Make Your Bedroom Comfortable
Help your mind and body to switch off for sleep by creating the optimum, restful sleeping environment. Treat yourself to new pillows, turn your mattress, and change your pillowcases every week, and invest in low lighting next to your bedside.
Quick tip:using a mattress topper is an affordable way to add a little extra comfort to the bed without breaking the bank.
How Can I Make Living With Sleep Anxiety Easier
Anxiety or sleep problems can affect every aspect of your life, from your performance at work to your interactions with others. It may help to talk about your sleep anxiety with a therapist, co-workers, friends or loved ones. Support groups can also connect you to a community of people dealing with similar experiences.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Sleep anxiety is a feeling of fear or stress about falling asleep or staying asleep. Sleep problems and mental health disorders such as anxiety are closely intertwined. One can often make the other worse, so it can feel like a never-ending cycle. But anxiety and sleep problems are both treatable. Talk to your healthcare provider about your symptoms and work together to build the right treatment plan. Common treatments include cognitive behavioral therapy , good sleep hygiene and medication.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 06/13/2021.
Managing Noise And Light
Additionally, if you have to look at your phone, computer, or another electronic device, lower the brightness. You can download an app that automatically lowers screen brightness at sunset.
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What To Do When You Cant Sleep: 9 Tips
Prioritizing a good nights sleep isnt just important for your general health, it can also help with feelings of anxiety, as your body is less likely to feel overwhelmed or on edge when youve slept well.
However, falling asleep can be difficult, so its important to build a strategy for a better nights sleep. Below are some tips to try in order to improve your chances of falling asleep naturally.
Limit Caffeine And Drinks
If youre a coffee or tea drinker, youll be wise to stop taking in caffeine after noon. Give your body plenty of time off from caffeinated drinks during the afternoon and evening to avoid insomnia. Beware that even decaffeinated coffee often contains small amounts of caffeine. Consider herbal coffee as a sleep-friendly alternative later in the day.
Its also smart to limit any type of beverages after 7 p.m. . A full bladder can wake you in the middle of the night. The process of getting out of your warm bed, turning on a bathroom light and washing your hands afterward can interfere with your good nights rest.
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Identify Your Stress Trigger And Deal With It Early In The Day
If you can figure out the source of your new worries, do it. This way, you can mentally handle it in a productive way well before bedtimesay, right after dinner, says Dr. Foldvary. You want to work on it early, away from the bedroom, she says. Ruminate, think through the stressor. A lot of my patients keep a worry journal to write out their feelings. This helps put away your anxiety before bed. If you can quiet your mind before you lay down, youre less likely to toss and turn. The habit of ruminating in bed can turn acute insomnia into chronic insomnia, says Dr. Foldvary. Yikes.
A Final Thought On Falling Back Asleep
One thing sleep doctors agree on: falling asleep should be effortless, and trying too hard can backfire. One specialist, Dr. Dev Banerjee, recalls asking a patient what he did to fall back asleep, âThe guy said, âI say to myself, I must fall asleep, I must fall asleep!ââ And of course, the result was the opposite. âSo I suggested that he repeats silently to himself, âI must stay awake, I must stay awake.â He tried it, and it actually worked.â
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Emphasize Relaxation One To Two Hours Before Bedtime
In the evening hours, decrease stimulation as much as possible. Dim the lights and slow things down. Do something you find relaxing, such as reading while wearing blue light blocking glasses, practicing gentle yoga without doing any inversions, or taking a warm bath. As much as possible, make relaxation the theme of the evening. If certain tasks are unavoidable, then practice doing them in a slower, more relaxed manner.
At dinner, eat a combination of high-quality proteins and complex carbohydrates, like quinoa mixed with sautéed greens or baked chicken breast sprinkled with roasted pumpkin seeds. For dessert, try a bowl of fresh tart cherries or a frozen yogurt made with frozen tart cherries and coconut milk. Then, right before bed, consider taking a supplement such as magnesium glycinate, a popular sleep aid that works to reduce the stress of the nervous system and promote a steady state of relaxation.*
Try A White Noise Machine To Help You Fall Asleep
A low level of constant noise can be useful for distracting your anxious mind, shifting the focus away from troubling thoughts to the constant noise produced from a white noise machine. A simple fan also does the trick as does a sleep app on your phone. Just make sure that the volume is quite low barely audible to keep sound in the background.
