Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
Keeping up with your circadian rhythm is an important way to help you cope with sleep anxiety. Anxiety loves chaos and not keeping the same bedtime is a form of chaos. Your body has an inbuilt clock which is important to keep up with because this circadian rhythm also coincides with the timing of the production of some of your hormones including melatonin, cortisol, and insulin.
This circadian rhythm allows your body to sleep better and deeper for that good restorative sleep.
When your body and mind are in sync with your internal clock, you are likely to fall asleep easier and have less fretful anxious nights.
To avoid disrupting this circadian rhythm, keep naps short-15 to 20 minutes, and avoid sleeping in even on weekends or your days off.
Meditation, Yoga, and mindfulness
Finding ways to really relax your body and mind is important.
Yoga and meditation are good ways to quiet and calm your mind.
Bedtime anxiety is caused by the inability to control intrusive thoughts and quiet the mind.
And yoga for bedtime helps a lot.
Meditation helps you release all the tension and stress from your day and encourages deep sleep.
You can try an app like Headspace to get some guided meditations, or even try sleep hypnosis such as this one
Here are also some yoga poses you can practice at bedtime to help your mind and body relax enough to fall asleep.
Have a night routine
A night routine is so important to keep your mind calm and prevent sleep anxiety.
The brain thrives on routines and planned expectations.
Having a bedtime routine is one of the best things you can do if you have anxiety at bedtime.
First of all, it helps you to wind down.
It sends messages to your brain to relax and start slowing down.
You should test to see which activities to include in your routine.
For me, I find that turning off my phone an hour before bed is very helpful.
This helps because you are bound to encounter disturbing information on social media.
Then there is the blue light that dims and stops melatonin production.
You need that melatonin to sleep faster and to stay asleep.
Then I like to take a nice long bath with some magnesium salts and lavender oil.
Other great relaxing oils you may want to try to include Bergamot, ylang-ylang, vetiver, and frankincense.
These oils calm the mind and alleviate insomnia.
I always brew and drink a calming cup of tea. I swear by my calming teas.
These days I love this Numi sleep time tea.
I also choose from several including chamomile, Peppermint, and certain other blends that I love. Here is a list of best teas for anxiety to try.
I normally read as I lay in bed just before I fall asleep. I sip at one of my anxiety teas as I read a book.
Right now I am reading the Middle Finger Project. Love it!
Find a good book, something light is best.
You can also read a book of positive quotes or good self-help and inspiring books. Sometimes I just want a simple funny novel.
I also practice my mindful affirmations. I love these mindful message affirmation cards. Nothing like going to sleep on a positive note and frame of mind.
Journaling is a great thing to include in your sleep time routine to wind down.
You can just do a brain dump of all thoughts and worries you may have.
Having a worry journal is helpful. When those thoughts start, you whip out your worry journal and dump it all in there.
A worry journal can just be a notebook.
I like to use this pretty notebook for my worries. I write them down, and that gets them out of my mind.
It relieves my mind so I am able to relax.
You may also rehash your day -the good the bad and the ugly.
Put it all in the journal.
This is like sharing with a trusted confidant who listens well and it really eases your mind.
It sort of settles these worries for the night -helps you not to keep thinking about them so you are able to fall asleep.
If journaling freely is hard for you I find that it helps to use prompts.
Then you don’t have to think too hard about what to write.
It gives you a starting point.
Journal prompts for anxiety are great for calming the mind.
They show you the reality in a calm empowering way.
You may also just use any other prompts like these journal prompts to guide your journaling.
Make gratitude a part of the nightly routine.
It is so important to take the time to write about all the good things you have been blessed with.
Just before going to bed write 3 or 4 things you are grateful for.
There is always something to be grateful for.
Gratitude has been found to bring about a happier and more content life and if you are content you’re likely to feel relaxed and worry less.
You tend to feel and believe things will work out for good eventually.
Plan your day.
Planning your day before trying to go to sleep helps take off from your mind some of the worries.
It helps you feel in control.
On the days I have done this I feel much at ease and sleep better.
So I try to include planning in my sleep routine.
Just write down everything you have to do the next day. Just dump everything in a notebook or journal.
