Many people with anxiety can’t sleep. If this is you, read these tips.
Anxious and Can’t Sleep? These 7 Tips Are Handy
1. Improve Your Circadian Rhythm to Maintain Consistent Sleep Habits
People can’t sleep for a variety of reasons. One of these is an out-of-sync circadian rhythm.
The circadian rhythm is your internal body clock. It tells your body not only when to sleep but also how to regulate metabolism.
Your sleep-wake cycle largely depends on the external environment, particularly the intensity and length of light, according to a study in Sleep Medicine Clinics.
Daylight, for example, “tells” the brain it’s time to wake up. In turn, it produces hormones or initiates functions that increase your energy and focus.
As the day winds down and night settles, your body goes into a more relaxed mode. The dimness is your body’s cue it’s time to snooze.
This relationship between light and sleep cycles explains why people experience jet lag. Less sunlight during the holidays is one of the reasons why some experience seasonal depression or anxiety.
One of the ways to improve your sleep quality is to control your exposure to light:
- Spend at least 20 minutes under the sun in the morning. This also helps your body produce vitamin D.
- Minimize your exposure to blue light, which usually comes from electronic devices. These include your mobile phones, desktop PCs, and laptop.
- Stop watching TV at least two hours before your sleep schedule.
- Control your naps. Naps are good if you need to recharge, but shorten them and don’t overdo them.
- Strive hard to maintain a consistent sleep schedule. People have different chronotypes, but the National Sleep Foundation recommends getting between seven and nine hours.
- Use a traditional alarm clock than your phone’s clock.
What are chronotypes? Popularized by Michael Breus, Ph.D., they refer to a person’s natural tendency to stay alert or asleep within the day. There are four of them: dolphin, wolf, bear, and lion.
2. Go Easy on Your Coffee or Tea to Avoid Overstimulation
Caffeine has many wonderful benefits to your body. That includes enhancing your focus, energy, and performance.
The ability to stimulate can be a problem, however, if you can’t sleep. This is especially true if you like sipping coffee or tea late at night.
Worse, if you have anxiety, you’ll find this stimulation overwhelming. You will feel stronger palpitations, uneasiness, and restlessness.
You can learn how to sleep better with anxiety by limiting your cup of coffee. Avoid consuming it between 3:00 pm and 4:00 pm as the compound remains in the body for at least six hours.
If you want the taste of coffee, opt for decaffeinated coffee instead. You can also substitute green or black tea with herbal teas such as chamomile and lavender since they are relaxants.
3. Know If You Have a Sleeping Problem to Treat the Cause
People can have many sleepless nights. Healthy ones, however, don’t have trouble falling asleep, especially when they’re tired.
If that’s not the case with you, it’s time to look deeper into your health. Perhaps you already have a sleeping disorder.
Two of the popular sleeping disorders are chronic insomnia and sleep apnea.
- In chronic insomnia, you have trouble falling asleep or keeping yourself asleep.
- In sleep apnea, your breathing pauses or stops for a second or more. This happens when relaxed throat muscles prevent air from passing through.
Other factors may increase your risk of sleeping problems, such as stress. Your excessive sleepiness may also be due to hormone issues or menopause.
Another is your mental health. Some people actually have sleep anxiety, where they worry about their sleep habits.
One of the ways to know if you have a sleeping disorder is a sleep test. You can also undergo a comprehensive personalized healthcare evaluation from LIV Health.
The doctor may require you to stay for a day or more to monitor your sleep phase and behavior. They can then recommend treatments or therapies so you can finally have a good night’s sleep.
4. Take the Right Supplement to Promote Normal Sleep
If you can’t sleep, you can consider taking a melatonin supplement. Melatonin is a hormone that influences your circadian rhythm.
It tells the brain when the body should sleep or wake up. In turn, it can also help people how to sleep better when they have anxiety.
You can get melatonin over the counter or as a prescription. It’s best to take it 30 minutes to an hour before you go to bed.
Traveling to a different country? If you’re crossing time zones, melatonin can help bring your circadian rhythm back to normal.
Besides melatonin, you may use the sleep peptide, CJC-1295, a synthetic growth-hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH).
GHRH stimulates the production of growth hormones, which your body needs to maintain organ health and performance. You create this hormone when you’re asleep.
You produce much of the hormone, though, when you’re in stage 3 sleep or (slow-wave sleep). What CJC-1295 does is improve both stage 2 and stage 3 sleep by letting you snooze faster and longer.
5. Enhance Your Bedroom Setting to Stay Asleep Longer
Your bedroom environment can promote good sleep—or not. Take, for example, living in an urban area near the street.
The sounds from the passing vehicles and the light from the posts can disrupt your sleep. So do bad pillows, thin bedsheets, and bedroom temperature.
You can learn how to sleep better at night naturally by enhancing your bedroom experience:
- Set the room temperature to around 20°C or 68°F. Adjust it depending on your preference.
- Limit the noise by closing the windows or turning off your phone.
- Block lights with heavy, dark curtains.
- Replace your mattress every five to eight years.
- Choose the right bedding. Get advice from the experts.
6. Relax Before You Sleep to Calm the Mind
If you can’t sleep, it may be because so much is going on inside your brain. It becomes more difficult if you’re battling anxiety.
That doesn’t mean you’ll have bad sleep quality all the time. One of the ways to deal with it is to spend time relaxing before bedtime:
- Take a hot bath or shower.
- Practice mindfulness, such as meditation.
- Listen to relaxing music.
- Do some yoga.
- Read a book.
- Perform some mental exercises.
Counselors and psychologists can teach you cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques. You can then add these to your pre-bedtime routines.
What is cognitive-behavioral therapy? It is a type of psychotherapy that emphasizes challenging and changing negative thoughts and behaviors.
7. Schedule Your Activities Accordingly so They Don’t Interfere with Your Sleeping Hours
There’s always the best time to do something. A good example is exercising.
Working out is essential for people with anxiety. It releases endorphins, which is one of the feel-good hormones.
It can also divert your attention from your source of worry, and it improves focus and energy.
If you can’t sleep, though, avoid exercising close to your bedtime. This way, you don’t stimulate your body to stay awake.
Avoid alcohol as much as possible. It can disrupt the production of human growth hormone.
If you’re prone to nocturia or excessive urination at night, don’t drink before you hit the bed. Don’t eat too much at night either to allow the body to produce the sleeping hormone, melatonin.
It’s normal to ask, “Why can’t I sleep at night?” It happens to everyone, more so if you have anxiety.
Don’t beat yourself up when you can’t sleep. Reading all these tips that teach how to sleep better tells you there’s hope.
You may not be able to change your sleep habits or quality overnight, but with consistency, you can achieve it.
What do you do when you can’t sleep? Share your ideas in the comments section below!