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Listen To Calming Music Or White Noise
A Stanford University study found that listening to relaxing music and sounds serves as a highly effective stress reducer. The Sleep Council offers a series of Nodcasts with calming sounds such as birds, rain, and waves to help you fall asleep. Other people find that using a white noise machine can be helpful to drown out any sudden or sharp noises that might wake you up. The University of Nevada at Reno lists several YouTube resources for calming music. If you are having trouble falling asleep, turn on relaxing music and try to stay focused on listening to it instead of the worried thoughts filling your head. It might take some practice, but a full nights sleep will be well worth the effort.
Set Yourself Up For Healthy Sleep When Stressed And Anxious
If you try all of these steps and still struggle to sleep soundly, consider reaching out to your doctor or a sleep expert for support. Treatments for a generalized anxiety disorder or a sleep disorder can vary significantly.
One mental health treatment, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia , is an evidence-based therapeutic technique that looks at the interplay of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that can impact sleep.
Your sleep and anxiety are interconnected. Finding ways to better manage one will ultimately help you find relief with the other.
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Do I Need To See A Doctor To Figure Out Why I Cant Sleep At Night
There are so many reasons why you might have trouble falling asleep fast . But theres a difference between tossing and turning due to lifestyle factors you can change and feeling tired or not sleeping because of a sleep disorder, like insomnia, narcolepsy, or sleep apnea.
If youre dealing with disturbed sleep for more than a few weeks, it might be time to work with your doctor to see if there are underlying health issues at play, the Mayo Clinic says, especially if sleep deprivation is severely impacting your quality of life.
The Cleveland Clinic suggests tracking your symptomssay, by keeping a sleep diaryand letting your doctor know about whats going on as soon as possible. This is particularly important if you already have a medical condition or if you snore, as it can be a sign of obstructive sleep apnea, a condition in which you intermittently stop breathing while you sleep, Dr. Malow says.
When you see your doctor, they might conduct a physical exam or run certain lab tests to try and figure out if a health problem might be affecting your ability to fall asleep, according to the Mayo Clinic. They also might have you keep a sleep journal and fill out a questionnaire to assess your sleepiness and wakefulness. If your doctor suspects you have sleep apnea or another sleep disorder, they may connect you with a specialist or sleep center for further evaluation, including a comprehensive sleep study.
Getting Physical: Yoga Running Dancing Tai Chi
In order to get a good nights sleep and deal with anxiety, you have to act long before bedtime. Physical activity and regular exercise have been stated by medical professionals and researchers as one of the most effective ways of combating physical and mental conditions.
Physical activity can significantly reduce stress levels, improve cognitive function and help your mind and body to relax. Simply put, the benefits of physical activity and exercise extend to every aspect of your life, even beyond anxiety and sleep problems.
Studies have shown that a basic 10-minute walk can relieve the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
A 45-minute workout can help you combat anxiety completely for the day. The reason for this lies in the fact that physical activity elevates the mood by helping the body produce endorphins. These are the chemicals that act as a bodys natural painkillers, stress-reducers and of course, sleep promoters.
People who exercise regularly, and lead an active life are 25% less likely to develop or experience anxiety, as well as sleeping problems. Heres a list of best exercises you can do to decrease anxiety levels and improve sleep
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Aromatherapy Diffuser And Essential Oil Set
Aromatherapy is a great self-care tool because its said to help improve pain levels and relieve stress.
In particular, while research is somewhat limited on essential oils, lavender oil is one thats generally considered a natural sleep aid. For example, one older study found that lavender increased the amount of slow and deep wave sleep.
Thats why this diffuser and essential oil set is a great tool to help you work aromatherapy into your nightly routine. Plus, the wood diffuser will look cute on your bedside.
Sense a pattern here? Products that give you something calming to focus on before bed are a great idea because they help take your mind off your worries.
Lighting a scented candle before bed is a great way to do that.
Homesick makes a whole line of candles designed to evoke the smells of your home state or specific memories so its pretty easy to find a scented candle that youll find calming.
Consider Tracking Your Sleep
When it comes to the new year, new goals centered around analyzing your sleep are both easily actionable and can lead to some intriguing data for you. First off, sleep tracking is super simple these days thanks to apps that anyone can download, such as Sleep Cycle, Sleep Genius, and Pillow. Thanks to the information gathered by these apps, you can grow your understanding of your particular sleep needs. Your phone can gather information about levels of deep and light sleep, which you can in turn use to adapt, improve, and optimize how you sleep.
