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9 Ways to Get to Sleep When You’re Feeling Anxious
As anyone with anxiety knows, those sweaty palms, heart pounding, and mind racing feelings are not conducive to sleep. In fact, when you’re feeling that way, sleep can feel impossible, and the hopeless feelings compound when you think about how the loss of sleep will affect you the next day.
You need to take care of your body by eating right, exercising, and having other strategies to manage your anxiety. These are all daytime activities that will help, but here are 9 things you can do right away in bed, or at bedtime, to help your mind & body relax.
1. Breathe in a square
Deep breathing won’t make your problems go away, but it will help you level your head and relax your body. There are four simple steps to practice “Square Breathing”:
- Lay on your back and breathe in for 5 seconds. Expand your belly, rather than your chest. Imagine you’re drawing one side of a square.
- Hold your breath for 5 seconds, track your progress by drawing the adjacent side of the square in your mind.
- Exhale for 5 seconds. Imagine the third side of the square being drawn.
- Next, hold your breath again for 5 seconds. Imagine the square being completed.
This type of focused breathing can distract you from the many thoughts running through your mind.
2. Write it down.
Keep a notebook next to your bed a write-down anything that is consuming your thoughts as you try to fall asleep. Listing your worries is especially helpful if the reason you’re feeling anxious is caused by things you have to do. Writing down all your tasks and responsibilities helps you to process each one, and assures you that you won’t forget about them in the morning.
Experts say that you should cut out all screen time an hour before bed. The reasoning behind this bold statement is that the light from screens can decrease our body’s production of melatonin, a hormone that helps us sleep. When you stop exposing yourself to bright light at night, you allow your body to get into its natural rhythm and set your brain up for relaxation.
4. Listen to soft or classical music
Music serves to amplify your feelings, so when you’re feeling anxious you shouldn’t listen to music that is busy, loud, or winds you up. Instead, lay on your bed and allow yourself to get lost in a slow beat or a soft melody. This relaxing music can slow your heart rate, lower your blood pressure, and decrease your stress level.
5. Cool it
According to studies, you can encourage your body to sleep by dropping its temperature. If your room is too warm and you don’t have access to the thermostat, try getting a fan and using it to cool you down. Experts recommend you keep your room between 18 – 22 degrees. Excessive heat can also trigger anxiety – yet another reason you should keep yourself cool at bedtime.
6. Get on schedule
Create a nightly routine, so that you can signal to your body when it is time to sleep. Include any relaxing activity you want in your nighttime routine. Some examples are listening to music, reading a book, or taking a warm bath. Also, try to start your routine at the same time every night. This will train your body for when to start getting tired. Your activities might not always allow you to go to bed at the same time, but try to stick as close to your regular hours of sleep as possible.
7. Have tea time
There are many teas that contain natural herbs that act as sleep-aids. Chamomile, lavender, and peppermint are a few herbal teas that will help reduce anxiety and induce drowsiness. Just make sure that whatever tea you pick is caffeine free – otherwise, the tea may have the opposite effect.
8. Get weighed down
Instead of being weighed down by your worries, invest in a weighted blanket. These blankets help reduce stress hormone levels while you sleep. They provide a deep pressure which triggers your body to release serotonin. Serotonin helps regulate your mood and sleep patterns, so an increase in this can help your relax and fall asleep.
9. Bring nature in
Nature is one of the best places to go when you’re feeling down. There are many benefits to making greenery a major part of your surroundings. So, get a plant. According to Psychology Today, your potted plant has the power to lower your blood pressure, anxiety, and improve your well-being. Talk about the power of plants!
So the next time you find yourself unable to sleep, try one of these handy tricks. Always keep in mind that these are quick tips and not permanent solutions. Severe anxiety should always be treated with the help of a mental health professional.