Prioritising a good night’s sleep isn’t just important for your general health, it can also help with feelings of anxiety, as your body is less likely to feel overwhelmed or on edge when you’ve slept well.
However, falling asleep can be difficult, so it’s important to build a strategy for a better night’s sleep. Below are some tips to try in order to improve your chances of falling asleep naturally.
Try Staying Awake
Often, one of the most ineffective ways to fall asleep is to try to force yourself to lay down. This will only result in you tossing and turning for hours, unable to fall asleep.
Instead, try avoiding the bedroom until you naturally feel sleepy. If this means spending the whole night awake, not getting any sleep, then try saving this technique for the weekend so you can catch some sleep when your body naturally wants to sleep.
Many people have a different circadian rhythm — the natural clock in our head that helps us fall asleep — and it could be that your rhythm simply occurs at an abnormal hour of the morning. Once you do start feeling sleepy, allow yourself to go to bed and focus on your breathing instead of any other anxieties.
Keep a Sleep Log
Sleep logs can be useful to help you catalog when you fall asleep and how much sleep you were able to get. You can also take note of all the activities you do before you fall asleep, and this may help you notice a pattern.
You can also create your own in a personal journal (we have one).
Get up at the Same Time Daily
Creating a routine can be an effective way to combat sleep anxiety and insomnia. By getting up at the same time every day, your body will naturally start to adjust your internal clock or circadian rhythm.
We have found that getting up at the same time every day helped the participant’s body feel sleepy around the same time every night. Over time, this helped the participant’s bedtimes become consistent.
However, creating a nighttime routine can also have similar effects. Creating a nightly routine can help relax your body as it starts to anticipate and expect sleep as you follow through each step. It can also help relieve anxiety, as you know what to expect each night and each morning.
Do a Bedroom Makeover
Another helpful trick is to make your bedroom a place for nothing but sleep. Tidy and make it more inviting.
If you come into your bedroom and still can’t sleep, don’t just lay there and wait for slumber to hit. Instead, read or do some breath work.
Keep Your Room Cool
Keeping your room dark and cool can also have major effects on your ability to fall asleep. Avoid putting a space heater in your room (unless you really need it) so as to keep the room cooler than the rest of your house. You can also cut out some of the natural light and heat by installing blackout or custom curtains over your windows.
Limit Caffeine and Other Stimulants
For many people, cutting out caffeine from their diet can be very difficult, but caffeine can greatly hamper your ability to fall asleep. Additionally, as a stimulant, caffeine can make your anxiety much more pronounced, and you may have a difficult time calming down if you drink excessive amounts of coffee.
It could also be getting in the way of you achieving a good night’s sleep. Try avoiding caffeine at least four to five hours prior to when you want to go to bed.
If you know of any other forms of stimulants that you may be taking, try avoiding those at least a few hours before bedtime, as well.
Additionally, some recent studies, such as one conducted by Harvard Health, have come to find that “blue light” (any light that is blue in hue, which is common with televisions, laptops, and smartphones) can keep the brain active, stimulated, and awake, as it suppresses the secretion of the hormone melatonin. This is the hormone responsible for helping you fall asleep, so try avoiding blue light, or wearing amber glasses to suppress the effects of the light, at least two hours prior to bedtime.
Get Rid of Your Clock
Clocks can be a common trigger for anxiety, especially when you’re trying to fall asleep. Instead of having a clock by your bedside — where you can glance at it every time you struggle to fall asleep — keep a clock outside your room instead. Looking at the clock will only cause your anxiety to get worse, so avoid it altogether.
Try Relaxation Techniques
Another way to prep your body for bedtime is to practice some relaxation techniques as you prepare for bed. This can include:
- Creating a warm bath to sit in for a few minutes prior to going to bed.
- Listen to calming music as you brush your teeth, change, and get ready for bed.
- Practice some deep breathing exercises or guided meditation.
Combine this tip with going to bed and getting up at the same time every day, and you may be able to create a relaxing sleep routine that will help your body naturally get sleepy. Routines can really do wonders in calming the brain. You can also get meditation-themed bedroom decor to make the space more conducive to relaxation, even when you aren’t trying to sleep.