Does this sound familiar? You are still exhausted when you arise and dragging all day long. You are mentally drained but can’t fall asleep because your mind just won’t “shut off.” You may eventually doze off only to toss and turn all night.
If you’re having trouble falling asleep due to anxiety, you can try a few things to help calm your mind and relax your body. Here are eleven suggestions to get you started:
1. Take a deep breath and relax
Practice deep breathing exercises. This simple technique can help you slow your racing thoughts and relax your body. To do this, sit or lie comfortably and take a deep breath through your nose, letting your stomach expand. Hold your breath for a few seconds, then exhale slowly through your mouth. Repeat this several times until you feel yourself starting to relax.
2. Relax your entire body
Try progressive muscle relaxation. Contracting and relaxing different muscle groups in your body help you become more aware of physical sensations and release tension. Start by tensing your toes for a few seconds, then relax them. Move on to your feet, calves, thighs, and so on, working your way up to your head and face.
Avoid screens, including your phone, TV, and computer, for at least an hour before bed, as the blue light they emit can interfere with your body’s production of melatonin, the hormone that helps regulate sleep.
4. Create a Soothing Routine
Create a relaxing bedtime routine. Try taking a warm bath or shower, reading a book, or listening to calming music before bed. A comfortable pattern can signal your body that it’s time to wind down and prepare for sleep.
5. Develop a Relaxing Evening Practice
Use relaxation techniques. You can use many different methods to help yourself relax, including mindfulness meditation, guided imagery, or listening to calming sounds or music. Choose whatever works best for you and try incorporating it into your bedtime routine.
6. Get to the Root of Stress
Try to reduce or eliminate sources of anxiety. If you’re anxious about something specific, try to tackle the problem head-on and devise a plan to address it. If unsure what’s causing your anxiety, consider keeping a journal to track your thoughts and feelings before bed. This can help you identify any patterns or triggers contributing to your stress. Identifying stressors can help reduce the anxiety you feel and make it easier to fall asleep.
7. Make a Relaxing Nest
Create a comfortable sleep environment. Your bedroom should be a calm, quiet, and dark space that is conducive to sleep. Ensure the temperature is cool and that your bed is comfortable and supportive. Consider using a white noise machine or earplugs to block out distractions or noises that might keep you awake.
8. Consider what you Eat and Drink
Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and heavy meals close to bedtime. These can all interfere with your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. Caffeine is a stimulant that can keep you awake, while alcohol can initially make you tired but can disrupt your sleep later in the night.
Heavy meals can cause discomfort and make it difficult to fall asleep. Try to avoid these substances and eat a light, healthy snack instead.
Consider adding the following foods to your evening meals. The foods listed are rich in Tryptophan. They can promote relaxation and sleep. Tryptophan helps make the brain chemicals serotonin and melatonin. Melatonin regulates the circadian rhythm, also known as the sleep-wake cycle, and serotonin helps stabilize appetite, mood, and sleep.
- Pork chops
- Pumpkin seeds
- Peanut butter
9. Be Active
Get regular exercise. Regular physical activity can help reduce anxiety and improve your overall sleep quality. Try to get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise daily, such as walking, jogging, cycling, or swimming. Avoid exercising close to bedtime, as this can make it more difficult to fall asleep.
10. Spend time in Nature
Being outdoors is a great stress reliever. Nature is accessible to all, regardless of age or health. Here are some ways to get outside daily so you can unwind at night.
- Spend time outdoors daily; instead of driving, try walking or cycling
- Take a break from work to go for a walk
- Exercise outdoors
- Plant a garden. Indoor gardens and houseplants are great options for city dwellers
- If possible, work indoors near a window. If a window isn’t available, hang beautiful scenes of Nature around your workspace.
- Plan outdoor activities like hikes and picnics for your leisure time
11. Seek Help
It may be worth talking to your doctor if you still have trouble falling asleep despite trying these strategies. They can help you identify any underlying medical conditions or other factors contributing to your anxiety and difficulty sleeping. They can also advise on different treatment options, such as medication or therapy, that may be helpful.
If you’re still struggling with anxiety and sleeping, consider talking to a mental health professional. Experts can provide additional support and guidance to help you manage your stress and improve your sleep.
Be Persistent and Patient
Finding the right combination of strategies that work for you may take some time. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see immediate results – keep trying different techniques and be patient. You can learn to calm your mind and relax with time and practice.
Experiment with different relaxation techniques until you find one that is right for you. It’s important to remember that everyone is different, and what works for one person may not work for another. If one technique doesn’t help, try something else.
In conclusion, falling asleep when you’re anxious can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. By practicing deep breathing, using relaxation techniques, creating a comfortable sleep environment, and avoiding caffeine and alcohol, you can learn to calm your mind and relax your body. With time and patience, you can improve your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep, even when feeling anxious.