We’ve all had sleepless nights when we’re lying awake worry about life. The mind races as you think about things you forgot to do today and other things on your list for tomorrow. When worry keeps us awake, it’s obvious. But stress and anxiety can interfere with your sleep even when you’re not actively thinking about your stressors.
If sleepless nights are a nightly occurrence, you’re among more than 40 million Americans who suffer from chronic, long-term sleep disorders. Twenty million more Americans admit to dealing with occasional bouts of insomnia, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Stress and anxiety compound the problem. Or, they could even be the cause. In truth, the relationship between stress and sleeplessness is a complicated one.
Anxiety or sleep disorder
We know all too well that anxiety can cause insomnia. But did you know that insomnia could also cause anxiety? Sleep is when the body and mind rest and recharge. So, if you’re not getting enough, your body isn’t well equipped to handle stressful situations. When you don’t sleep, you’re likely to feel run-down, which will undoubtedly increase your stress levels.
How to treat anxiety and sleeplessness
If you think your insomnia came first, it’s important to talk to your doctor. There could be other medical reasons why you’re not sleeping, and you don’t want to ignore them.
Otherwise, it’s time to address your anxiety disorder. If it’s severe enough to be disrupting your sleep, you may want to talk to your doctor or see a professional counselor. They can use techniques like cognitive-behavior therapy to help treat your condition.
And whether or not you decide to seek professional help, there are things you can do at home to reduce your anxiety levels so you can sleep comfortably again.
The following are a few tips to help reduce anxiety naturally.
- Begin meditating – Start a practice of breath awareness meditation to help reduce your anxiety levels. As you focus on your breath, you’ll bring your mind back into the present moment and away from the things that are stressing you out.
- Exercise – Exercise is great for your mental and physical health. It can help ease symptoms of stress and tire you out enough to get a good night’s sleep.
- Prioritize – When everything carries equal weight, nothing will get done. Prioritize your to-do list, so you handle the most stressful things first. This way, you can end your day feeling accomplished and calm.
Tips for getting better rest
Now that we’ve addressed the stress, it’s time to set up some healthy sleep habits that will help you get the best possible sleep.
- Block out eight to nine hours of time for sleep each night. And regardless of the day, try waking up at the same time each morning. This will help reset your circadian rhythm.
- Unplug from technology at least one hour before bedtime and avoid stimulants like caffeine or chocolate before bed. Alcohol can also disrupt your sleep, so avoid it for the best results.
- Consider reading a book, taking a warm bath or listening to soft music before bedtime.
- Keep your room cool and dark for the best chance at sleep. If necessary, use blackout curtains to block light from coming in through the window.
- Don’t watch television in bed. Regardless of the time, don’t use your bed as a place to watch television, or play on your phone or tablet. Send the message to your mind that this is a place for rest, and you’re more likely to feel relaxed when you crawl into bed.
Anxiety can feel overwhelming at times, and it’s even worse when you aren’t getting enough sleep. That’s why it’s important to address the root cause of your issue. Talk to your doctor to rule out medical conditions that could be impacting your sleep, and then address the anxiety and sleeplessness with these natural methods of treatment.