IMPROVING SLEEP AND MANAGING ANXIETY
Many people find it hard to exercise but it’s very important to move your body. Exercise has the ability to lower anxiety and improve sleep. But try not to exercise right before sleep, as it can keep you awake. Moving your body in the morning or afternoon can help you get your sleeping and waking cycle back on track and also treat insomnia.
Control Your Environment – Controlling light, sound, and temperature can help you get a good night’s rest. The darker, quieter, and cooler you can keep your bedroom, the greater chance you have of calming your mind and falling asleep. Taking a shower or bath shortly before bed can also help lower your body temperature and help you fall asleep more quickly.
Limit Alcohol and Caffeine – Drinking too much caffeine or consuming it too late in the day can increase anxiety and inhibit sleep. Consuming alcohol close to bedtime can also increase your heart rate and keep you up. Drink plenty of water throughout the day, but don’t drink too much before bedtime, as trips to the bathroom can keep you anxious and alert. Calm your mind – There are many relaxation techniques that can help you calm your mind throughout the day and improve sleep. Mindfulness meditation, yoga, and breathing exercise can help you achieve calm, but it can also be as simple as taking a walk when you have a short break at work. If you practice techniques for calming your mind during the day, then it will be easier to trigger your relaxation response at night.
Limit Screen Time – Your phone, tablet, and TV emit light that keeps your brain awake, so try to limit them an hour before bedtime. Checking email or doing work right before bed can also trigger anxious thoughts and make it difficult to calm your brain. Consider setting an alarm to remind you to shut screens off at an adequate time before bed. Instead, consider listening to music or reading a book to quiet your mind.
Ask For Help – Sometimes managing anxious worry and improving sleep is more complicated than simply turning off your phone or getting adequate exercise. Never hesitate to ask for help if you need it from your doctor or a counselor. Sleeping problems and anxiety are highly treatable, so consider whom you can recruit today to help you rest your mind and body.
If you think you or someone you care about may be suffering from anxiety or any other mental health condition, PsyCom strongly recommends that you seek help from a mental health professional in order to receive a proper diagnosis and support.
How To Manage Your Bed Time
1. Keep your sleeping schedule the same You can improve your sleep by ensuring that you have a consistent sleep schedule. Avoid staying up late on weekends and sleeping in, then try to go to bed at your regular time on Sunday night. Going to bed early or sleeping to catch up only leads to more fragmented and poor-quality sleep. Typically, you go to bed two hours early and then just lay there wide awake, continuing to associate your bed with not sleeping.
2. Take some quiet time before bedtime Quiet time is worth its weight in gold. Give yourself at least 30 to 60 minutes of quiet, relaxed time before bed as a buffer. Nix phone screen time and replace it with reading a book, listening to calming music, taking a warm bath or having some decaffeinated herbal tea.
3. Distract Yourself If You Can’t Sleep If you can’t fall asleep, get up and try to restart by doing something to distract yourself before going back to bed. “It could be flipping through magazines, calming yoga stretches or some type relaxing hobby like knitting or coloring,” “Avoid anything that’s goal-directed or too physically or mentally activating such as house chores, paying bills or working on a computer. While it may be tempting to grab your phone off your nightstand and scroll endlessly through social media, don’t. The blue light emitted from your phone or tablet screen can inhibit your natural melatonin production which is a hormone that is involved in the timing of our internal circadian sleep clock.
4. Keep a sleep log Think of this as the diary you’ve kept in middle school. “You can track the details of your sleep patterns and lifestyle habits,” This can help you see trends in your behavior and will be useful when you discuss your insomnia with your doctor or a sleep disorder specialist. If writing things down the old-fashioned way isn’t your jam, try smartphone apps or your smartwatch to help you keep a log. The Sleep Foundation has a sample sleep log that you can download and print out, too. Remember, it doesn’t have to be complicated to work with it.