1. Watch the video
2. Check out the tips
3. Take action
It’s time to get yo sleep back!
Get Back to Sleep After Anxiety
I’m so thankful you are taking this first step to get your sleep back!
Why are we looking at sleep and anxiety? Well, they are tied closely together. Anxiety can cause sleep problems, and if chronic it’s called insomnia.
On the flip side, if a person has poor sleep, or insomnia, it can cause an anxiety disorder.
Besides anxiety, insomnia is tied to potentially severe medical conditions, such as obesity, heart disease, disruption of hormones (insulin, epinephrine, estrogen, and cortisol are some hormones impacted), and high blood pressure.
It’s time to nip this in the bud.
What I have curated here are tips that have helped me as sleep problems were something I struggled with. I also included tips that I have recommend, with success, to clients in the Life Coaching World, and to consumers / patients in the Occupational Therapy world.
Please keep in mind this is not an all-inclusive list. Please check with your Naturopathic or Primary Care doctor before starting any ingestive or topical suggestions.
- Average of 31.1% of US adults experience anxiety
- Insomnia affects about 30% of adults and is the most common condition that can aggravate anxiety disorders
- Anxiety problems of all kinds are generally worse after a poor night’s sleep
Tip 1 Bedroom Setup
Have a clean, quiet, dark, cool, comfortable, no electronic, no stressor bedroom is best. Actions to take to make the bedroom function at optimal level:
- Use the bedroom for sleep & sex only
- Our bodies learn what rooms are used for, and associating deadlines, social media, or other stressors with the bedroom does not equate to good sleep
- Have clean, soft, breathable sheets
- Have a mattress that is YOUR Goldilocks (not too soft, not too hard)
- Supportive pillows
- Perhaps one for head. One for under the knees if sleeping on back, or between knees if sleeping on side
- No electronics in bedroom (tv, phone)
- Put your phone on silent, face down if needed for alarm
- Put your phone in another room
- TV off! The light disrupts deep sleep and the sound keeps our brain focused on the TV instead of restorative, restful slumber
- Clutter free bed, floor, and dressers / chairs / nightstands
- Keep the room as silent as possible
- Use Earplugs, white noise / sound machine
- Keep the room as dark as possible
- Use blackout shades
- Keep the room cooler
- 65° is the optimal room temperature. However, adjust as needed, with the goal of the room to being cool
Action: Pick 1 or 2 tips here to get started and implement them TODAY! In the next days, weeks, or months, add in others.
Tip 2 Prepare for sleep
Having a bedtime routine is important for 2 reasons. One is to keep your internal clock in check, and the other is to set up your brain to go, “Oh! Bedtime! I need to start secreting my sleep hormones”. OK, ya, I know kind of cheesy, but honestly your brain learns your behaviors, and in turn, secretes hormones to help enforce those behaviors. Teach your brain that it’s time to go to sleep. Actions to take:
- Best to have early morning cardio, and strength training / yoga can be done any time of day (per latest research 4.17.18)
- Eat dinner 2-3 hours before sleep
- Some night time snacks to promote sleep include handful of nuts, cottage cheese, raspberries, kiwi, turkey
- 4oz-6oz glass of warm milk to promote sleep
- Dehydration lead to nocturnal leg cramps, fragmented sleep, and can compromise your alertness, emotional control, energy, and cognitive performance the following day. Check with your doctor how much water you should drink
- Drink water. It bears repeating
- Spread your fluid consumption over the day. Drinking a lot before bed can cause sleep disturbances due to full bladder
- Avoid nicotine and caffeine late in the day – at least 6 hours before bed
- Wind down for bed 1-2 hours before sleep with a routine. Find YOUR routine and keep at it every night, even on weekends
- Explore routines that can work for you
- Dim the lights
- Read a book
- Turn off TV
- Write down your successes or what you have accomplished
- Take a shower
- Have sex
- Write in gratitude journal
- Drop the temperature in the house
- X (insert your calming idea)
- Alternative options to look at:
- Take a Melatonin supplement. Melatonin is a hormone that is central to getting to sleep
- Drink Sleepytime tea, or tea with Chamomile in it. Make sure the tea is caffeine free
- Explore routines that can work for you
Action: Pick 1 tip here to get started and implement it TODAY! In the next days, weeks, or months, add in others.
