Top 5 Ways to help Anxiety-Led Insomnia

 Insomnia is one of the most common sleep disorders, with approximately 50% of adults reporting having experienced it, 10% chronically. There’s many things which can cause insomnia and its often hard to pinpoint exactly what causes it, mainly because it can be triggered by a range of lifestyle, medical, mental and physical factors.   

 anxiety and insomnia

 

Insomnia is starting to be thought about as a problem with the brain failing to switch to its sleep cycle (it has two cycles – an awake and a sleep cycle and they can’t both operate at the same time) which can be caused by either having too much ‘wakefulness’ or not enough ‘sleepyness’. Anxiety-led insomnia can occur regardless of physical health and at any age and can be hard to treat as there aren’t any quick fixes. The good news is that there are tips and tricks to reduce anxiety which can greatly improve sleep.

 

Anxiety often makes it hard for people to fall asleep and to stay asleep. It’s not unusual with the quiet inactivity of the night, for worries and fears to surface uncontrollably.

 

Here are our top 5 ways to treat anxiety-led insomnia:

 

1. Offload your mind

A major cause of anxiety-led insomnia is caused by an overloaded mind and it can affect people in different ways. Sometimes it’s a fear of not remembering everything you have to do and sometimes it is associated with feeling overwhelmed. In these instances, keep a pen and notebook by your bed so you can write down all the things you need to do or even just one thing that you’re going to complete the next day so you can put your mind at ease that you won’t forget anything. The physical act of writing down what’s on your mind can be enough to help you feel like you’ve mentally dealt with it and can now relax and therefore sleep. Similarly if you’ve got worries on your mind, write those down and see if that helps you sleep better.

 

2. Find time to breathe

Even though we don’t think twice about breathing (after all, it comes naturally), the way we breathe can greatly impact our body and mind. By taking deep breaths and focusing on drawing out the inhale and exhale for longer than we normally would, we can naturally relieve stress and anxiety. Deep breathing relaxes the body by affecting the nervous system and inhibits stress-producing hormones. Try closing your eyes and breathing in and out slowly five times. You should feel your shoulders relax and tension leave your body. This is a great practice to try before bedtime and any time you wake during the night and feel stressed. 

 

3. Relax before bed

Too many of us have forgotten how to relax! We mistakenly turn to our phones, scrolling numbly through social media accounts, or switch on the TV and sit slumped before it, often whilst eating our meals. Trying to do too many things or by watching stimulating TV (stay away from action films, thrillers and suspense programs especially), we don’t allow our brain or body to prepare for sleep. Find ways to wrap up your evening which promote true relaxation; having a warm bath, reading, listening to gentle music or just going through the routine of getting things prepared for the next day e.g. setting out clothes or packing your bag can help.

 

4. Use acupressure points

Acupressure has been a form of Chinese healing for many years and works by applying pressure to certain points of the body. There are invisible energy lines running over the body which connect to various points and by using firm pressure on these points, energy blockages can be released to restore good health back to the body. For anxiety, there are several acupressure points which you can try. However, you don’t need to use them all so start with one which is fairly easy to find – the HT7 point. If you draw an imaginary line down the space between your ring finger and little finger and intersect it just below where your wrist creases, you’ve found the HT7 point. Press this firmly with your thumb for a few minutes before swapping sides. Do this any time you feel stressed and especially before bed to help reduce anxiety. If you want to make sure you’re getting the full benefit of this pressure point, you can buy patches which apply pressure on this point for you whilst you sleep. It is called H7 Insomnia Control. Apply it at night on both wrists and see results after 6  to 15 days. This is ideal for those who want to find an easy and natural way to aid a good night’s sleep.

 

5. Reframe your mind

If one of your main reasons for not being able to sleep is due to excessive worrying or a fretful mind, then changing the way you think about things can greatly improve anxiety-led insomnia. If you’re a worrier, remind yourself that there are some things which you can’t control. By surrendering to a concern or a situation beyond your control and acknowledging that even if you don’t particularly like it, you will accept it, you can bring on feelings of release and relief.

 

There are many ways to help reduce anxiety-led insomnia so take time to experiment and find a technique which works best for you. Not being able to sleep isn’t normal and if you’re experiencing anxiety or disrupted sleep make an appointment to see your GP or health professional.