Anxiety can manifest itself in many ways. That’s why people experience symptoms of varying severity when dealing with the condition.
Most people, however, understand that the most common symptom of anxiety is a sense of fear or worry. That underlying worry tends to “trigger” other symptoms, which can lead to difficulties sleeping.
People with anxiety often have racing thoughts. You might find yourself constantly wondering “what if,” or even focusing on something you did in the past that’s causing you distress. Those thoughts can be hard to keep under control—especially at night when you don’t have anything else to distract you.
So, how can you stop anxiety and ruminating thoughts from keeping you awake?
Establish a Sleep Routine
One of the best things you can do for yourself is to improve your “sleep hygiene.” This refers to everything you do before you go to bed to ensure a better night’s sleep.
That starts with establishing a healthy nighttime routine.
Try to go to sleep at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning. Use your bedroom only for sleeping, not for watching television, reading, or scrolling through social media.
Speaking of electronics, try to avoid them for at least an hour before going to bed. They can stimulate your brain and make it harder to fall asleep.
Meditate Before Bed
If you’re struggling with racing thoughts, try to calm your mind and body as much as possible before you go to sleep.
Meditation can help, even if you’ve never done it before. You don’t need to know any specific “chants” or rules. Simply close your eyes and focus on taking slow, deep breaths. Let thoughts pass through your mind without holding onto them.
A few minutes of meditation can be extremely relaxing, and end your day on a positive note so you can get a better night’s sleep.
Meditation and mindfulness throughout the day can also help you feel more relaxed, so you can take care of worrying thoughts as they come, rather than letting yourself get bombarded by them every night.
Don’t Stay in Bed if You Can’t Sleep
Have you ever been in bed, tossing and turning, unable to get your thoughts to “turn off,” and before you know it, your alarm is ringing?
There’s nothing more frustrating.
However, you could be making a mistake by staying in bed and letting your thoughts take over.
If you’re unable to sleep because of ruminating thoughts, try to avoid lying in bed. Your mind and body need to associate your bed with a place to sleep. If you “toss and turn” all night, it will be harder to make that connection.
Try to sleep for 15-20 minutes in bed. If you simply can’t stop your thoughts, get up and do something relaxing. Try meditating, reading, or even journaling. Sometimes, getting your thoughts out on paper can help, and might make it easier to get back to sleep without overthinking.
Once you feel tired, head back to your bed and try to sleep again.
Take Care of Your Anxiety
Anxiety doesn’t typically go away on its own. However, it’s one of the most manageable mental health conditions when treated properly.
If you really want your anxiety to stop keeping you awake, the best thing you can do is get to the root cause of it.
Consider talking to a mental health professional about your struggles so you can determine where your anxiety is coming from while learning effective strategies on how to manage your symptoms. Feel free to contact me to set up an appointment, and experience more restful nights!