How To Overcome Anxiety Before Bed For A Good Night's Sleep
Published on 30th November, 2023
We've all been there before - the clock ticks relentlessly, and as the night deepens, an unsettling sense of anxiety creeps in. Despite the exhaustion, the prospect of a restful night's sleep becomes elusive, overshadowed by the looming worry that we won't find the rest we so desperately seek. This occurrence, known as sleep anxiety, is an unwelcome companion for many, disrupting the serenity of bedtime. Understanding the roots of sleep anxiety becomes vital in ensuring you get the recommended 8 hours of sleep you require.
Read on as we uncover the meaning of sleep anxiety, why we feel it, and what we can do to overcome this uneasy feeling.
What is sleep anxiety?
Sleep anxiety is a form of anxiety specifically related to bedtime and the anticipation of sleep. Individuals experiencing sleep anxiety often find it challenging to relax and unwind, leading to prolonged periods of wakefulness and a restless night. This phenomenon can manifest in various ways, including racing thoughts, muscle tension, and an overall sense of unease (Cleveland Clinic, n.d).
Why do we feel anxiety before bed?
Understanding the roots of bedtime anxiety is crucial for developing effective coping mechanisms to overcome it. Several factors contribute to this pre-sleep unease.
● Unhealthy sleep habits
Research indicates that a lack of sleep can induce anxiety, and it further suggests an increased likelihood of experiencing sleep difficulties in individuals with mental health conditions such as anxiety (Pires et al., 2016). Furthermore, irregular sleep schedules, lack of a bedtime routine, and poor sleep hygiene contribute to sleep anxiety. The body thrives on consistency, and deviations from a regular sleep routine can trigger anxiety about the upcoming night's rest.
● Stress and overthinking
The demands of daily life can create a cascade of stress and overthinking as we finally lay down to rest. Unresolved issues or looming deadlines may flood our minds, making it difficult to transition from an active state to a restful one. Additionally, this cycle of stress and overthinking often manifests in the form of stress dreams, where the subconscious mind grapples with unresolved concerns and anxieties. These dreams may serve as a reflection of the mental turmoil experienced during waking hours, further complicating the quest for a peaceful night's sleep.
● Negative thought patterns
Anxious thoughts can create a vicious cycle, reinforcing the fear of sleeplessness. Fear of not being able to sleep can actually contribute to the difficulty in falling asleep.
How to overcome anxiety before bed?
Conquering sleep anxiety involves adopting a holistic approach that addresses the root causes and incorporates healthy sleep habits. Here are some practical strategies to help you overcome anxiety before bedtime:
● Seek professional help
If anxiety before bedtime persists, consulting with a mental health professional, such as counselling services in Singapore, can provide personalised strategies and coping mechanisms. A therapist or counsellor can assist in identifying underlying causes of anxiety and work with you to develop effective ways to manage and alleviate bedtime stress.
● Use a meditation app
Integrate mindfulness into your bedtime routine by using meditation apps designed to promote relaxation. Apps such as Headspace and Calm often offer guided sessions, calming music, and breathing exercises to help quiet the mind, making it easier to transition into a peaceful sleep.
● Invest in a weighted blanket
Weighted blankets have proven to be a successful method for alleviating anxiety and facilitating better sleep, primarily due to the application of deep-pressure stimulation. Research conducted in 2020 revealed that individuals incorporating a weighted blanket into their sleep routine exhibited lower instances of insomnia and anxiety (Ekholm et al., 2020). While it is important to note that using a weighted blanket is not the sole solution, it serves as a convenient means to incorporate comfort into your nightly rituals.
● Address negative thought patterns
Challenge and reframe negative thoughts about sleep. Instead of dwelling on the fear of not sleeping, focus on positive affirmations and thoughts. Remind yourself that sleep is a natural process, and even if you don't sleep well one night, you will have another opportunity the next. Professional counselling services can also help with identifying and addressing deeper issues that may be contributing to negative thought patterns around sleep.
Overcoming anxiety before bedtime is a crucial step toward achieving a good night's sleep and maintaining overall well-being. Incorporating these strategies into a nightly routine can lead to a positive shift in the quality of sleep, ultimately promoting physical and mental health. For more personalised guidance and support, consider seeking individual counselling for adults in Singapore. Remember, overcoming sleep anxiety is a gradual process, so do be patient and consistent in implementing these changes for a more restful night ahead.
Cleveland Clinic. (n.d). Sleep Anxiety. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/21543-sleep-anxiety
Ekholm, B., Spulber, Ş., & Adler, M. (2020). A randomised controlled study of weighted chain blankets for insomnia in psychiatric disorders. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, 16(9), 1567–1577. https://doi.org/10.5664/jcsm.8636
Pires, G. N., Bezerra, A. G., Tufik, S., & Andersen, M. L. (2016). Effects of acute sleep deprivation on state anxiety levels: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Sleep Medicine, 24, 109–118. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sleep.2016.07.019