Tip 3 Be Present
This is the crux of the matter, isn’t it?
First: anxiety is against being present. We are thinking about the future and freaking out, being overwhelmed, worrying, or catastrophizing OR we are in the past thinking about our regrets, what we were embarrassed about, being hard on our self, etc., etc.
I know you know what I mean!
For me, turning off the anxiety at bedtime was the hardest part. 100% honest, I had to go through life coaching to turn off the endless chatter. Life coaching MADE ME (cause its action oriented) be kind to myself, give myself compassion, let me explore and test out ways to connect with the present (hello meditation!), and relax into the breathing. With Occupational Therapy, I know Cognitive Behavior Therapy, which is a fancy term for challenging our negative thoughts and behavior. Combining what I know, and have used, here are some relaxation tips and ways to be more present.
- Abdominal breathing. Breathing deeply and fully, involving not only the chest, but also the belly, lower back, and ribcage. Close your eyes and take deep, slow breaths, making each breath even deeper than the last. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.
- When going to sleep, use 5-4-3-2-1 technique. Identify 5 things that you can feel, 4 things that you can relax, 3 deep breaths, 2 things you can hear, and 1 thing you are grateful for. This will help with being present.
- Progressive muscle relaxation. Make yourself comfortable. Starting with your head and shoulders – down to your toes, tense the muscles as tightly as you can. Hold for a count of 10, and then relax. Notice how those muscles now feel. Continue to do this for every muscle group in your body, making sure to stop and take notice of your body.
- Mindfulness meditation. Sit quietly and focus on your natural breathing and how your body feels in the moment. Allow thoughts and emotions to come and go without judgment, always returning to focus on your breathing and your body.
- Remaining passively awake, also known as “paradoxical intention”. Since worrying about not being able to sleep generates anxiety that keeps you awake, letting go of this worry and making no effort to sleep may, paradoxically, help you to unwind and fall asleep.
Challenging negative thoughts that fuel sleep problems – courtesy of https://www.helpguide.org/articles/sleep/therapy-for-sleep-disorders.htm
|Challenging negative thoughts that fuel sleep problems|
|Negative thought: I should be able to sleep well every night like a normal person. Sleep-promoting comeback: Lots of people struggle with sleep from time to time. I will be able to sleep with practice.|
|Negative thought: It’s the same every single night, another night of sleepless misery. Sleep-promoting comeback: Not every night is the same. Some nights I do sleep better than others.|
|Negative thought: If I don’t get some sleep, I’ll tank at work and jeopardize my job. Sleep-promoting comeback: I can get through work even if I’m tired. I can still rest and relax tonight, even if I can’t sleep.|
|Negative thought: I’m never going to be able to sleep well. It’s out of my control. Sleep-promoting comeback: Sleep problems can be cured. If I stop worrying so much and focus on positive solutions, I can beat it.|
|Negative thought: It’s going to take me at least an hour to get to sleep tonight. I just know it. Sleep-promoting comeback: I don’t know what will happen tonight. Maybe I’ll get to sleep quickly if I use the new strategies I’ve learned.|
Action: Pick 1 tip here to get started and implement it TODAY! In the next days, weeks, or months, test out others to see if they are more helpful. If you pick 1, and it is immensely success, stick with it!
- Get your hormones, thyroid, Vitamin D, & yeast levels checked
- Earthing / Grounding Mat (contact firstname.lastname@example.org )
- What the what, what? Scientifically proven, used by yours truly, and family – these mats reduce inflammation in the body and help you fall asleep, AND help with emotional stress – http://www.earthinginstitute.net/research/
- Biofeedback – find a local facilitator
- Hypnotherapy – can be local or remote
- Life Coaching (me, pick me! contact me! )
- Essential Oil for both anxiety & sleep – make sure they are “pure”
- Roman Chamomile
- Ylang Ylang
Action: Research these alternative options, and if interested, pick 1 or 2 and go for it! Keep in touch. Let me know what tips benefited you the most.