There’s nothing worse than a long day that ends in an even longer night. If you’re sick of anxiously counting sheep or counting the hours before daybreak and your impending alarm, use these four tips to sleep better with anxiety.
1. Check Your Stimulant Intake
There’s a chance your sleep is being negatively impacted by factors you haven’t even considered—or honestly, don’t even know about.
Your daily stimulant intake could be one of them.
Yeah, okay, it’s not like I’m chugging coffee before bed or anything. For starters, that’s a relief. But there are stimulants in everyday over-the-counter medications or foods that we wouldn’t suspect. Here are a few common ones that you may or may not have known about:
- Caffeinated foods – Found in coffee, yes, but also chocolate, green and black tea, pudding, some breakfast cereals, ice cream and frozen yogurt, sodas, and energy drinks (okay, another duh, but it bears repeating).
- Cinnamon – Avoiding donuts and churros right before bed is probably a good idea anyway, but here’s one more reason.
- Medications – Certain pain relievers like Excedrin and Bayer for headaches, and Midol for period cramps both have stimulant properties, in addition to obvious prescription stimulants like Ritalin or Adderall for ADHD.
If you have continued trouble, consult your doctor or pharmacist to double-check that none of your prescription medications have significant amounts of caffeine or other stimulants—if it’s in breakfast cereal and decaf coffee (yup, that’s right), then who knows where else it’s hiding?
2. Silence Your Mind Before Turning In
Our mind is both our greatest asset and our worst enemy, sometimes. Even when you know it’s time for sleep (your brain is even telling you, hey, I’m getting tired here!), your brain is also impeding that sleep with racing thoughts and rising anxiety.
Turn your mind off the same way you flick off the light switch at night for a good night’s sleep:
- If swirling thoughts and panicked ideations of the future are keeping you up at night, get them out of your head and onto paper. Journal for a few minutes before bed and put a name to the negative thoughts or fears you may be experiencing. This can make them a little less scary and all-consuming.
- Take 20 minutes before bedtime to practice mindfulness, whether that’s on your own or with the Headspace guided meditation app geared specifically towards anxiety.
- Make a hard rule with yourself (both in terms of setting a strict boundary and perhaps in regard to its difficulty level as well): no screen-time for one hour before bed. Sometimes, this just isn’t feasible, but the blue light (and constant onslaught of bad news, comparison games, and self-doubt) isn’t doing you any favors when you finally put your cellphone down and yourself to sleep.
3. Invest in a Weighted Blanket
This emerging sleep aide is perfect for tossers and turners with anxiety. The Layla weighted blanket is heavy enough to provide what’s called Deep Touch Pressure, but without that suffocated or claustrophobic feeling.
If you find yourself especially restless or agitated—just can’t find a comfortable position to save my life!—then this soothing blanket will do wonders for calming your body, and subsequently, your mind.
4. Exercise Before (But Not Right Before) Bed
You’ll need to find the right balance with this one—like Goldilocks and her porridge.
Exercise stimulates both the mind and body, and is a great way to manage spiking anxiety. But if you hit the pavement for evening cardio sprints or hit the dance studio for a late-night class, you’re basically sending the message, it’s go-time. However, the whole point is that it’s not go-time. In fact, very far from it.
Instead, leave the intense physical fitness for the daylight hours:
- Opt for that same five-mile run or hour-long hip hop class about three or four hours before bed. That way, you’ll get all your energy out with enough time to come down before crawling under the covers.
- If you are squeezing in an evening workout, stick with something low-intensity and low-stress, like a yoga class or tai chi.
Sleep Tight With These Sleep Tips
These helpful tips should encourage healthy sleeping patterns and sound, restful slumber, but they won’t be able to cure your anxiety. If your sleep troubles persist, you can always reach out to a mental health professional for specialized assistance.
With everything going on, you deserve truly restorative rest.