Sleep and Anxiety : What are the links?
There is plenty of evidence pointing towards sleep disturbance and anxiety, with sufferers staying up late into the night due to anxious thoughts.
Indeed, constant worry does inhibit our brains from switching off – meaning that with thoughts racing in our minds, peaceful, beneficial rest is rarely achieved.
Whilst sleep disorders and mental health issues are closely linked, you don’t have to be diagnosed with anxiety to experience worrisome thoughts and sleep disruption. This generation experience the most sleep disruption ever recorded – mainly due to the stresses of our modern day life.
So, what comes first?
Well, studies have shown that anxiety, stress and lack of sleep all cause each other, meaning that if we’re sleep deprived, we usually get worried and anxious, and if we’re worried and anxious – we usually experience sleep deprivation; often resulting in a never-ending cycle of events.
Check out these tips for beating stress and stopping the spiralling cycle.
Limit caffeine and alcohol.
Consuming too much caffeine, or, drinking the substance late into the day, can actually inhibit sleep and can even cause anxious thoughts to pop up as you try to get some rest.
A top tip for avoiding caffeine is to drink plenty of water throughout the day, and if you feel the afternoon slump coming on, head out for a stroll at lunchtime to get some much needed fresh air – if you work at home, maybe head out for a run!
Embrace calming exercises.
Anxiety can often manifest itself in a jumble of thoughts flying around our heads, meaning that we find it hard to focus on the most important thing: sleep.
Meditation and yoga are great for training our minds to clear away the clutter and focus on one factor.
Try downloading a few apps and give them a try before going to bed, it definitely takes practice, but with the right approach, it can really help to curb anxious thoughts.
If you’re struggling, ask for help.
At times, stopping anxious night time thoughts requires more than just exercising or turning your phone off, if the techniques discussed do not seem to work, then ask for help.
Getting to the root of your anxious thoughts can be a great way to get a better nights’ sleep.
Limit screen time.
Phones, tablets and TV screens tend to emit a substance called blue light, which can play with our natural bodily rhythms and can cause us to feel awake for longer.
Trouble is, these devices are also pretty good at providing a welcome distraction from anxious thoughts.
A great way to still get this distraction is to read a book, the compelling story will pull your mind away from anxious thoughts, and the gentle reading will hopefully send you to sleep.
Write down your worries.
A great way to combat stress and anxious thoughts in the evening is to write down everything you are worried out before heading to bed.
This way, you can look down the list and work out how to solve each and every one of them – you’ll also come across a few that will make you think why you were even worrying about them in the first place!
Plan you day.
Along the same theme of writing down your worries, a great tip is to plan a to-do list for the next day just before you head to sleep.
This way, you won’t be worrying about getting everything done in time, as your whole day will be planned for you before you even wake up!