A Vicious Sleep Cycle
Anxiety and lack of sleep can be a vicious cycle. Feeling anxious is linked to difficulty sleeping, while a lack of sleep can make anxiety symptoms worse. And the more someone experiences reduced sleep quality, the higher anxiety at nighttime can skyrocket. Try these tips for decreasing night anxiety and improving sleep.
Various medical therapies can improve a person’s anxiety symptoms. These might include medication, psychotherapy, or treating any underlying conditions such as chronic pain. People may also benefit from specific supplements, such as L-arginine, L-lysine, or kava.
The 4-7-8 breath
One of the most common physical symptoms of anxiety is an accelerated heart rate and quick, short breaths. To alleviate this, practice deep breathing before bedtime. One method that some experts recommend is inhaling for 4 seconds, holding the breath for 7 seconds, and then exhaling for 8 seconds. This breathing pattern can help some people with decreasing anxiety and improving sleep.
When anxiety is high, a person may feel disconnected from the present environment. Specific grounding techniques can help to alleviate racing thoughts and calm the mind down. For example, try saying the current date out loud or touching an object and focusing on the texture to increase sensory awareness.
Write it down
Some people may notice that anxious thoughts increase because of worry about daily activities. In these cases, try writing a to-do list for the next day or week. Some people may also benefit from journaling before bed to help wind down.
Improve your sleep hygiene
People with anxiety should stack as many cards in favor of sleep as possible. Create a healthy sleep environment by making sure that the room is cool and dark and free of distractions. Create a sleep schedule with a consistent bedtime and wake-up time. Avoid looking at screens such as phones or tablets at least an hour before bed.
Move more to sleep better
Regular exercise has been linked to better sleep quality and duration. Additionally, consistent movement can lead to an improvement in anxiety symptoms in general. Try to avoid exercising right before bed, as this can increase energy and make sleep more difficult. Instead, opt for morning or afternoon workouts.
When to see a doctor
Everyone feels anxious or has trouble getting to sleep once in a while. But if these challenges are consistently interfering with daily life, schedule an appointment with a healthcare provider. Chronic insomnia can have adverse health effects, such as an increased risk of high blood pressure and depression. A healthcare provider can help individuals find strategies and treatments to decrease anxiety and sleep better.