Anxiety affects many people at bedtime. It makes them dread the night and wonder whether they can get some shut-eye. Even worse, if they suffer from cumulative sleep loss, they’ll likely face harmful health consequences, increasing their anxiety.
Thankfully, there are ways to eliminate bedtime anxieties and sleep disorders altogether. In this article, we’ll delve into these science-backed steps to beat sleep anxiety and improve optimal well-being.
Follow Proper Sleep Hygiene
Sleep hygiene refers to good habits that can lead to quality sleep. It helps eliminate sleep problems and reduces sleep anxiety at night, resulting in a restful night. The basic rule of sleep hygiene is to obey your internal body clock.
According to the Sleep Health Foundation, most bodily processes are synchronized to it. That means working against it will cause many problems for the body. To work well with your internal clock, consider the following suggestions:
- Get up at the same time every single day, including weekends.
- Don’t ignore when your body says it’s tired.
- Get a sufficient amount of early morning sunshine. It helps set your body clock.
The next rule is generally related to one’s lifestyle. Although this varies from one person to person, here are some common things you want to avoid to have better sleep hygiene:
- Long naps (e.g., longer than 30 minutes), especially at night
- Mentally stimulating activities, instead opt for relaxing ones
- Rigorous evening activities
- Stimulants (e.g., caffeinated drinks and cigarettes)
- Depressants (e.g., alcohol)
- Heavy dinner
- Screen time
Sleeping pills shouldn’t be relied on, as well. They have a “rebound” effect, where a body that couldn’t initially sleep adapts a stint of using sleeping pills to sleep, and when they’re taken away, its sleeplessness is compounded.
Additionally, taking them causes daytime sleepiness and makes it hard to determine the underlying causes of sleeping concerns. Sleeping pills are only recommended as a temporary last resort but must be taken under strict medical advice.
Seek Professional Help
Occasional insomnia isn’t usually a health concern. It’s caused mainly by a poor sleeping environment, typically an uncomfortable bed or room (i.e., too bright, noisy, hot, or cold), and lifestyle factors, such as caffeine consumption before bed, screen time, shift work, or jet lag.
These factors should be easily managed yourself. While the results may not be instant, with proper and effective sleep management, they can easily be dealt with alone. However, if your insomnia stays even after improving your sleep hygiene, it’s time to seek professional help.
Chronic insomnia may be caused by underlying mental health issues (e.g., sleep anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia) and physical health conditions (e.g., heart problems). Doctors typically recommend physical exams, sleep habits reviews, and sleep studies in these cases.
Doctors may also prescribe medications and personalized treatments, depending on your diagnosis. These can be covered by insurance. If not, there are promotions like Cymbalta Savings Offer and the government’s diagnosis-based assistance programs that can help you.
Our brain naturally secretes melatonin. It’s the hormone responsible for regulating our sleep-wake cycle. It has both sleep-promoting and calming effects, which is a great help to overcome your sleep anxiety.
What if there’s not enough melatonin? You may have it straight from your diet. It naturally occurs in fruits, specifically found high in cherries, grapes, kiwis, strawberries, and tomatoes, and vegetables, especially mushrooms and capsicum. It’s also found in eggs, fish, meat, nuts, seeds, cereals, milk, oils, wine, and beer.
It may also come in pill form. In fact, it appears to be more conservative and safer than sleeping pills since it isn’t depressant. However, for the same reason, it’s not a good alternative to prescribed sleeping pills.
If you plan to take melatonin supplements, timing is key. Most experts suggest taking them an hour before bedtime. For people who absorb medicines faster, taking them 30 minutes earlier is recommended. There’s no official recommendation for dosage, but seeking professional help is highly encouraged.
Meditation is one of the relaxing activities you can do to calm anxiety before bedtime. Research has shown that diaphragmatic breathing relaxation techniques are very effective among all forms.
Specifically, other studies have explained that diaphragmatic breathing relaxation techniques improve melatonin production and parasympathetic activity (i.e., responsible for relaxing the body after periods of stress) during the night.
Engage in Positive Distractions
Consider distracting yourself with interesting visualizations with all your senses. For example, imagine the ideal summer vacation. Imagine listening to the waves, feeling the sun’s heat on your skin, and smelling the saltiness of the ocean.
This detail visualization helps push stressful thoughts more successfully, which leads to a calm mind and fast, quality sleep. Due to its no cost and benefit, this mental trick is becoming a popular sleeping aid nowadays.
Anxieties are normal occurrences. However, they’re alarming if they interfere with your sleep, especially after adjusting to lifestyle changes and better sleep hygiene. In this case, always remember not to hesitate to speak to a health professional.