Sleeping with anxiety

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Insomnia and waking during the night are common complaints of those with anxiety. However, sleep problems caused by anxiety aren’t limited to people with diagnosed anxiety disorders. A lot of people have difficulty sleeping, mainly due to stressful or hectic lifestyles.

Sleep is vital for bodily repair, cognitive function, and general all-round health. Lack of sleep can lead to poor performance (at work, school, college etc.), increased risk of injury, or health problems. Those with diagnosed sleep disorders are also at risk for heart disease, heart failure, irregular heartbeat, heart attack, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, and obesity.

If you have an anxiety disorder, then getting treatment with cognitive therapy, meditation, or medication can help improve sleep. However, the following are tips and ideas one can try on their own to sleep better.

Establish a Regular Routine

Maintaining a regular sleeping schedule ranks highly as one of the most effective ways of attaining a good night’s sleep. Block out seven to nine hours a night for uninterrupted sleep, and try to wake up at the same time every day, including weekends.

Establish a relaxing bedtime routine. Never watch TV, use a computer/laptop/mobile, or do something stressful like pay bills before going to bed. Read a book, listen to soft music, or meditate instead.

Create a Relaxed Bedtime Environment

Most people will find it hard to sleep in extremely hot or cold temperatures or in a noisy environment, so make sure your bedroom is cool, dark, and quiet. Consider using a fan to drown out excess noise, and make sure your mattress and pillows are comfortable.

Also, use your bedroom as a bedroom — i.e. for sleeping and relaxing, not as an office or a study area — and get into bed only when you are tired. If you don’t fall asleep within 15 minutes, go to another room and do something relaxing.

Reduce Stress and Anxiety

If you’re worried, stressed or angry, you will most likely find it hard to sleep. The psychological and physical benefits of regular exercise have been proven to help reduce such anxiety. However, limit your workouts to mornings and afternoons and not before bedtime.

Avoid looking at the clock, instead turn it away from you as this can make you anxious in the middle of the night.

Check Your Diet

Avoid stimulants like caffeine, chocolate, and nicotine before going to sleep as these will keep you awake for longer, in addition to alcohol. Also, avoid heavy meals also as they require a lot of time to fully digest.

David Clarke