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Regulate The Temperature In Your Room
Light gets a lot of credit for encouraging your circadian rhythm to do its job, but temperature also plays a role. As SELF previously reported, a room thats between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit tends to be most peoples sleepy-time sweet spot. If you cant regulate the temperature in your room, consider switching up your bedding or sleeping in lighter pajamas to get your ideal sleep temperature.
Create A Routine To Power Down Your Brain
Most people assume that sleep is like breathing: Your body will just do it. Not true. Modern-day living has created so much stimulation during the day that brains now operate at warp speed, and if you dont give yours time to rest, itll continue going at that speed at bedtime, says David Brodner, MD, founder of and principal physician at the Center for Sinus, Allergy, and Sleep Wellness in Boynton Beach, Florida.
At least 30 minutes before you go to bed, start your preparations and then do something relaxing like listening to music or reading. Keep it consistent, and youll train your body to expect sleep after that relaxation period.
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When Stress Leads To Extreme Fatigue
Sleepiness is one thing, but some people experience intense fatigue during periods of high stress to the point where it can be debilitating. Experts have a few theories as to why, the first being that the fight-or-flight response simply taxes the bodys energy levels.
Because it is so metabolically expensive to keep the body on high alert, sleepiness may occur so that the body can replenish that energy, Prather said.
Others think that sleep is a coping mechanism for stress, because it can be so exhausting and unpleasant.
Under periods of stress, many people choose to spend excess time in bed, and often fall asleep, as a way of escaping from the stress, Prather explained. Because sleep, at least in the short term, can provide some relief from the distress, sleeping behavior can be reinforced.
Prather said that if you consistently use sleep as a means to escape stressful life periods, wanting to climb into your covers can become increasingly hard to resist and habitual.
The last theory is that your brain simply can only handle so much stressful content.
Theres the possibility that the brain can only hold so much emotional information, and sleep helps clear some space and help figure out which daily experiences need to be put in long-term memory storage and what can be discarded, Prather said. Stress can produce high-arousal emotional information, and thus sleep may be needed earlier than usual.
So What Can You Do To Calm Down So You Can Actually Sleep
Well, first off, theres no substitute for seeking help from a mental health professional.
An anxiety or trauma therapist, in particular, can help work with you to reduce your anxiety and panic symptoms.
According to Hahn, there are specific treatments, like EMDR or sensorimotor psychotherapy, which can be helpful in resetting your nervous system and settling your overactive amygdala thats causing your anxiety disorder.
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Treating Insomnia With A Better Sleep Environment And Routine
Two powerful weapons in the fight against insomnia are a quiet, comfortable bedroom and a relaxing bedtime routine. Both can make a big difference in improving the quality of your sleep.
Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, and cool. Noise, light, a bedroom thats too hot or cold, or an uncomfortable mattress or pillow can all interfere with sleep. Try using a sound machine or earplugs to mask outside noise, an open window or fan to keep the room cool, and blackout curtains or an eye mask to block out light. Experiment with different levels of mattress firmness, foam toppers, and pillows that provide the support you need to sleep comfortably.
Stick to a regular sleep schedule. Support your biological clock by going to bed and getting up at the same time every day, including weekends. Get up at your usual time in the morning even if youre tired. This will help you get back in a regular sleep rhythm.
Turn off all screens at least an hour before bed. Electronic screens emit a blue light that disrupts your bodys production of melatonin and combats sleepiness. So instead of watching TV or spending time on your phone, tablet, or computer, choose another relaxing activity, such as reading a book or listening to soft music.
Avoid stimulating activity and stressful situations before bedtime. This includes checking messages on social media, big discussions or arguments with your spouse or family, or catching up on work. Postpone these things until the morning.
Get Up Rather Than Lying There
If you cant sleep, its important that you dont stay lying in bed youre likely to get more stressed about being awake, which isnt very useful when youre trying to drift off to sleep.
Instead, get up and do something that requires your hands and head, like a jigsaw puzzle, colouring-in book, or reorganising your wardrobe. Then once you feel sleepy, you can head back to bed.
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Maintain A Consistent Sleep Schedule
Going to bed and waking up at the same times each day is one of the pillars of sleep hygiene those guidelines sleep docs recommend for ensuring a good nights sleep. It helps the mind, too. If you try to go to bed early, when your brains not ready to sleep, it will focus on other things, Breus says, which keeps the brain excited and awake.