If you struggle with anxiety, you understand that learning to manage your condition during the daytime is often only the beginning. Unfortunately for many, anxiety and insomnia go hand in hand—with many other symptoms of anxiety becoming exacerbated by consistent exhaustion, and overall poor quality of sleep.
If your anxiety is keeping you up at night, it becomes that much more difficult to function and cope during daylight hours. Improving your sleep, both in quantity and quality, can help you better manage your anxiety and retake control of your life.
Check out these four tips to help manage insomnia for a good night’s sleep:
- Keep a strict sleeping schedule every day of the week.
Routine is one of your most powerful weapons in the fight against insomnia. If your anxiety is keeping you up at night, one of the best things you can do is simplify your sleeping schedule. The more irregularities your body experiences, the more difficult it will be for you to fall and stay asleep. Make the commitment to prioritize your sleep and strictly keep to a schedule.
Go to bed and wake up around the same time each day, weekends included. Sleep schedules allow your body to “learn” when it should be tired, and when it should be energized. Your overall anxiety will be reduced by not having to worry about how many inconsistent hours of sleep you are going to get each night.
- Make your bed a place for sleeping and relaxed thoughts.
In order to help decrease your insomnia, your brain needs to associate your bed with sleep—and very little else. The more time you spend watching movies, browsing the Internet, or working on projects on your bed during the day, the less your bed will become a place for sleep and for relaxation.
Spend little to no time on or in your bed unless you are sleeping, and do not stay in bed in the middle of the night ruminating over anxious thoughts. If you become anxious and are unable to sleep in the middle of the night, leave your bed and remain in another area of your home until you are ready to go back to sleep. Train yourself to dissociate your bed and bedroom with anxiety, nervous thoughts, or insomnia in general, and you will become better able to create positive sleeping habits.
- Hide clocks and lights during the night.
Few things make nighttime anxiety worse more than staring at a clock and calculating how many (or how few) hours you have left to sleep. The more access you have to clocks, lights, and screens during your resting hours, the more awake you will typically become.
If you know ahead of time that your anxiety will likely wake you in the middle of the night, make the best possible preparations by removing wake-triggering objects like cell phones or alarm clocks. Not only will constantly viewing the time increase feelings of anxiety and dread, but your body will also become instantly more awake the moment you view strong backlights on digital devices. Set your alarm before you go to sleep, and commit to not checking the time until the sun is up.
- Use a journal or bedside notepad.
While you may feel a little silly keeping track of your thoughts and sleep patterns during the night, using a journal or simple pad of paper can significantly improve your sleep patterns, and help decrease anxiety and insomnia. Each night before you go to bed, spend 15 minutes jotting down thoughts, worries, reminders, or other information that has the potential to keep you up at night. “Purge” any anxiety-triggering information from your mind, and allow yourself to accept that your thoughts are safely written down, and will be waiting for you in the morning.
In addition to keeping track of your thoughts, make an effort to record the different times associated with your sleeping habits: when you go to bed at night, when you get up in the morning, and each time you awake in between. Look for patterns of stimulus that may be keeping you up, such as noises, times of night, or light patterns. Once you have identified these triggers, your ability to fight against them will increase.