It’s the middle of the night again. You’ve been here before, so many times. All the tossing and turning - all those constant feelings of dread and restlessness. You’re so incredibly tired, but you can’t fall asleep.
Anyone who’s chronically awake at 3:07 A.M knows that anxiety at night impacts sleep in so many ways. First, it can make it challenging to fall asleep in the first place. Moreover, it can result in frequent waking, nightmares, and a lack of feeling rested in the morning.
Better sleep is possible! Let’s learn how you can tackle that anxiety you feel before bedtime.
Accept Your Anxiety At Night
At first, this philosophy may seem strange. After all, who wants to feel anxious before drifting into sleep?
But accepting anxiety means that you recognize it exists. You’re not trying to deny or suppress or avoid it. Instead, you’re willing to face the problem and understand its role in your life.
First, accepting your anxiety means recognizing that anxiety aims to protect you. Our anxiety refers to the activation of our fight-or-flight response. The brain interprets danger, and the body reacts to cope with that threat. Although this response may not feel necessary, remember that your body and brain are working hard to keep you safe.
Additionally, accepting anxiety can take away some of its power. Once you recognize its pattern and start to understand how to work through it, the feelings no longer feel as intense.
Audit Your Nighttime Routine
What happens before you go to bed? Are you scrolling through Facebook or Instagram? Are you frantically stuffing a late dinner because you were too busy to eat all day? Are you indulging in way too much wine in a desperate attempt to fall asleep?
If you struggle with anxiety at night, you must create a calm, relaxing mental space. Unfortunately, many sneaky offenders can disrupt this process. Some of them include:
Using any form of digital technology before bedtime.
Consuming caffeine too late in the afternoon or evening.
Eating rich or heavy foods before bed.
Going to bed at different times every night.
Taking late naps.
If you struggle with anxiety at night, focus on reducing or downright eliminating these offenders. You should start to notice some changes.
Take Time To Practice Self-Care During The Day
Don’t just wait until nighttime to focus on your anxiety. We store anxious thoughts and feelings in our body - if we fail to address them, they just become more prominent.
Self-care needs to be an ongoing part of your daily routine. Take breaks throughout the day. Pause and reflect on your gratitude. Make room for passions and hobbies. Reach out for positive support when you feel overwhelmed.
Discharge all that anxious energy. Anxiety is pretty powerful and revs up our nervous system, which creates the flow of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. You need a way to get rid of all that stress during the day. The best way to do this is to get some exercise. Try a walk outside, yoga or bike riding. Just remember not to do it just before bed.
Most importantly, don’t neglect your feelings. Many of us want to pretend like we don’t get anxious, irritable, or sad. However, our feelings offer revealing information about our internal experiences. Disregarding them often backfires.
When you notice yourself experiencing an intense emotion, pause to think about what’s going on. What can you do to take care of yourself? If you can’t address it right now, can you plan how you want to examine it later?
Experiment With Different Nighttime Relaxation Exercises
Replaying that awful conversation you had four years ago probably won’t help calm your anxious mind. Unfortunately, anxiety tends to feed itself. We get anxious about our anxiety, and the vicious cycle ensues.
Many beneficial relaxation techniques can help reduce anxiety. From deep breathing to listening to guided scripts to simply focusing on a single word, it’s essential that you find what works for you. Try an app like Calm or Headspace to try out different techniques.
Sitting in a warm bath with epsom salts and a nice fragrance can help relax your body and your brain. Epsom salts are really just magnesium and magnesium is mineral that we are often in short supply of. This essential mineral can help induce relaxation and also helps our body build more serotonin - one of our feel good neurotransmitters.
Still struggling to relax? Try writing down your worries as a To Do list. Tell yourself you will come back to these thoughts in the morning. Often that simple act is enough to give your worries a break and allow sleep to take over.
Relaxation exercises require dedication and conscious commitment. They may feel challenging at first. That doesn’t mean they aren’t working. Instead, it means that your brain is so used to hyperactivity that relaxation feels somewhat foreign. Keep at it! The more you practice, the easier it is to move into a relaxation space.
Consider Therapy For Anxiety At Night
Many people struggling with nighttime anxiety also feel anxious throughout the day. Sometimes, they recognize these symptoms. Other times, they feel so preoccupied with their routine that they don’t notice how worried they feel until they crawl into bed.
Therapy for anxiety can help you understand your triggers. Your therapist will provide you with education and support. They will also explore various physical and psychological changes you can make to start feeling better.
Anxiety at night can impact your entire life. Poor sleep can result in increased feelings of anxiety and depression. It can also lead to medical issues, such as hypertension or chronic fatigue.
Help is available! Contact us today to learn more about how we can support you in treating your anxiety.