5 ways to manage your anxiety-related insomnia

With everything going on in the world today, it is no wonder that many people are struggling with high anxiety levels.

Anxiety often leaves you unable to sleep at night which can also have a negative impact on your day to life, affecting your work, studies, or relationships.

Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to help you manage your anxiety-induced insomnia.

What causes anxiety?

Anxiety can be triggered by a number of factors. Some people may be more genetically predisposed to develop anxiety while other people develop anxiety as a result of a, particularly stressful life event.

Anything from relationship troubles to problems at work and anything in between can trigger anxiety in certain people.

If you find that you suffer from anxiety, it is a good idea to try to recognise your triggers. Knowing your triggers will give you a better idea of how you can manage your anxiety better.

How does anxiety cause insomnia?

When you are dealing with any sort of anxiety, lying in a dark and quiet room can make those anxieties seem bigger than they are. The lack of distractions also makes you focus more on what is causing anxiety in your life which in turn, leads to increased anxiety levels.

An increase in your anxiety levels can cause an increase in your heart rate and your body will also release adrenaline. This is called the “fight or flight” response and is your body’s natural response to a threatening situation.

Once this happens, your body becomes over-stimulated, making it incredibly difficult for you to drift off to sleep.

Anxiety-related insomnia is unfortunately a vicious circle. Your anxiety keeps you awake at night, which makes you even more anxious the next day and in turn, makes it harder to fall asleep the following evening. And rinse and repeat.

If you find that you are dealing with anxiety-related insomnia on a regular basis, you should take the relevant steps to begin to overcome and manage your anxiety before it completely impairs your day-to-day life.

5 ways to manage your anxiety-induced insomnia

Below, we list 5 ways you can effectively manage anxiety-induced insomnia:

1. Relax by taking some deep breaths

I know that sounds ridiculous considering the anxieties you’re dealing with are keeping you awake at night; however, it is a really simple and effective way to slow your heart rate and relax your muscles. Take a long, deep breath in through your nose and then exhale slowly through your mouth.

As you’re doing this, try to imagine all the oxygen filling your body and relaxing your muscles with each breath.

Not only will this calm you down and slow your heart rate, but it will also force you to focus on something different and take your mind off your anxieties.

Another effective method of relaxation is meditation. There are lots of guided meditation playlists available on most music streaming apps. Following along with one of these playlists every night will help you to relax and could help you beat insomnia altogether.

2. Get up out of bed

If your anxious thoughts are causing your head to spin and you don’t see any sleep in your immediate future, get up out of bed and do something to occupy your mind.

Make sure whatever you decide to do is relaxing and soothing and not stimulating.

Some examples of things you can do are colouring in an adult colouring book, listening to some relaxing music, doing some gentle stretching exercises, or reading a chapter of a book. Having a cup of herbal tea, such as chamomile, is also a good idea.

3. Try to avoid late nights

Adults need around 8 or 9 hours of sleep a night in order to feel properly refreshed the next day.

If you go to bed too late and spend a long time fighting off insomnia, you will not get the required amount of sleep and as a result, you will feel sluggish and irritable the next day.

Going to bed at a reasonable time will ensure that even if you do spend a part of the night dealing with insomnia, you will still have an adequate amount of sleep.

4. Prepare for the following day

Before you go to bed, lay out your clothes for the following day, have your packed lunch prepared and take care of anything else that you can for the next day. This will alleviate some of the stress you’re carrying by helping you feel more organised.

Create a to-do list if you need to and tick each item off as you make your way through the list.

5. Develop a bedtime routine

Developing a bedtime routine helps to train your brain into knowing when it is time to sleep and when it is time to wake up. An hour before bed, you should switch off any devices such as laptops, mobile phones, and television sets as these emit blue light which tricks your brain into believing it is daytime.

Then, have a relaxing bath. Using a lavender bubble bath will also help to relax you. After your bath, relax with a cup of herbal tea while reading a book or listening to relaxing music.

Then go to bed. Doing this every night will eventually send a message to your brain that it is time to unwind for the evening.

Other ways to promote healthy sleep

Although it might seem tempting to have a glass of wine or a tin of beer before bed to help you sleep better, alcohol is a stimulant, so it is not a good idea. You might fall asleep quickly, however, you will undoubtedly wake up after a few hours and be unable to get back to sleep.

Avoiding sugar is also recommended as it can lead to restless sleep and cause you to become jittery and on-edge.

Stay away from caffeine after lunchtime. Caffeine releases serotonin, dopamine and adrenalin which will make it very difficult to fall asleep and can also heighten your anxiety.

Finally, if you feel that you have tried everything and nothing seems to be working, and your anxiety is affecting other parts of your life such as your relationship or your job, it could be time to visit your healthcare provider.

It is not worth suffering in silence and your GP will be able to guide you towards other remedies such as medication or a mental health professional who can help you to overcome the root cause of your anxiety.