Chronic anxiety can often be hard to deal with, but it doesn’t have to interfere completely. In spite of some challenges that may feel overwhelming, it is possible to manage your life and get treatment and help. One area that can be difficult, yet indispensable for your thriving is sleep. Getting a full night of sleep is vitally important for your mental and physical health, because it allows your body and mind to reset and refresh, and have enough energy to deal with the day. Yet it can sometimes be difficult to turn our minds off or relax enough to sleep a full 8 hours of deep, uninterrupted sleep. Here are some pointers to help you sleep well, so that you can wake up facing each day ready for it.
Keep a Regular Schedule:
Going to bed and waking up at the same time helps to set your internal clock and condition your body to keep a regular schedule. Find the time that works for you, and work to start going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. Generally, you should also try to get your sleep in one long session, so it’s best to avoid naps, if at all possible.
Avoid Caffeine or Alcohol:
Caffeine is a stimulant that charges your brain up and makes it a lot harder to try to wind down or relax, getting into a state that invites sleepiness. Generally, it is recommended that you avoid coffee, chocolate, and tea after the mid-afternoon, to ensure its effects aren’t going to get in the way of your sleep.
Alcohol can have a relaxing effect, but should not be used to promote sleep. Adequate sleep that truly restores your body and mind is based on a rhythm of deep sleep and dream-filled rapid-eye movement sleep. Heavy drinking can cause your body to slip right into deep sleep, disrupting your body’s normal cycles and making it more likely you will wake up in the middle of the night.
Turn Off The Screens:
Studies have shown that the lights from television, computer, and phone screens can trick our brains into thinking it’s not nighttime yet, and keep them from releasing melatonin, the main hormone that makes us feel relaxed and ready for sleep. Generally, avoid looking at screens within 30 minutes of getting ready for bed. Reading a book can be a substitute that’s more relaxing on your eyes.
Establish a Relaxing Routine:
A busy mind is one that is going to make it more difficult to fall asleep. Heavy mental engagement is going to make it harder to wind down. Having a relaxing routine helps get your mind ready for bed, knowing it’s the proper time for sleep, which in turn helps your body cooperate. If stressful thoughts come up, mindfully acknowledge them, write them down to worry about later if necessary, and then focus on other things.
You can meditate, think about things from the day you are grateful for, listen to soothing music or sounds, or even “counting sheep” (or thinking anything else that takes your mind away from your worries and towards the reality of the present moment.) You can also start dimming or turning off lights, and allow a cool, dark setting to help you nod off more easily. If possible, go to your bedroom only for sleep and relaxing activities, so that going there further promotes a sense of restful relaxation.
If you do wake up or find yourself unable to sleep, get out of bed rather than trying to fight it too much. Go into another dark room and read something gentle and easy, or do another activity that feels relaxing to you. It might take some time, but do whatever you can to get into the habit of setting that time apart for resting. The rest of your life will be easier to handle if you do.