If you struggle with anxiety, it may sometimes be difficult for you to either get to sleep at night or to sleep well. The constant gnawing worry and stress that comes with anxiety can eat away at both the quality and quantity of your sleep, making it even more difficult to function during the day. These problems then feed into each other, as your lack of sleep makes your anxious feelings worse, and your anxiety makes it harder to sleep again that night. It may seem impossible to break this cycle, but don’t despair. We have some suggestions for improving your quality of sleep, even when anxiety thinks otherwise.
1. Move your body
As an anxious person, you may thrum with energy throughout the day, both physically and emotionally. If you have a desk job or you’re in school, you may have no outlet for all of that energy, so your mind gets stuck: it has all this energy, and nowhere to put it. Instead, give yourself something to do. Go for a walk or maybe a run, lift weights, play tennis, or just do a crazy dance in your bedroom—whatever you need to do to get your heart rate up and tire yourself out. Then, when it’s time to rest, your mind and body will need some time off and will go happily to sleep.
2. Limit caffeine
This tip is true across the board: whether you experience anxiety or not, caffeine is always a stimulant that can inhibit sleep. For anxious individuals in particular, however, that additional stimulation can kick your anxiety into high overdrive, prompting symptoms like shaking hands, a racing heartbeat, and a feeling of impending terror. While the rest of the world can happily harness their caffeine intake to drive productivity, sometimes it’s better for individuals prone to anxiety to tap out entirely to avoid over-stimulation that can inhibit sleep.
3. Relax your mind
You’ve heard this suggestion a million times, from yogis and therapists the world over, but it truly does help. Especially if you’re prone to anxiety, it’s worth taking 15 minutes to clear your mind with a walk, mindfulness, meditation, or yoga. When you’re anxious, the fear of potential outcomes overwhelms your mind, and with time you can come to fear the anxiety attacks as much as the other stressors. Don’t let it get to that point. When you take a moment to calm your mind, you sit with those fears instead of running away from them, which can be deeply calming exercise for many people. Then, when your mind isn’t running at 100 miles an hour, you may be able to sleep better.
4. Build your environment
Be intentional with what you put in your bedroom and what activities you engage in before bed. By controlling sound, light, and temperature, you can give yourself the optimal environment for good sleep. Your body sleeps best in a dark, quiet, and cool bedroom, with a calm mind and no blue light exposure before bed. Even if you can’t quite quiet the internal storm, you can at least put yourself in the position to succeed by making sure your external environment is as conducive to sleep as possible.
If you’re still having trouble getting to sleep and sleeping well the whole night through, don’t be afraid to seek help. Sleep Science Clinics can help you sleep better. Give us a call or sign up for a personal sleep study today!