Insomnia and anxiety, unfortunately go hand and hand. Most people who struggle with anxiety also experience insomnia several nights a week. Difficulties falling asleep or waking in the middle of the night are common. Sleep is critical to our emotional and physical health. Follow this simple guide below to improve your sleep.
1. Sleep only as much as you need to feel refreshed during the day. Restricting your time in bed helps to deepen your sleep. Get up at your regular time the next day, no matter how little you slept.
2. Get up at the same time each day, 7 days a week. A regular wake time in the morning leads to regular times of sleep onset, and helps to set your “biological clock.”
3. Exercise regularly. Schedule exercise times so that they do not occur within three hours of when you intend to go to sleep. Exercise makes it easier to get to sleep and to sleep more deeply.
4. Make sure your bedroom is comfortable and free from light and noise.
5. Make sure that your bedroom is at a comfortable temperature during the night.
6. Eat regular meals and do not go to bed hungry. A light snack at bedtime (especially carbohydrates) may help sleep, but avoid greasy or “heavy” foods.
7. Avoid excessive liquids in the evening.
8. Cut down on all caffeine products. Caffeinated beverages and foods (coffee, tea, cola, chocolate) can cause difficulty falling asleep, waking during the night, and shallow sleep. Even caffeine early in the day can disrupt nighttime sleep.
9. Avoid alcohol, especially in the evening.
10. Smoking may disturb sleep. Nicotine is a stimulant. Try not to smoke during the night when you have trouble falling asleep.
11. Don’t take your problems to bed. Plan some time earlier in the evening for working on your problems or planning the next day’s activities. Worrying may interfere with initiating sleep and produce shallow sleep.
12. Train yourself to use the bedroom only for sleeping. This will help condition your brain to see bed as the place for sleeping. No not read, watch TV, or eat in bed.
13. Do not TRY to fall asleep. This only makes the problem worse. Instead, turn on the light, leave the bedroom, and do something different like reading a book. Don’t engage in stimulating activity. Return to bed only when you are sleepy.
14. Put the clock under the bed or turn it so that you cannot see it. Clock watching may lead to frustration, anger, and worry, which interfere with sleep.
15. Avoid naps. Staying awake during the day will help you fall asleep at night.
16. Need more inspiration on how to cope with insomnia? Listen to this National Public Radio (NPR) Perspective called, “Embracing Insomnia: The Best Time.”