If you suffer from anxiety, you know all about the link between your anxiety and sleep. You have probably lost sleep many nights tossing and turning with racing thoughts. But have you ever wondered if being sleep deprived actually worsens your anxiety and how you can end this vicious cycle?
Sleep deprivation increases anxiety.
We are more likely to ruminate over upsetting interactions or fret over undone chores when sleep deprived. Quite a few studies even suggest that anyone suffering from chronic insomnia is at a higher risk for developing a full-blown anxiety disorder.
But please don’t let this information panic you. Instead realize that the link between anxiety and sleep empowers you because you can ease your anxiety by tweaking your bedtime routines. You know that it is virtually impossible to will yourself out of an anxious state, but you can control your bedtime habits.
And by the way, you are not the only one struggling with this problem. As a matter of fact, more than 40 percent of adults report that stress and anxiety interferes with their sleep, according to the American Psychological Association. My 3 simple and time-tested tips can boost both the quality and quantity of your sleep.
Better Bedtime Habits Ease Anxiety and Sleeping Problems
1.Pick a sleep schedule and bedtime window, then stick with it.
Your bedtime window is the time you take to get yourself relaxed and ready to fall asleep. Some people need at least an hour of reading and relaxation before they can go to sleep, but others can drift off quicker. Figure out how much time you need.
Most adults need a minimum of 7 – 9 hours of sleep so work your way backwards from the time you have to get up in the morning and establish a “bedtime window” around that sleep schedule. For example, if you have to get up at 6:30 am to make it to work during the week, your bedtime window should be 9:00 -10:30pm. For weekends, you can slightly shift these times but no more than 1-2 hours. However, in the above example, your “hard” bedtime is 10:30 pm.
2. Set an alarm to turn off all power devices at least 1 hour before your bedtime
Remember how as a kid you kept stalling to get ready for bed while your parents nagged you? You’re still doing it. Except now you do it by watching TV or surfing the internet instead of starting a pillow fight. The light glaring into your eyes from these power devices can keep you awake and wired.
Here is where stopping anxiety in its’ track can sever the link between your anxiety and sleep issues.Watching compelling TV shows or checking facebook, twitter or whatever else floats your social media boat are all highly hypnotizing activities that make you lose track of time and your common sense. Plus you never know what upsetting facebook post will send you into an emotional tailspin.
Wing this one at your own peril, but I suggest instead that you simply set a timer that snaps you out of it and ready for bedtime. In the above example, this means your buzzer should go off at 9:30pm.
3. Put sleep spoilers on a schedule
Stimulants, alcohol, a vigorous workout and heavy meals all interfere with our ability to fall asleep or even get good quality sleep. You don’t have to give these up but you must limit your consumption of them as you get closer to your bedtime.
A few rules of thumb to follow:
– Stop consuming caffeine-containing drinks or foods such as sodas, coffee, black tea or dark chocolate after 2pm. All these stimulants inhibit your ability to fall asleep, but if you consume them only before 2pm, their effects will have likely worn off by bedtime.
– Stop consuming alcohol at least 3 hours before bedtime. Alcohol is the great pretender because on the surface it makes you feel drowsy and sleepy, but it’s likely to wake you up in the second part of the night as your body metabolizes the alcohol.
Alcohol fragments your sleep and reduces the quality of your sleep
Alcohol messes with your sleep cycle. But luckily, you can reduce these effects by stopping your consumption before 7:30pm if your hard bedtime is 10:30 pm.
– Stop any vigorous exercise or eating at least 3-4 hours before bedtime. It’s good for both your mental and physical health to break a sweat at least 3-4 times a week for 30 minutes or more. But vigorous exercise raises your body temperature whereas to fall asleep it needs to drop. Last but not least, stop eating anything heavy 3 hours before bedtime to avoid indigestion keeping you up.
Be patient with yourself
I hope these tips will be helpful to you. I have used these strategies to help patients develop better sleeping habits and to improve my own bedtime habits. As you work to integrate my suggestions, I urge you to be patient with yourself. It will take time to make these new habits second nature so resist turning this into another “thing” to stress over. No need to beat yourself up about not getting this perfect the first time around. Just keep at it and see both your anxiety and sleep improve.
To learn more anxiety defeating tips that work visit https://lafamilytherapy.com/anxiety-counseling/