If you’re experiencing stress in your life, chances are that you might be struggling to fall or stay asleep at night. Feeling anxious about life may keep your brain from calming down, which is often followed by a restless morning that keeps you on edge all day. This may eventually lead to an even more agitated sleep the next day. One may fall into this pattern very quickly without realizing the psychological and physical impact it may have on your mind and body.
Sleep disruption is a common feature of mental health problems, and anxiety is no exception. Whether you have a diagnosed anxiety disorder or not, stress may impact your sleep patterns to the point of becoming a condition. Hence, it is important to firstly know which is causing which, for you to find a definitive solution. So what comes first, is it the sleep deprivation that increases daily stress, or is it the stress that causes the lack of sleep?
Which Comes First?
According to research, the relationship between sleep and anxiety is bidirectional. This means that sleep problems can cause anxiety, and anxiety can disrupt your sleep. And just like anxiety, sleep problems can impact how you function emotionally, mentally, and physically.
Because sleep and anxiety have such a strong relationship, it’s important to address both as separate problems, as solutions to reduce one may help the other. In addition to anxiety, sleep problems can put you at higher risk for missing work or school, injuring yourself, and developing health conditions such as heart attack, hypertension and diabetes among others. Therefore, it is imperative for you to take the necessary measures required to avoid conditions sleep deprivation and anxiety may infer in the long run.
Tips for Improving Sleep and Managing Anxiety
Exercise – when done at the right time, exercise has been found to both lower anxiety and improve sleep. But try not to exercise right before sleeping, as it releases endorphins and hyper activates the mind. Moving your body in the morning or afternoon can help you get your sleeping and waking cycle back on track
Tailor your environment – Controlling light, sound, and temperature can help you get a good night’s rest. Keep your bedroom dark, quiet, and cool as this will help calm your mind. Taking a shower or bath shortly before bed can also help lower your body temperature and help you fall asleep more quickly.
Limit carbonated drinks and caffeine – Drinking too much caffeine or consuming it too late in the day can increase anxiety and inhibit sleep. Try to drink plenty of water throughout the day, but don’t drink too much before bedtime, as trips to the bathroom may disrupt the mind from going into relaxation mode.
Calm your mind – There are many relaxation techniques that can help you calm your mind throughout the day and improve sleep. Mindfulness meditation, yoga, or breathing exercises, may also be helpful in calming the mind but it can also be as simple as taking a walk when you have a short break at work. If you practice techniques for calming your mind during the day, then it will be easier to trigger your relaxation response at night.
Limit screen time – Your phone, tablet, and TV emit light that keeps your brain awake, so try to limit them an hour before bedtime. Checking emails or working right before bed can also trigger anxious thoughts and make it difficult to calm your brain.
Ask for help – Don’t hesitate to ask for help if you need it from your doctor or a counselor. Sleep problems and anxiety are highly treatable, so consider whom you can recruit today to help you rest your mind and body and protect yourself from diseases that may be causes as a result of anxiety and lack of sleep.