Sleep disturbances are relatively common among those who have anxiety disorders. When we feel anxious, our autonomic nervous system releases cortisol, the main stress hormone mediate things. It’s a great plan, but cortisol does it keeps us awake.
Anxiety and insomnia can form a vicious cycle of sleepless nights. Anxiety can keep you up at night, and a lack of sleep can make anxiety symptoms worse. Some days it’s a catch-22 that you can’t get rid of. Try using these five tips to manage your anxiety at night, so it doesn’t keep you up at night.
Want more? We have more. Learn the sleep anxiety trick a CNET editor swears by, how to curb Sunday scares, and how to fall asleep when anxious.
1. Ritualize your nighttime routine
Not only does a routine help you relax enough to fall asleep, it also helps combat stress and reduces symptoms of anxiety. Your night routine will help you stay focused on relaxation and sleep. Everyone’s routine will be different. Maybe yours includes light yoga or an hour of keep a journal to think about to your day. Either way, it’s important to stick to your night routine when you find it – do it at the same time and in the same order every night. Completing tasks in your nighttime routine will signal your brain that it’s time to start winding down for sleep.
Another little tip in this advice: don’t stay awake in bed. If you climb into bed and find that you are not falling asleep, do not stay in bed. Instead, get up and do something relaxing, like reading a book or taking a bubble bath. The last thing you want to do is associate your bed with social media browsing or watching TV.
2. Watch what you drink
I know this one can be a little disappointing, but what you eat and drink can affect your anxiety and sleep. Caffeine is linked to anxiety and sleep in two ways. First, too much caffeine can exacerbate feelings of anxiety. The second is the most obvious; caffeine keeps you up at night. As a general rule, you should avoid drinking caffeine for six hours before going to bed.
Alcohol can also affect your anxiety symptoms and your sleep by getting rid of your circadian rhythm. Although it’s easier to fall asleep after a few cocktails, many people wake up a few hours later when their body is metabolizing the alcohol. Avoid drinking alcohol at least four hours before going to sleep.
3. Try a meditation app
Meditation apps are a quick and easy way to help you relax and fall asleep. Research shows that meditation can reduce stress and anxiety levels. It also reduces your blood pressure and heart rate. With the best meditation apps, you choose from guided meditations, deep breathing exercises, or calming stories. There are a ton of options out there. The best meditation apps even have guided segments from celebrities like Harry Styles or Idris Elba.
4. Sleep with a weighted blanket
Weighted blankets have proven to be a effective way to help calm anxiety and help you fall asleep, thanks to what we call deep pressure stimulation. A 2020 study found that people who use a weighted blanket have lower rates insomnia and anxiety. Using a weighted blanket isn’t the only thing you should be doing, but it’s an easy way to incorporate comfort into your nighttime routine. You can choose from hundreds of options on the market or even make your own weighted blanket.
5. Don’t ignore your anxiety
All the advice in the world won’t help you sleep better with anxiety if you don’t acknowledge that you feel anxious. Whatever you feel – stressed, scared or worried – accept it so you can deal with it.
It is a good idea to try to integrate anti-stress activities into your daily routine to keep things from piling up overnight. Try one daily walking or other exercises to reduce anxiety. There’s no set time frame for when you’ll start falling asleep faster – it probably won’t be instantaneous. However, if you find that your anxiety is continually taking over your sleep, it may be time to talk to someone.
The sleep tips don’t stop there. Also check out the 7 natural sleep aids for insomnia, what foods to eat to get tired, and why you should prioritize your sleep needs.
The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute medical or health advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have about a medical condition or health goals.