Anxiety is one of the most common mental health concerns across the world, heightened over the past year and a half by the global Covid situation. In 2020 alone, almost half of the UK reported having “high” ratings of anxiety (49.6%), which was a sharp rise from the 21% of the year before. This amounts to around 25 million people all suffering from anxiety at different levels and for many of us, it could be affecting how we sleep each night. Here, we’re exploring what you could do to improve your sleep if you struggle with anxiety.
How Anxiety Can Affect Our Sleep
Anxiety can affect our sleep in a number of ways, but in particular can make it difficult to both fall, and stay asleep throughout the night. It becomes a vicious cycle, in which the lack of sleep can worsen anxiety, and that anxiety can make sleep even harder. Anxiety has often been linked with sleep disorders like Insomnia too, with those affected often finding it hard to switch off and sleep at night, or are simply more reactive throughout the night due to a heightened state of stress. Sleeping problems are listed as a symptom of all kinds of anxiety disorders, including OCD, PTSD, Generalised Anxiety Disorder and some depression/anxiety combinations. Those with anxiety disorders that may trigger nightmares may also find it difficult to fall asleep due to distress about falling asleep at all.
What Can You Do About It?
What you can do will ultimately depend on the anxiety that you are experiencing and what the cause of that anxiety is. For more extreme cases, you may need to speak to a medical professional for more personalised advice, but the following tips can be applied to help create a better overall environment for sleep if you’re experiencing anxiety:
Stick To A Routine
After a year and a half of uncertainty, a routine might feel like a pipe dream. Whether you’re working from home, or have been navigating home schooling, these changes to our daily lives can affect not only anxiety and stress levels, but how we sleep after a long day. However, despite all of these changes, keeping a routine as much as possible could help you maintain your body clock and sleep through the night. While it might take some time to get into the routine, taking steps to go to bed and wake up at similar times each day and night will help to sync your body clock and help you to feel tired at the right times.
Create A Good Bedroom Environment
Without a comfortable bed and a well thought-out bedroom, you’re unlikely to get the best night’s sleep that you possibly can. Replacing your bed and mattress could do wonders for helping you to get comfortable and fall asleep of a night, particularly if your existing mattress is over 7-8 years old, or your bed is broken or suffering from wear and tear. Your bedroom should be a comfortable environment, with a supportive bed and the ability to keep the room cool and quiet when needed. Avoid working in your bedroom too, leaving it as a space meant entirely for relaxing and sleep at the end of the day.
Try To Be Active During The Day
Exercise during the day, even something as simple as a walk, can improve the quality of your sleep at night, provided you don’t exercise too close to bedtime. Exercise during the day will not only help your sleep quality, but it will also help to improve your mood, your focus, can help to combat stress and may even help you feel better within yourself. Start with exercise that you enjoy, whether that’s swimming, walking, cycling or something else, and then build up a daily routine from there.
Embrace Natural Light
Between lockdowns and working from home, we’re actually getting less natural light than we may be typically used to. Without the daily commute or without as many outings as usual, we could be missing out on valuable time outside, which could be affecting your mental and physical health. Where possible, try and work close to windows and take the time out to go for a walk or spend some time in the garden if you have one. This light can help to make us more alert and reset our body clock.
Stay Away From Electronics… And Not Just For The Blue Light
You’ve probably heard before that we should be staying away from electronics in the evenings due to the blue light emitted. This light can trick our body into thinking it’s still daylight and make it difficult to switch off to sleep. However, beyond that light, staying away from electronics when suffering from anxiety could also help you switch off your mind. Stepping away from social media or the news can take us away from the worries of the outside world and give you the opportunity to truly stop and unwind however you see fit, whether that’s reading, drawing or another hobby entirely.
Try Breathing Techniques Or Meditation Apps
There are plenty of meditation and breathing apps popping up lately, some of which may be better suited for you than others. Using these apps might seem counterproductive when avoiding electronics, but popping in your headphones before bed without the screen can still offer plenty of benefits. Practicing relaxation techniques guided by the apps or podcasts, including different breathing exercises, could help you to relax and reduce your anxiety before sleep, ultimately helping you get a better night’s rest.
Speak To Your Doctor
If you believe that there is a serious underlying cause of your anxiety, it’s important to speak to a medical professional. This is also the case if your anxiety is seriously affecting your sleep or your everyday life. They may be able to suggest a more personalised management plan depending on your situation and help you get back on track to a good night’s sleep.
For more information about how our beds and mattresses could help you sleep better, or for advice on which one is better for you, get in touch with a member of our team, today.