A good planner is a good way to make long-term and short-term plans as well.
And of course, a pretty journal helps so much.
That really helps you to take it out of your mind.
You trick your mind to think the task is sort of handling.
That way you don’t ruminate on it when you are trying to sleep.
It is a good idea to also decide which of those tasks have priority so you know exactly what to tackle first the next day. A good ide also to list these items according to when they will happen.
Other ways to manage sleep anxiety
When you have sleep anxiety, you have to do all you can, before it is bedtime as well to get a good night’s sleep.
Here are a few other ways to combat nighttime anxiety.
Avoid smoking and alcohol
While you may feel relaxed soon after that glass of wine, drinking too close to bedtime interferes with sleep.
Alcohol keeps you from getting into restorative rem sleep by interfering with certain hormone production such as melatonin while promoting the production of agitating hormones like Norepinephrine (source).
Smoking exposes you to nicotine which is a stimulant.
Besides, smoking narrows your blood vessels, restricts oxygen flow to your vital organs, and that too can make anxiety worse when you re not getting all the oxygen you need to your brain, and your lungs are clouded by COPD.
Avoid eating heavy meals or problem foods especially close to bedtime.
Also, avoid foods that may cause you discomfort.
These may be fatty or very spicy foods.
Be careful not to eat such foods especially soon before going to sleep.
They may cause heartburn, and indigestion, and keep you restless, and that can trigger anxiety.
Some heat burn is soo bad that it feels like a heart attack, and since the heart attack can also feel like heartburn this is a worrisome situation.
You may have to go to the ER, but of course, I always say you should have symptoms like those checked by a doctor right away. It can be a disaster to miss a cardiac event.
Don’t eat large meals before bed either.
A heavy large meal will take time to digest and may cos discomfort and make you feel restless.
Drinking lots of fluids will cause you to wake to go to the bathroom several times.
Again, that means a likelihood of battling restlessness and anxiety again.
Avoid caffeine 8 hours before bed
I know! That is a lot to ask. But caffeine may take up to 8 hours to wear off. So if you want to overcome sleep anxiety then try and avoid coffee at least by 2 pm.
Drinking coffee with caffeine after 2 pm will make you feel jittery and toss and turn and ruminate on all kinds of unhelpful thoughts.
Research shows that caffeine consumed up to 6 hours ago has a significant effect on sleep disturbances, and can affect those with anxiety much more.
Exercise benefits your whole health and also helps you sleep better. When exercise is done at the right time, it will come to your mind before you go to bed and you are more likely to fall asleep faster.
Just make sure not to exercise within the last two hours or close to bedtime.
When you exercise the body is flooded with the happy neurotransmitters that make you feel good, happy, and relaxed long afterward.
That is why running is addictive. What a good addiction though to have. Try it and feel how well you will sleep.
The benefits of exercise include improved blood flow to vital organs like the brain improves mental health and even sleep quality.
Eat a healthy diet.
Really, so many health issues including anxiety and its impact on sleep are made worse by unhealthy food habits.
The American diet and western diet, in general, have become worse and worse over the years with industrialization and food becoming a factory commodity. So much of what we are eating really shouldn’t be called food.
Think about Macaroni and cheese.
If you make it from scratch you get some calcium plus a whole lot of cholesterol, and it is worse if you get it prepackaged. Food should be whole and not processed.
It is best to eat farm-fresh and organic if possible and lots of greens and organic produce.
Also, opt for lean beef and fish that are naturally reared.
These wholesome foods contain nutrients that are required for a healthy mind, and it is an essential part of battling nighttime anxiety.
Think of the B vitamins, minerals like magnesium, calcium, zinc, selenium, omega three fatty acids all of which calm the mind, and are essential for the nervous system and brain health.
But sometimes life gets busy and we are not able to make healthy foods.
And also sometimes due to illnesses or even medications you may be on, or age, nutrients are not absorbed or we just are not consuming enough.
Then supplements are needed.
Take for example vitamin B 12. If you are older or have IBS or other Gi disease your intrinsic cells may not be working, or absorption not happening because you are on a medication like some anti-acids.
These are the supplements we need for better mental health and to reduce nighttime anxiety.
