watching a show that you have seen so many times, you are not feeling anxious about what happens next can be a good thing; reading a book you are into or watching a new TV show, you might get too anxious in anticipation of what is going to happen next to fall sleep. It is highly common for people to stay up for one more chapter or episode, then another one, then another one, and so on. Avoid that kind of stress, too, when determining what your wind down routine is going to be.
Don’t Lie in Bed Awake
If you have been lying in bed awake for more than half an hour and still cannot fall asleep, get up and give yourself a do over. Leave your bedroom to have a cup of tea, read another chapter of your book, take a calming shower, or do something else in your wind down routine. It might seem counterproductive to get out of bed when you need to fall asleep, but it can actually help give you a mental reset to help you fall asleep when you go back to bed to give it another try. You will actually lose less sleep this way than if you just stay in bed and fight to fall asleep.