Five Tips To Help With Sleep Anxiety
You know the feeling - you are tossing and turning, you've drank ever herbal tea there is, and you still can't fall asleep. Sleep is crucial to our mental and physical wellbeing, and yet our sleep is impacted by our mental and physical health. Many individuals who struggle with their mental health may experience difficulty sleeping, or sleep anxiety. Whether you are dealing with depression, anxiety, or something else, you may have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. This can happen for many different reasons, though there are a few things that you can try to help.
Sleep Hygiene & Routine
Having a consistent and predictable routine is one of the most crucial parts of being able to have good sleep. We may not think much of the fact that each evening is incredibly different and chaotic, but it actually may cause confusion for our bodies. Our bodies have natural rythms and find schedules beneficial due to the predictability. If our bodies know that we begin winding down at 9pm, brushing our teeth, taking a warm shower, and turning off screens, our bodies will naturally begin (internally) winding down at that time each day. Having rituals that we do during our bedtime routine can be helpful. Begin identifying rituals that may be meaningful to you - whether it be having a hot herbal tea every night at the same time, a hot shower with oils, or something different. Creating routine is crucial.
If there are specific triggers that may be keeping you up at night, a gentle container meditation may be the way to go. A container meditation leads you through visualizing a container that is safe and strong and can hold all of your worries or disturbances that may be coming up. This is frequently used in any kind of trauma therapy, and can also be found on some meditation apps or on Youtube.
This is a style of yoga that does not involve movement. It is a state of consciousness that actually deepens your awareness. Yoga Nidra is a practice that can be used any time, not just for sleep. In fact, Yoga Nidra was not intended for sleep, though it can be very effective and useful! Connecting with a trained Yoga Therapist, going to a Yoga Nidra class, or even finding a Yoga Nidra meditation on Youtube can all be great ways to connect with yourself and deepen this practice.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
This is a practice that has been used in psychotherapy practices, yoga studios, and more. It can be as simple as it sounds, or more in depth. It's most important that it feels natural and useful for you. A therapist may utilize this in session with you in order to help deepen your awareness, elicit relaxation, and help calm your nervous system. The practice involves tensing one muscle group at a time, and then relaxing it. For example, you may tighten your shoulders up to your ears for a count of 5 and then relax them, all while engaging your breath. Many meditation apps have included this as a meditation, or you may also find one on the internet by Googling or searching Youtube.
It can feel like a vicious cycle - we don't get enough sleep so we pound caffeinated beverages all day, and then we can't sleep again that night. According to the FDA, caffeine remains in our system 6 hours after drinking it. That means that if you drank a cup of coffee or a soda at 6pm, it is still in your system until midnight. This is important to keep in mind throughout the day in order to stop the cycle.
It's okay to need help with your sleep
Most importantly, remember that it's okay to need help with your sleep. If you have tried all of the meditations, herbal remedies, routines, and more, and nothing seems to be working, it's absolutely okay to seek outside help. It might be time to explore your sleep anxiety with a therapist, speak to your general practitioner, or consult with a psychiatrist. Sleep is crucial for our mental and physical health and it's important to prioritize yourself.