8 Tips To Help You Fall Asleep When Fighting Anxiety
Your head hits the pillow, and your mind takes off.
Anxiety always seems to show up at the worst possible times. And, often, the more you try to make it go away, the harder it fights back and refuses to leave.
If counting sheep doesn’t work and you’re tired of staring at your ceiling wondering Will I ever be able to sleep like a normal person?, try these 8 tips to calm your anxiety and finally fall asleep.
Lifestyle Tips To Help You Fall Asleep Faster
We’ll get to quick-fixes in a minute, but first, it’s important to understand that you can do certain things in your daily life that make falling asleep easier.
If you have trouble falling asleep at night, chances are you’re doing something to interrupt your natural sleeping patterns without realizing it.
#1. Get More Sunlight
One of the things that helps you fall asleep is your body’s production of melatonin. This is why some people take melatonin supplements to get to sleep.
The best way to increase your body’s production of melatonin is to get more sunlight during the day.
If you’re unable to spend more time in the sunlight, consider light therapy, which is often used to replace sunlight for seasonal affective disorder patients during winter.
Regular exercise can help you burn off extra energy and has been shown to make falling asleep easier and improve sleep quality.
In addition to helping you sleep, exercise improves a number of other health markers as well.
#3. Reduce Artificial Light Exposure Before Bed
Do you use your phone or watch TV in bed?
If so, you’re exposing yourself to blue light—which suppresses melatonin production and makes it harder for you to fall asleep.
Eliminate all sources of blue light at least 1 hour before bed. This will signal your body to start producing melatonin and make it easier for you to fall asleep.
#4. Make A Bedtime Routine
We often have so much to do that we stay busy until our heads hit the pillow.
If that’s you, no wonder it’s hard to fall asleep!
It’s hard to go from one extreme to the other. Add a bedtime routine to your schedule, so you can give your body and mind the space to wind down, become grounded in the present moment, and get ready for sleep.
Here’s a sample bedtime routine you can steal to fall asleep faster:
- Turn off all electronic devices 1 hour before bed.
- Make a cup of relaxing tea.
- Read a fiction book.
- Journal about the events of your day.
- Perform mindfulness meditation.
- Go to sleep.
Quick Tips To Fall Asleep Faster
Sometimes you aren’t able to spend time in the sunlight, exercise, turn off the computer, or perform your bedtime routine. If that’s the case, what can you do to relieve anxiety and fall asleep fast?
#1. Perform A Deep-Breathing Exercise
Deep breathing can reduce your heart rate and calm anxiety.
A commonly recommended deep breathing exercise to help people fall asleep faster is called 4-7-8 breathing. Here’s how to do it:
- Sit in a chair or on the floor with your back vertical and supported.
- Put your tongue up to the roof of your mouth (and keep it there).
- Inhale quietly through your nose for 4 seconds.
- Hold your breath for 7 seconds.
- Exhale audibly through your mouth for 8 seconds.
- Repeat 4 times (or more, if desired).
#2. Use Essential Oils
Essential oils have been used to aide in sleep, health, and general well-being for many years. You can use essential oils in different ways:
- Put a few drops in a diffuser
- Put about 10-15 drops in a rollerball and apply to your wrists, back of neck, or your temples for best results.
Here are some of the best essential oils for anxiety:
- Ylang Ylang
Often, we can’t fall asleep because our minds won’t let us. There are simply too many thoughts bouncing around in our heads to find peace.
If that sounds like you, try this next time you find yourself lying in bed awake.
- Get out a sheet of paper or journal.
- Set a timer for 5 minutes.
- Write for the entire 5 minutes. Don’t stop writing. Whatever is on your mind, get it onto the page. If there are any difficult situations on your mind, write potential solutions.
- At the bottom of the page, write an agreement with yourself: “I give myself permission to relax now. I will rest tonight so I can deal with these situations effectively tomorrow.”
- Sign and date next to the agreement.
#4. Stop Trying To Fall Asleep
This might sound counterintuitive, but if you’ve tried everything and you absolutely cannot fall asleep - stop trying!
Make a challenge with yourself to stay awake as long as possible.
By using reverse psychology in this way, you take the pressure to fall asleep off yourself. Once you stop pressuring yourself to fall asleep, you may find that your mind slows down and sleep comes more easily.
Falling asleep with anxiety can be a challenge, especially when you don’t know how to slow your mind down. Use the tips in this article to fall asleep when you’re fighting anxiety.
Author Bio: Donna Durham is the founder and president of Weighting Comforts, a company that creates weighted blankets that relieve anxiety and improve sleep. She’s also a licensed therapist in Tennessee.