Stress is a significant contributor to insomnia and other sleeping problems. In addition, people who suffer from mental health issues, especially anxiety, can find it very difficult to get some sleep or even stay asleep for that matter.
The anxious thoughts and general pronounced worries about anything happening in your life can prevent your brain from winding and settling down, and sleep deprivation is likely to keep you on edge the following day, not to mention you feel less productive and more stressed.
The truth is you do not need to have a certified diagnosis to realize the negative effects of worry and stress on your sleeping patterns. In addition, the problem is very prevalent, as more than forty million Americans know that they have been through a sleep disorder in the long term, and many more going through sleep disruption from time to time.
So, what exactly happens first?
It is likely that you have wondered what happens first, between suffering anxiety and lack of sleep. The answer is complex though; as scientific research reveals that the relationship is more of a bi-directional one. What this means is that problems with sleeping patterns can lead to anxiety, as well as anxiety leading to problems with sleep.
In addition, sleep problems and anxiety have similar overall effects – they affect you emotionally, physically and mentally.
Because of the strong relationship these problems have, it is very essential to discuss them both with your personal doctor. If left unaddressed, they can cause issues such as heart attacks, injuries, stroke, blood circulation issues, diabetes, among other conditions. Using treatment options when you have not addressed the management of stress and anxiety is unlikely to leave a lasting positive impact on your health. Here are some steps to address the problem.
Create a sleeping schedule and stick to it
When trying to improve the quality and quantity of your sleep, it is important to create a regular routine and sticking to it. This will in turn create a regulation of the ‘internal clock’ your body has, which means you will not need an alarm that much to wake up early in the morning. It also improves your ability to rest completely.
With this rule, it is important that you do not sleep in, even if you are using a comfortable mattress from Tuft & Needle at Lowe’s or during weekends (when many people are tempted to sleep in). Just ensure you experiment with different sleeping and waking times, and find what works best for you.
Reduce or eliminate napping from your schedule
Napping may seem okay, but it becomes counterproductive very easily when trying to sleep at night – especially when it is too long. Try to limit it to no more than thirty minutes, and do it in the early afternoon as opposed to late afternoon or evening. The later your napping session is, the greater the chances of interference with your sleep time at night.
Reduce your interaction with electronic devices
Before you set off for bed, make sure you reduce your activity with electronic devices, at least for thirty minutes to an hour before bedtime. This is because they emit blue light, which the brain interprets as being daytime, and the production of the hormone melatonin is suppressed. This hormone is responsible for regulating the ‘sleepiness’ levels you feel, and the more it is, the more sleepy you become.
These devices such as computers, TV screens, digital clocks and even your phone will interfere with the ability to sleep, so turn them off, keep them in another room, or reduce their brightness to the lowest level.
Dimming the lights
In addition to limiting the use of electronic devices just before bed, it is also important to reduce the brightness of your bedroom lights, as well as your house in general. The bulbs in your bedroom should not be above certain wattage, and it is good to switch them off when you go to sleep – otherwise, the release of melatonin will be interfered with, and you will not be able to sleep properly.
Avoid alcohol and caffeine
While alcohol may be presented as a viable option when you are trying to sleep, the truth is that it does not really help the mission to sleep better. In fact, you will find yourself awake after some hours, even if you blacked out after a glass or bottle of an alcoholic drink.
In addition to that, caffeine is a bad idea when you are trying to get some sleep. Keeping the fact that it is a stimulant, it will affect different people in different ways, but the general rule is to reduce your intake after the early afternoon hours, around 2 P.M. it is important to not take it two hours before bedtime as well, otherwise you will have a hard time falling asleep.
Incorporating exercise into your routine
Exercise remains a great stress reliever, and it helps you deal with weight management, in addition to helping you feel energetic and good. It also helps in dealing with poor sleep quantity and quality.
Ideally, the best time to have an exercise session would be early on in the day, or if you are late, doing it three to four hours before your bed time hours. In addition, winding down and stretching exercises are important, as they assist the body to relax completely.
Stay away from nighttime snacks
The larger the meals you consume before going to bed, the more difficult it will be to try and get some sleep. If you must snack though, make sure you stick to something that contains complex carbohydrates, or a dairy product. These include cheese and crackers, or cereal with milk.
The quality and quantity of sleep you get everyday will be a result of various factors, so it is important to deal with all of them to ensure you get the best quality. It is even more important to deal with them if you are suffering from anxiety or any other mental health condition.