Tips for Sleeping with Anxiety

The following information was shared with me by Tuck, “a community devoted to promoting sleep health awareness”. Please visit www.tuck.com/anxiety-guide-sleep, to read the full article.

People with anxiety disorders are in particular need of sleep. Getting good rest at night can help stabilize mood, improve cognitive functioning in areas of learning and memory, and promote the kind rational thinking we all need to put fears and concerns in context.

Here are five tips that can help you fall asleep in spite of anxiety:

  1. Practice healthy sleep hygiene:

    • Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time, regardless of your schedule.

    • Establish a bedtime routine. For example, take a hot bath, use a lavender-scented moisturizer, disconnect from social media, and read a book.

    • Do not drink caffeine several hours before bedtime.

    • If you need to nap, limit it to 20 minutes.

    • Make the bedroom a sanctuary of calm and rest: Make sure it’s cool and dark; eliminate clutter and distractions such as TV; sleep on a comfortable mattress that gives you enough support and does not make you hot.

    • Try to limit your bedroom activities to slumber and sex.

    • If you cannot fall asleep within 30 minutes, get out of bed and try a calming activity, like reading.

  2. Talk about sleep troubles with your medical doctor and a therapist in order to pinpoint the source of the problems.

  3. Ask the doctor about sleep supplements, such as melatonin which can help regulate your sleeping patterns. Bring up the possible cons of the long-term use of melatonin and see if they apply to your situation.

  4. To combat anxiety, consider keeping a worry journal on your nightstand. Write down your anxious thoughts there and release them, scheduling a time when you are awake to tackle them then.

  5. Keep a sleep diary to gain insights and track your progress. See an example here.

  6. A weighted blanket may help with feeling calm at night. The weighted blanket works in a similar way to swaddling a baby. A secure and safe feeling can help you feel calm and fall asleep easier.

  7. Moderate or light exercise five days a week for 30 minutes each day has been shown to reduce the symptoms of many anxiety disorders. Exercising should be done five to six hours before bedtime to ensure it doesn’t interfere with sleep latency. Consult a doctor before beginning any physical activity regime.

  8. Meditation has a calming effect and can help those with anxiety “clear” the mind to prepare for sleep. This is also effective in those suffering from insomnia, which is common in those with an anxiety disorder.