Anxiety can contribute to sleep problems, and poor sleep can make anxiety worse. For people who suffer from anxiety and insomnia, day-to-day life can feel like an endless loop of physical and mental exhaustion.
Does the act of crawling into bed at night seem to trigger a landfall of worries? Does it feel like your anxiety is out of control? Proper sleep hygiene, emotional regulation exercises and therapy can help you control the thoughts that keep you up at night.
Sleep Hygiene and Why It Matters
Sleep hygiene is a collection of habits that promote good sleep. Most of these practices might seem basic at first glance, but many insomniacs may find their healthy sleep habits are lacking upon more careful reflection. Adjusting daily activities could make settling down at night less difficult. Changes may include:
- Drinking less caffeine or cutting off caffeine consumption earlier in the day.
- Increasing physical activity and prioritizing exercise rigorous enough to raise your heart rate.
- Spending time journaling or thinking through concerns during waking hours instead of pushing them aside to emerge in the quiet of bedtime.
Before bed, good sleep hygiene could include:
- Turning off screens one to two hours before lights out.
- Engaging in a relaxing activity, like reading or meditation, in place of technology.
- Making the bedroom a comfortable space by adjusting the temperature, using blinds to block out light and buying a noise machine to mask street noise.
- Adopting a routine and repeating it night after night, signaling the body that it’s time to relax.
Exercise for Regulating Thoughts and Emotions
Mindful suggests the use of meditation when facing anxious thoughts. The idea is to practice nonjudgmental awareness of thoughts while taking mental inventory of the body and focusing on breathing. If these are new concepts, don’t worry! Mindful provides a free guided meditation for anxiety right on their website.
Writing in a journal is another way to take control of anxious thoughts. One exercise involves recording the beliefs that are disruptive and then exploring the facts behind them. Include the worse-case scenarios and your ability to respond to those events.
Reaching Out for Additional Help
Anxiety can be a real monster, and it isn’t always possible to control without outside support. Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) uses a variety of techniques to empower individuals to take action toward change and address the roots of their anxiety. A qualified therapist can help guide DBT or suggest other practices for managing sleeplessness caused by anxious thoughts.
Not getting enough sleep can make the daily tasks of life feel overwhelming. It’s crucial to address what’s keeping you awake so you can live a more enjoyable, fulfilling life. You might need to try out a few techniques to see what works for you, but with the right direction and a little practice, you can rein in those unwanted thoughts and get the sleep you deserve.
~Here’s to Your Success!
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