Is your anxiety causing insomnia? About 150 million people suffer from this sleep disorder in developing countries. According to the National Sleep Foundation, anxiety may be associated with onset insomnia (the trouble of falling asleep) or maintenance insomnia (the difficulty of staying asleep).
Insufficient sleep puts your well-being in peril. “Medical conditions are slow to develop and have multiple risk factors connected to them. What we do know is that sleeping fewer than about eight hours per night on a regular basis seems to increase the risk of developing a number of medical conditions,” the Harvard Medical School warns. These conditions include obesity, diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular diseases, and reduced immune function.
Safeguard your health by getting the sleep you deserve each night. Improve sleep and manage anxiety with these 10 helpful tips.
#1: Drown the mental chatter[caption id="attachment_110755" align="aligncenter" width="800"]
Feeling stressed and overwhelmed is a sure ticket to anxiety. While thinking about a work deadline or a financial problem, you might feel tension in your head or neck and changes in heart rate. In some cases, people experiencing anxiety suffer from diarrhea, difficulty breathing, and feeling faint. These physical symptoms can interfere with your sleep.
Identify the sources of your worry. If it's work-related, you may want to clear your bedroom of anything that will remind you of work, like a laptop or a planner. If a debt is keeping you up all night, try drowning the mental chatter with relaxing music. Check out tracks on Spotify that can help you fall asleep easily.
#2: Do a mind exercise[caption id="attachment_110754" align="aligncenter" width="800"]
Princeton University neuroscientist Dr. Lester Fehmi discovered a method of eliminating anxiety-induced mental chatter and help the brain fall asleep. Through a series of small attention tasks, the exercise slows the whole brain to alpha frequency (about 10 per second), on the way to sleep. Dr. Fehmi discusses this in his top selling book The Open-Focus Brain. Know more about the revolutionary method in this video.
#3: Do breathing exercises[caption id="attachment_110761" align="aligncenter" width="800"]
One of the common physical symptoms of anxiety is changes in heart rate. This is because of restlessness. It's almost impossible to fall asleep if your body isn't relaxed. Breathing exercises help calm the nervous system and prepare the body for sleep. Try meditative breathing by following these steps:
- Sit on your bed with your back straight
- Slightly relax your head forward
- Inhale and exhale for a count of one
- Inhale and exhale for a count of two
- Inhale and exhale for a count of three
- Inhale and exhale for a count of four
- Inhale and exhale for a count of five
- Start over again at one
- Repeat for 10 minutes
#4: No caffeine in late afternoon[caption id="attachment_110756" align="aligncenter" width="800"]
Recent studies list down the many amazing benefits of coffee. This well-loved beverage can help increase fiber intake, lower risk of type 2 diabetes and liver cirrhosis, and reduce depression. However, remember that coffee is a powerful stimulant. It can keep your senses heightened for several hours. Caffeine stays in the bloodstream for 6 hours, so make sure you skip the brew in the late afternoon.
Extra tip: if you need a hot beverage after dinner, go for camomile tea. For centuries, this tea is a known sleep inducer.
#5: Clear your mind[caption id="attachment_110762" align="aligncenter" width="800"]
Anxiety triggers mental chatter that can keep you up all night. You need to either drown out the noise in your head or clear it of any thought. People have been talking about mindfulness meditation, which involves focusing on the present moment. It is “a state of active, open attention on the present”, according to Psychology Today. There are many ways of practicing mindfulness meditation. Here's one:
- Choose a comfortable and stable seat like a chair or on your bed
- Sit with your back straight, but not rigid
- Cross your legs comfortably in front of you
- Rest your hands on your thighs, facing down
- Gaze gently on the floor in front of you
- Take long breaths
- Channel all your attention to your breathing
- Do this for at least 10 minutes
Don't forget to turn off your smartphone and other gadgets that may disrupt your meditation.
#6: Eat right at night[caption id="attachment_110757" align="aligncenter" width="800"]
An anxiety attack can be triggered by a major exam, a work project, a health issue or a relationship problem. Typically, it develops gradually and produces physical symptoms. You're suffering from anxiety if you're experiencing worry and apprehension, difficulty concentrating, and restlessness. It can also manifest in your inability to fall and stay asleep. Your anxiety will likely worsen if you have trouble sleeping and start worrying about that too.
Help yourself get a good night's sleep by eating right in the evening. “Eating healthy and allowing the body to absorb proper nutrients provides the brain with the chemical environment that it needs to produce the neurotransmitters that it needs to maintain adequate sleep,” said Dr. Ana Krieger, of New York-Presbyterian and Weill Cornell Medicine.
For dinner, avoid heavy spicy or fatty foods, which are tough to digest and can cause heartburn.
#7: Take a hot shower[caption id="attachment_110759" align="aligncenter" width="800"]
Is an important meeting keeping from your falling asleep? Take a hot shower. Soaking up in warm to hot water can relax your nerves and muscles. This is recommended after a tough day at work or a rigorous exercise routine. A hot shower can also bring down your body temperature to a level that induces sleepiness. A low temperature signals the body that it's bedtime while a higher one tells it's time to wake up.
Extra tip: lather up with lavender body wash. Lavender fragrance has soothing effects that can help you relax and prep for bedtime.
#8: Clean your bedroom[caption id="attachment_110758" align="aligncenter" width="800"]
Clutter is an anxiety trigger. You may not have any predicament in life at the moment, but the chaos around you might be causing restlessness. “Clutter bombards our minds with excessive stimuli (visual, olfactory, tactile), causing our senses to work overtime on stimuli that aren't necessary or important,” wrote psychologist Sherry Bourg Carter in Psychology Today.
Get some life changing tips from Marie Kondo, an organizing consultant and author. She recommends tidying up to reset your life. “Tidying is just a tool, not the final destination. The true goal should be to establish the lifestyle you want most once your house has been put in order,” she said in the bestselling The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.
#9: Get a comfortable mattress[caption id="attachment_110760" align="aligncenter" width="800"]
Can’t sleep due to anxiety? Don't take this lightly. Sleep deprivation can put your safety at risk by reducing your ability to focus. The hazards of drowsy driving is similar with drunk driving. In the US, drowsy driving was blamed for 800 deaths in 2013 alone. Stay safe by getting seven to nine hours of uninterrupted sleep at night.
Buy a comfortable mattress that gently cradles your body through the night. Uratex Premium offers a selection of plush mattresses that help ensure you get the shut-eye you deserve. The Senso Memory Original is made of high density foam that distributes body pressure evenly and promotes good blood circulation and natural body alignment. This top-grade bed foam is covered by Tencel knitted fabric that keeps your sleeping area comfortably cool.
#10: Talk to a doctor[caption id="attachment_110753" align="aligncenter" width="800"]
You will experience anxiety once in a while. But if you're starting to manifest anxiety disorder or it's interfering with your life, you should visit your doctor. Anxiety disorder is more than a temporary state of worry or fear. It can be in the form of generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder. All can have debilitating effect on your life.
Anxiety and sleep deprivation have a crazy relationship. Your anxiety disorder can keep your senses heightened throughout the night and your inability to doze off can lead to uncontrollable anxious thoughts. You can address your unhealthy worrying by sleeping better, and your sleep problems by managing your anxiety. Do meditative exercises, avoid caffeine and other stimulants at night, create a conducive sleeping environment, and seek professional help if necessary.