According to Sleep Advisor, 30% of Americans struggle with insomnia. 10% of Americans suffer from chronic insomnia, a long term sleep disorder strongly related to sleep anxiety. Anxiety disorders and panic attacks can lead to all sorts of sleeping problems. Fortunately, there are many relaxation techniques to help people struggling to fall or stay asleep, and reduce anxiety. Sleep deprivation(lack of sleep) can affect performance at work or school, which can even lead to more anxiety.
Read on to learn more about how you can stop your anxiety from getting in the way of your sleep.
1.) Sleep with Music
Can music help you sleep? Yes, but it depends on the type of music. Blasting Metallica though your studio speakers will just make things worse. However, music with relatively slow beats is better for helping you fall asleep.
There is a strong connection between music and sleep. A study from Semmelweis University had a group of students listen to classical music 45 minutes before bed, and they saw a significant decrease in depression, anxiety, and sleep-related symptoms. Music is able to do this, by decreasing your heart rate. A good place to start looking for music would be Lo-fi beats and Macaroni Union.
If you’re listening to music while going to bed, refrain from using speakers. Michael Breus, a Ph.D. sleep expert says, “It’s fine to fall asleep listening to music, Breus says, but don’t wear earbuds or headphones to bed. They can be uncomfortable, and if you roll over wearing earbuds, you could hurt your ear canal, Instead, he recommends pillow speakers.”
You can try using sound pillows that have integrated speakers. Sound pillows have MP3s attached with preloaded speakers. Or you can purchase pillow speakers, pillows with built-in speakers and soundtracks designed to help set a sleep-inducing vibe.
2.) Read a Novel
If you’re trying to calm your anxiety before getting some sleep, grab a novel off of your bookshelf and read a few chapters. Most novels are based around a protagonist’s journey that accomplishes several fears beyond your wildest dreams. Simply reading a novel, promotes personal growth and reduces anxiety. Using books for the treatment of mental disorders is a long-time concept known as bibliotherapy. A meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials shows us that reading books can help treat depression and anxiety disorders.
Also, reading a book is a great way to avoid any sources of blue light before going to bed. Blue light is emitted from artificial lighting and electronic devices(phone, laptop tv,). it is recommended to avoid blue light for one hour before going to sleep.
Although, If you prefer to read books on your phone, Kindle or any other electronic device there are some solutions. Most new smartphones have a blue light filter, that will partially lower the amount of blue light. Also, there are tinted glasses.
3.) Avoid Sleep Disturbances
Setting up a calm sleep environment can not only help you fall asleep and stay asleep as well. For instance, many people go to sleep while watching their favorite TV shows on Netflix. One problem with watching TV is the intense plot lines that leave you thinking about what’s going to happen after every episode.
Violence and suspenseful moments in these action-packed movies can cause you to feel anxious. Some people may experience second-hand anxiety — Getting anxiety just from putting yourself in the T.V. character’s shoes.
Also, the blue light emitted from the T.V. can affect your body’s sleeping cycle. Even a small light from your alarm clock can impact your sleep. Blue light from the TV can affect your body’s natural sleep clock. If you share a bed with a partner who watches T.V. before bed, you can use a sleep mask to help block out the light.
Talk to your partner about watching a genre that isn’t as intense, or have your partner use headphones. Even though you may not be paying attention to the program, the sound waves can also get in the way of staying asleep. Many people can suffer from night terrors that are related to having the T.V. on while sleeping. Another alternative would be for you to wear earplugs to block out the noise, which you can purchase for a relatively low price on Amazon here.
4.) Talk to your doctor or therapist
If sleep anxiety is keeping you up to consider speaking with your doctor or therapist. A medical professional will be able to help diagnose other health conditions(e.g. sleep apnea) that could be affecting your sleep.
A doctor or therapist may be able to prescribe medication or treatments to help you overcome sleep anxiety.
5.) Breathing Techniques
Breathing is necessary to live, yet most of the time your body breathes on auto-pilot. Sometimes, our breathing patterns can contribute to anxiety symptoms. The next time you’re going to sleep, check to see if you’re breaths are harsh and shallow. Some people may realize that they’re breathing is more shallow than a movie actor pretending to be asleep. Try deep refreshing breaths instead
Breathing techniques can help you fall asleep and/or deal with panic attacks, by relaxing your heart rate. You can try using the 4-7-8 breathing technique — Breathe in for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 7 seconds, then exhale for 8 seconds.
Breathe with your Diaphram(Abdomen)
There are two main types of breathing you need to know, thoracic(chest) breathing, and diaphragmatic breathing. Thoracic breathing should be avoided because it can increase anxiety symptoms, try breathing through your diaphragm instead
There’s an exercise for diaphragmatic (abdominal) breathing. Breathe in slowly through your nose, relax your shoulders, and let your diaphragm(stomach) expand. The chest should barely rise on inhalation if you’re using your abdomen correctly. Then, breathe out slowly using your mouth, with a relaxed jaw.
6.) Try a Weighted Blanket
A weighted blanket is exactly what it sounds like. Weighted blankets are used to help lower stress, and bring on a feeling of calmness. The weight comes from glass beads or plastic pellets, or extra fabric layers.
Weighted blankets are good to help if you or your child have anxiety, ADHD, autism or any other
Sensory disorder, A doctor or therapist may recommend a weighted blanket to help get some sleep. These blankets relieve stress, by applying pressure to the body, similar to a medical technique called deep pressure stimulation(DPS). You can get a custom weighted blanket for both you and your kids.
7.) Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia(CBT-I)
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for insomnia helps you recognize and deal with negative thought patterns and beliefs that cause anxiety-induced insomnia. Your sleep therapist may use CBT-I as a treatment for chronic insomnia. The American College of Physicians strongly suggests CBT-I therapy as the first step in treating chronic insomnia.
Here are some techniques and treatments you can expect during CBT-I therapy:
- Managing Anxiety before bed
- Sleep Instructions
- Sleep Hygiene
- Relaxation Training
- Sleep Cycles and techniques
If you’re interested in CBT-I treatment try talking to your doctor, or if you’re a college student, your school may have some sort of free counseling. You can also speak to a CBT-I therapist through online-therapy.com, which is currently offering a 20% discount.
8.) Increase Melatonin Intake
Blue light lowers the body’s production of melatonin(hormone). Your body starts producing this hormone in the afternoon, making you feel more sleepy as the day goes on. Furthermore, higher melatonin levels are associated with reduced anxiety levels as well.
Here are different ways to increase melatonin:
Melatonin can also be bought over the counter at the various drug and food stores, or you can purchase it online here.