Sleep is a vital component of an anxiety-fighting endeavor, yet it’s one of the first victims every time anxiety rears its ugly head. You don’t have to feel defeated by an endless cycle of anxiety and lack of sleep, as this article will show you how to lessen your feelings of anxiety while getting more shut-eye.
Anxiety can affect the quality of you sleep in a myriad of ways, one of the most common being racing, catastrophic thoughts that you have difficulty controlling. Even people who don’t frequently suffer from anxiety can relate to nights where they lying worrying themselves sick in bed, endlessly ruminating over a particular problem they’ve been dealing. For the typical person, these nights are infrequent and culminate when the problem is resolved. For individuals with an anxiety disorder, this characterizes more nights than not. In order to get a good night’s sleep your mind must be relaxed.
In addition to racing thoughts, your body may be suffering from the ill effects of the “fight or flight” response. This response has an evolutionary purpose, as it was designed to keep us on the alert so we could react quickly to dangerous predators. However, this response goes into overdrive for people who are suffering from anxiety, and it often happens in the most inconvenient situations. The “fight or flight” response and the surge of adrenaline it sends throughout the body can lead to heart palpitations, muscle tightness, rapid heartbeat, sweating, dry mouth, and a host of other unpleasant symptoms that can disrupt your sleep cycle and keep you up at night.
Fortunately, there are a variety of ways that you can address your anxiety and lack of sleep. You can begin by making your bedroom a place of comfort and relaxation, a true escape from the stresses of the world. Try to keep your room neat and uncluttered as this can add to your stress, even though you may not consciously realize it. Do a little research on aromatherapy; lavender in particular is touted for its relaxation and sleep benefits. A cup of chamomile tea before bed can do wonders to relax you, and other herbs you should consider include passionflower and kava kava. Remember to eliminate caffeine for at least a few hours prior to retiring, and try to cut back on it in your overall diet as much as possible, as it can exacerbate anxiety symptoms. For some people, keeping the television on at a low volume can aid in sleep, but for others, this can only serve as a distraction. If you’re in the latter category, turn off all electronic devices for an hour before going to sleep, as your mind and body will need time to wind down from the rigors of the day.
Journal writing has been shown to be very beneficial for anxiety sufferers, and an ideal time to engage in this activity is at night before going to sleep. Stream-of-consciousness writing is particular recommended-just get your thoughts and feelings out there on paper, without regard to perfect spelling and punctuation.
Try to get at least a half-hour of exercise in every day, as this has been scientifically shown to help you sleep better as well as address anxiety issues. Yoga before bed can also be helpful, as it promotes levels of anxiety-reducing GABA in the brain. There are a variety of relaxation strategies that you can try that focus on breathing and the reduction of muscle tension. Progressive muscle relaxation can put your mind and body in the perfect state for sleep. You can do this by breathing in deeply to the count of five, holding the breath for five seconds, and then slowly releasing it. Then, focus on a particular muscle group, tense the muscles for five seconds, and release them. Be sure to pay attention to how your muscles feel when they are tense, and how they feel when they are released.
These are just a few strategies that you can use to relieve your anxiety and sleeplessness. If anxiety continues to be an issue for you, it’s important to contact a skilled therapist who can help you address any underlying thought patterns that may be causing your anxiety.
“Sleep Deprivation.” Science Daily News. <http://www.sciencedaily.com> 10 Jan 2013.