It's possible to get a good night's sleep without turning to medication, but there are some changes you have to make to your habits
Sleep deprivation from anxiety can feel pretty overwhelming! Without sleep we can suffer from a range of mental and physical issues that can make daily life difficult.
It might be tempting to reach for some medication to help you fall asleep, but there's more to sleep than just nodding off; you need to experience all phases of sleep to get the health and wellbeing benefits; studies have shown that like alcohol, medication can get you to sleep but not into the essential deep stages.
We born without sleep disorders, so how can we get rid of the issues we've picked up that have gotten in the way of our natural rythms? Tryinh the techniques we've listed below can help you to get back to your natural sleep patterns, restoring your health and reducing your anxiety.
This means going to bed at the same time every night! We've all been guilty of staying up late to finish a task or a tv show or a movie, but this habit is confusing for our body clock and makes it difficult to get to sleep when you want to.
To set the time when you go to sleep you have to listen to your body. If you find yourself feeling drowsy around a certain time then listen to that signal; your body clock changes as you get older so the time that you need to get tucked in to bed will to, just because you could stay up till 12 as a teenager doesn't mean you should now! The older you get, the eariler in the evening melatonin release reaches its peak, promting you to go to bed earlier, refusing to obey the change of rythm and pressures of your body over time can lead you to sleep debt.
It's also important to consider the seasons, our bodies respond to sunlight and the lack of it an cause your body to naturally start feeling tired; you could ignore it, but it can alter your sleep cycle (affecting your anxiety levels).
It's easy to let different parts of your life blend together, especially now with lockdown and work from home. But even when our lives are not affected by a global pandemic, we tend to send emails from bars and use dating apps at work. And although we might think that doing a bit of work before going to bed is productive, the multi-tasking that comes from it is not.
To favour a good night sleep, it's good to leave you work outside of the bedroom. Your bedroom should become your personal spa; keep your room neat and tidy away from any reminder of the mundane. Leave everything that triggers your anxieties in the other room, you don't need it. However, if you're a naturally messy person then it's fine, as long as it feels uncluttered to you.
You should force yourself to make your bedroom a screen free zone. Exposure to blue light, emitted from digital devices and LED lighting suppresses the release of melatonin. Avoiding the use of devices that emit blue light is not only important before bedtime, but also during the night. If you wake up in the middle of the night for example, resist the temptation to tun on your phone; this will wake your brain and make it even more difficult ot go back to sleep.
So how do I wake up without setting an alarm on my phone, you may ask? A solution might be to get yourself an old school clock to check the time and use it as an alarm. Doing so may prevent you from checking the time on your phone, avoiding expsure to blue light, as well as the temptation to check emails or Instagram.
Another reason why some people struggle to fall asleep is because their pre-bedtime routine is not conducive to falling asleep. To make it easier, the hour or so leading up to when you turn off the lights should be focused on relaxing and slowing your body down; listening to relaxing music or meditating should help.
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Instead of scrolling through social media which can make you feel overwhelmed, or binge watchin the last season of The Crown on Netflix, you could try a no-tech solution to help you fall asleep. You could lay on your bed with lights dim or completely turned off, place your hands on you stomach and close your mouth. Slowly inhale through your diaphram and hold for a few seocnds. Then slowly exhale through a small opening in your lips. By repeating this exercise several times, you will start feeling more relaxed, melting all the stress away. And either before or after this, you could induce relaxation by slowly tensing various muscles groups, holding for a few second and then releasing.