B 6 is used in the production of GABA, and dopamine, and in metabolizing tryptophan into serotonin. Deficiency in B6 can make one nervous and anxious.
Other B vitamins including folate are also important in nervous function.
Deficiency in folate can lead to anxiety and depression and is especially likely if one has an MTHFR gene mutation which causes a defect in folate synthesis into the usable form.
B12 is also involved in nerve function and making red blood cells.
You need oxygen in the brain and without enough red blood cells, little oxygen is available. The brain uses a lot of oxygen.
If your brain cells are not well perfused, you will feel on edge and anxious.
Magnesium deficiency is very common.
Unfortunately, this can cause anxiety and insomnia, as well as other problems that make sleeping hard like headaches, and restless legs.
Many people just don’t get enough magnesium in their diet these days and supplementation is necessary.
But it’s important to know that different types of magnesium are absorbed differently. So be sure to choose the right magnesium.
For brain health, magnesium stearate or citrate may be better.
Lately, I have started taking this magnesium and I find it relaxes me much more.
Have a restful sleep environment
It is important to have a calming sleep environment.
Your bedroom should be a haven of peace and calm.
That means a well-organized room.
Clutter in a bedroom just adds to the anxiety. So take care to keep your bedroom. Declutter and organize often.
Add elements that comfort, soothe you, and are pleasant to the senses.
These may include:
Get some really comfy bedding and mattress for optimal sleep. Investing in some luxurious bedsheets is a great way to promote good sleep.
The bedroom also needs to be cool and comfortable
The optimal sleep temperature for many is about 68 degrees.
You see the body cools down as you fall asleep and a hot room makes it hard to fall asleep making one toss and turn and promote opportunities for anxious thoughts.
When you are comfortable, you are likely to fall asleep faster without giving anxiety any opportunity to take over.
I prefer to use an essential oil diffuser.
Having a calming scent wafting throughout the bedroom is very calming.
A diffuser does actually add to the element of relaxation.
I like a few diffusers but this is the one I use mostly.
Diffuse a calming essential oil such as lavender, or even a combo, like lemon, lavender, and frankincense.
Having a sampling of essential oils will make it easy to choose the combo you want so I just make sure to always have some on hand.
Get a couple of plants
Plants add a zen effect to a room.
And the best part is they actually clean the air.
You need that oxygen to your brain to keep it calm.
And plants are just beautiful. Some you may consider include:
The prayer plant. They are so pretty. I can never have too many of these.
A snake plant. I know, the name may not conjure the thought of sleep but it is a lovely plant and it cleans the air. And they are so gorgeous!
Pothos. There are so many varieties and all so pretty.
Get a white noise machine
I am sure there is research on why white noise machines help calm the mind.
But they do.
Sometimes just having a fan is enough.
I always use a fan and winter or summer I am running that thing when I sleep. It just works to cool me and calm my mind.
Keep your bedroom dark
I vow by my blackout curtains. Then make sure to use a sleep mask. I can never fall asleep easily without one and if I misplace it, it is never a good night.
A dark environment promotes melatonin production.
Melatonin is the hormone of sleep and for you to produce enough the brain requires it to be dark because that cues your brain that it is time to go to sleep.
And that is why we have to keep our cell phones off to avoid the blue light because that sends the message to the brain that hey it is still day time.
The brain has a rhythm. starting at nightfall, it produces melatonin so you can sleep and morning cortisol is produced so you can go and do the amazing work you should be doing at that time.
So encourage your brain to get the cue to make melatonin enough to help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep.
Without enough melatonin, you are likely to feel anxious as you wait on sleep to come to no avail.
Invest in a weighted blanket
A weighted blanket provides deep touch pressure, very much like a loving hug, comforting, and relaxing, and helps release the feel-good hormone oxytocin.
Studies such as this one found that a weighted blanket does indeed bring about deep sleep.
A weighted blanket may also help with the release of serotonin the relaxation and happy neurotransmitter, which is made into melatonin.
So, there are a few ways you can combat nighttime anxiety so you can good restorative sleep every night.
I would love to know which of these ideas to cope with sleep time anxiety you would like to try.
And please, if you found this article helpful, please share it with your friends.