If you are anything like me, and anxiety has an unwanted prevalent place in your life, you are going to want to read this. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health concern in the United States and they affect 18 percent of adults in any given year, with a lifetime prevalence of 29 percent of Americans. While some may experience stress and/or anxiety over an event coming up like a test, an anxiety disorder is much more long lasting and can have an immense effect on a person’s everyday life. Anxiety is often seen with other mental health conditions and is very frequently a co-occurring disorder.
What most commonly co-exists with anxiety? You guessed it. Sleep. 7 out of 10 adults in the United States say they experience stress or anxiety daily, and most say it interferes at least moderately with their lives. Furthermore, having an anxiety disorder can make your sleeping difficulties 10x worse.The two go hand in hand, having anxiety causes sleep problems and now there is evidence that people with insomnia are likely to develop an anxiety disorder. While you should consult a medical professional if these problems are life consuming and you cannot get a handle on it, I am going to talk about some simple tools/tips that can help ease your mind at night and get a better night sleep. At least some that have helped me find relief.
A Consistent Sleep-Wake Cycle
Create a schedule so that you can go to sleep at the same time every night, and wake up at the same time every night. I know sleeping in sounds amazing but this also needs to include the weekends. You want to block out a good 7-9 hours in order to be fully rested. You can experiment with this until you find your natural sleep schedule.
Limit Electronics Use
Instead of watching tv before bed, pick up a book or play soft,calm music which can lower your blood pressure and relax your mind. You want to make sure you give yourself at least 30 minutes after powering down the electronics before the time you set for bed. They can keep your mind stimulated by tricking you into thinking it is still daytime.
Create a Sleep Routine
Create a night time routine for before you get into bed. Whether it is having a cup of tea, reading a couple chapters, meditating, journaling, etc. Different things work for different people, you want to find your niche. As you have probably heard before, be aware of caffeine intake, avoid stimulants and limit alcohol. Also avoid strenuous exercising at night. Exercising can improve sleep quality and anxiety, but you should be limited to light stretching.
Make Your Bedroom Your Happy Place
Limit your bedroom to sleeping and sex, you want to make sure this is a relaxing place for you. You also want to make sure the temperature is cool (between 65-68 degree,) the room is dark, and there is no outside noise to distract you. There are tools to help, such as a fan or a white noise machine, which many people find calming and distracting from other noises.
Clear Your Mind
Meditation. Meditation.Meditation. It is very important to focus on your breathing. There are a number of guided meditation apps for you or breathing exercises such as the 4-7-8 technique. You can also use guided imagery, yoga poses and mindfulness. Inhale positivity/peace and exhale negativity/fear.
Write it Down
If you are unable to escape the worry, write it down. Sleep Journaling is a great tool for getting to the root of an overactive mind. You can journal about your day and help establish a routine based on your daily needs. Best notes include: What time you are go to sleep, what time you wake up and how you feel during those times.
The use of essential oils has been a lifesaver for me and my anxiety, as well as sleep problems. There are a number of essential oils both individually and blended that are helpful. The most popular include Lavender and Chamomile. You can use essential oils a number of ways. Not only can you diffuse them in a diffuser, you can spray scents on your pillow, create a sachet, use them topically in lotions and in some cases ingest them (make sure you research before doing so.)
These are just a number of tools and tips that I use to help subdue the connection between my anxiety and sleep. I hope they help you too! There are many more out there. However as I said, if you find it so bad that it is not letting up and you can not get a hold on it, you want to take a deeper look at the source of anxiety with a health care professional to help get your sleep back on track.