Tips For Overcoming Insomnia When You Live With Anxiety
True story—I used to be an insomniac. Anxiety and insomnia tend to go hand in hand, and I could easily go to bed at 10:30 and lie awake until 2 am. That’s 3.5 hours spent lying in bed wasted.
So more often than not, some nights I would get frustrated and just go to bed at 1 am instead of trying to go to bed earlier. Needless to say, my sleep schedule was all messed up.
At some point, I must have decided enough was enough, and I did what we all do and started googling for an answer. Amazingly enough, this time I actually found one.
I read a story about a man who was seeing a therapist for other issues, but who also was suffering from insomnia. He was going to bed at 10 pm every night, lying awake until 1-2 am, and then getting up at 8 am.
What the therapist suggested was to switch his schedule around a bit to ensure he was only in bed as long as he needed to be and that he would be tired by the time he went to bed.
His therapist told him to go to bed at 11:30 pm each night and to wake up at 6:30 am. So I did this, and voila, it worked! Now, most nights I can fall asleep within 20 minutes of going to bed.
The therapist also told him that if he did not fall asleep within 20 minutes, he should get up and do something really boring until he felt sleepy and try again. I’ve found this helpful as well.
In the interests of coping with anxiety and insomnia, I’ve put together a list of best practices for you. There are several ways that you can train yourself to get better sleep without the use of prescription medications.
Don’t Force Sleep
The world moves at an alarming pace and worries can lead to very restless nights. Tossing and turning in bed is not the answer. Try not to force yourself to sleep.
If you cannot manage a good sleep it is acceptable to get out of bed. Try reading a simple book. Do not read the newspaper or any news magazine that could worsen your insomnia.
It’s Okay to Get Up
Learning new bedtime habits might seem like a major chore but it is well worth it for a good night’s rest. Associate your bedroom with sleeping. Do not read, watch television, play video games, or surf the Internet in bed.
Go into your bedroom when you are really sleepy. In about 20 minutes, if you still cannot fall asleep, leave the bedroom and wait in another room until you feel tired.
Make the Clock Your Friend
Stop staring at your clock all night if you cannot fall asleep. This will just agitate you even more.
Train yourself to get up at the exact same time every day, even if you have had no sleep the night prior. Waking up at the same time helps your body maintain a natural sleeping pattern.
There are several non-medical ways to help with insomnia. Learn to enjoy relaxation before bedtime with a warm bath and add calming essential lavender oil. Listen to soft music. Do not watch the news.
Try to avoid stressful activities like paying bills or balancing your bank account. Do not play violent or active video games before bed. Invest in a white noise machine to help soothe your nerves. Keep your room dark and avoid big meals before bedtime.
Watch What You Eat
A small glass of milk before bed should be all you need. If you must snack, consider foods high in tryptophan such as turkey, bananas, dates, yogurt, tuna, and whole grain crackers.
Avoid caffeine! Limit yourself to two caffeinated drinks before noon. Avoid them at all costs for the rest of the day.
Foods that should be avoided before bedtime are those that contain tyramine such as chocolate, ham, potatoes, sausage, tomatoes, sauerkraut, bacon, and cheese.
Try Natural Sleep Aids
There are also many natural sleep aids on the market. Valerian root has proven to be effective yet it has an unpleasant taste; opt for Valerian root pills.
Chamomile, melatonin, hops, passionflower, and skullcap are also good for overcoming insomnia and can be purchased as a compound or individually and rotated. Discuss these natural options with your doctor if you have underlying health issues.
One of the most important things to do when overcoming insomnia is to learn to turn off your mind before bed. Worrying accomplishes nothing.
Set aside time each day to think about and solve your problems so that you don’t lie awake at night. The rested feeling that you will have after your full nights of sleep will be worth it.