Does your mind start racing as soon as your head hits the pillow? It’s hard to go to sleep when your mind is filled with worries, fears, and doubts. Instead of drifting off to sleep, your mind has gone into overdrive worrying about tomorrow and increasing your stress.
The above is a mentally and physically taxing condition known as nighttime anxiety. If sleeping is relaxing and restorative, nighttime anxiety is the complete opposite, keeping you awake and robbing you of energy.
Unfortunately, once people realize the mental state they are in, they become even more anxious about not getting enough sleep so they can function at their best, which leads to even higher levels of frustration and anxiety.
Fortunately, there are proven strategies that will help you beat nighttime anxiety so you can finally get some decent shuteye.
Develop Good Sleep Hygiene
Sleep hygiene is all about the actions you perform leading up to bedtime. Mostly they consist of developing consistent sleeping habits such as going to bed at the same time, turning off screens sometime before bed, keeping dinners small and light, and darkening the bedroom.
Turning off screens is perhaps one of the most effective strategies because it reduces the amount of blue light you expose yourself to. Blue light surrounds us in abundance during the day and helps to keep us alert. Screens and mobile devices flood your environment with blue light late into the night, keeping your brain active when it should be settling down and getting ready for rest.
It can be challenging to switch off completely. In this case, you should use the night light settings on your devices which reduce the amount of blue light they emit. Another option is to purchase blue light filtering lenses for your eyes.
Adding exercise to your daily routine will prepare your body for a more restful night and help you get to sleep faster. You don’t need expensive gyms or equipment to exercise more. Get a good quality pair of shoes and try walking.
Most game consoles have dance games available that will give you a decent workout, or you could try Pilates and yoga classes on YouTube. Endorphins released during exercise can heighten your mood, reduce stress, and quiet your mind.
Some people find that it is better to get exercise completed earlier in the day. Doing an evening workout can sometimes make it difficult for the body to wind down when it’s time to hit the sack.
Quiet Time or Meditation
Quiet time is the period you set aside at the end of the day and just before bedtime when you do a calming activity that doesn’t involve looking at a screen. Read a book, craft, draw, or play or listen to calming soothing music.
Meditation and mindfulness are good skills to learn, as they keep your mind anchored in the moment. You can also combine meditation and mindfulness with slow, mentally relaxing chores like washing dishes or folding laundry to keep your mind in the present. These less mentally taxing activities will engage your parasympathetic, rest-oriented nervous system, rather than the more action-oriented sympathetic nervous system.
Keep an Anxiety Journal
One of the most frustrating aspects of anxiety is that it does have its uses in daily life. Anxiety helps us stick to deadlines, make doctor’s appointments, get to work on time, and follow road rules.
Much nighttime anxiety is caused by worrying about forgetting something important. A bedside journal gives you a place to jot down these thoughts for a quick review in the morning. Knowing that you’ve got a record or hard copy will go a long way to easing your mind.
Have you tried the above tips but still suffer from painful memories or a flood of negative thoughts and an overactive imagination at bedtime? You might need extra support and help with quieting your mind. A trained mental health professional can teach you tools to reduce anxiety so that you can sleep better.
To learn more about getting professional support, visit this page: Anxiety Treatment.