Feeling worried or anxious is natural. These emotions help our bodies recognize stressors and deal with them effectively. You feel anxious after being exposed to stress. As a result, your body produces cortisol, a hormone that drives it into a fight or flight state. That helps you push your limits and overcome different obstacles. While unpleasant, acute anxiety can be useful in certain situations.
However, there’s nothing beneficial that comes with chronic anxiety, or anxiety disorders in general. In fact, one of the worst effects of anxiety is developing sleep disorders. Here’s how anxiety affects our sleep and what we can do about it.
How Anxiety Affects Our Sleep
It’s common for people suffering from extended anxiety to develop sleeping problems. They may struggle with falling asleep, develop abnormal sleep patterns, or suffer from insomnia. In other cases, they can develop sleeping disorders like sleep apnea, sleepwalking, and narcolepsy. Sleep disorders are a common occurrence with most psychiatric conditions, and the relation between both is a bit complicated. Current sleeping disorders may push the individual to develop a psychiatric condition, like anxiety, and psychiatric conditions may trigger sleep disorders as well. To make this vicious loop worse, both conditions worsen the negative impacts of the other.
Remedies for Anxiety-Induced Sleep Deprivation
Thankfully, there are many remedies to relieve anxiety-induced sleep deprivation. Here are a few things you can do to deal with anxiety and get better sleep at night.
1. Exercise and Yoga
You’ll often hear advice about regular exercise, that’s because its effects are miraculous on the body. You can even say that exercise helps you restart your body’s systems, just like a PC’s system reboot takes care of all its crashes and performance issues. Exercise and yoga have multiple benefits, ranging from strengthening the body and improving its functions to clearing your mind, help you stay grounded and focused, and give you a way to vent out the accumulating stress.
2. Breathing Techniques
One of the reasons why yoga is so effective is because of the breathing techniques involved. Breathing helps your body get more oxygen, which in turn, makes you more relaxed and clear-headed. However, you don’t have to pull out a yoga mat every time you’re trying to sleep or calm down. For instance, the 478 breathing technique is an effective way to relax your body and induce sleep at any time. To reap its benefits, inhale deeply for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 7 seconds, then exhale through your mouth for 8 seconds.
3. Meditation and Mindfulness
Exercise and yoga are also great for how focused they get you. However, you can work further on these mental benefits through meditation and practicing mindfulness. Meditation and mindfulness help you focus on the present moment; they keep you grounded and make you more aware of your body and strengths. They help you build both the mental strength to combat anxiety and calm you down to sleep better.
4. Avoid Stimulants
If you’re an avid coffee-lover, then you may find this point a little difficult to abide by. However, drinking caffeine close to bedtime can disrupt the sleep time of any regular person, so imagine what it’d do to someone suffering from insomnia. As a general rule, you want to avoid drinking or consuming any stimulants, at least 5 five hours prior to sleeping. This includes alcohol and stimulating medications.
5. Develop a Sleep Routine
Falling asleep would be so much easier if you programmed your body for the sleep process. First of all, you should take advantage of your body’s biological clock, aka circadian rhythm, and stick to regular sleep and wake-up hours. It’s best if you place your meditation and breathing practice right before bedtime so they’re included in your sleep routine. Make sure to set up your environment to aid sleeping by turning off the lights, plating white noise in the background, setting the right room temperature, and getting a comfortable bed, pillows, and covers.
Anxiety drains the soul on its own, so the worst that can happen to an anxious person is to suffer from sleep deprivation on top of that. Although it can feel hopeless at first, there are many things you can do to stop your anxiety from interfering with your sleep patterns. For starters, developing a regular exercise routine can help you vent out your stress in a healthy way.
Regular physical activity can also strengthen your mind and body. In addition to working out, you can also learn breathing techniques, practice meditation and mindfulness, avoid stimulants close to bedtime, and develop a sleep routine.