Another night, another battle with the sleep demons. Another block of hours spent tossing and turning fitfully, wondering why something supposedly so natural is so very hard. Followed by the dawning realization that it’s already dawn, and now you have to get up ‘ despite how much your mind and body scream at you to rest.
Sound familiar? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Most of us get stressed about a lack of sleep at one point or another, and many of us don’t know what to do about it.
And it’s important that we do something. Because a lack of sleep has serious consequences for our mental and physical health. These range from the irritating, like an inability to lose weight or feeling anxious the following day, to the more severe, like heart disease and depression.
If you already know about the importance of sleep, well not getting enough is probably making you even more anxious, right? I get it. It’s a vicious circle. So I’m here to help you break out of that circle and send you on a straight path to dreamland.
Follow these 5 tips to beat anxiety at night and enjoy a sounder sleep.
1. Cut Down on Caffeine
It should be an obvious one but few of us pay heed to it, with coffee dates stretching later and later into the afternoon. And actually, coffee really isn’t the best idea for those suffering from anxiety, especially women, as it can wreak havoc on the adrenal glands.
Still, if you need that caffeinated bolt in the daytime and can’t quit the coffee, enjoy it in the morning instead. Anything past 2 o’clock can disrupt your sleep patterns, without you even realizing it.
I know, I know there’s nothing quite like a great cup of coffee after a meal out at your favorite restaurant. And I wouldn’t want to deprive you! In these cases, ask if they have decaf instead. Or try a cup of refreshing peppermint tea ‘ it’s better for digesting that big steak anyway’
2. Say No to Sugar
I promise I’m not trying to be a total killjoy here! But caffeine and sugar have similar effects on the adrenals, so eating/drinking too much sugar at any time of day ain’t gonna help that anxiety.
And obviously, the body converts the glucose from sugar into energy; great for getting us through that early-morning meeting, not so great for getting to sleep.
So when you’re reaching for an evening snack, opt for something that’s low in sugar but that fills you sufficiently to avoid a rumbling tummy keeping you awake.
Some oatcakes and almond butter would be ideal as almonds contain tryptophan (which produces serotonin, or the “happiness hormone’) and magnesium, which acts as a muscle relaxant. The result is a calmer body and mind to aid that journey into slumber.
3. Power Down Early
One of the major causes of society’s inability to sleep is our addiction to screens. We’re watching movies in bed, we’re checking emails on our phones in the middle of the night and we’re probably dreaming about Facebook-stalking our ex while we’re at it! Not only do these things stir up all kind of anxieties in our minds, but the physical screens are also disturbing our sleep, too.
So take my advice: turn off those devices an hour before bedtime. That means your TV, your laptop and your phone. Leave it in the other room so you won’t be tempted to reach for it, and buy an old-school alarm clock instead.
4. Create an Evening Routine
Now you’ve got all this extra time on your hands before bed, use it wisely. Change into your pajamas early, do whatever tasks you need to do for the following morning then start to wind down with plenty of time before bedtime. Have a bath, read a book, do a yin yoga class or a guided meditation ‘ all of which can help you to relax your body and mind.
Do this every night, at the same time and just like a baby, the familiarity of this routine will send the necessary signals to your brain; that sleepy time is soon.
5. Do Your Research
These are just a few tips to help you get a better night’s sleep. But there are plenty of great resources out there with some really helpful advice… so use them! For instance, the Sleep Advisor website includes all things sleep and bedtime-related. And whether you want to know the optimum sleeping position for your personality or more ways to enjoy your waterbed, you’ll find a heap of information there.
Aside from that, ask your well-rested friends: “What helps you sleep at night?” Sharing is caring after all and once you find something that works, make sure to pass your sleepy wisdom on!
So may you have a sweeter, deeper sleep tonight, and every night?
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