How To Fall Asleep When You Are Too Anxious

Without a blunt.


You've been imagining laying on your fresh crisp bed sheets. Your pillows are all fluffed, your eyes are heavy with tire. You've had your night time shower, gotten into you PJ's. Your head hits the pillow and your eyes flutter to...wide awake. 

While your body is tired, your mind is running on overtime. Our brains are our best friends and our worst enemies. It has this built in mechanism to dwell on worst case scenarios at moments where we know we are not in danger. This is an evolutionary mechanism and completely normal. 

But when this happens regularly and you are not able to sleep and not getting enough sleep to function that is when you should be consulting a doctor. Constant worry, fear and paranoia are a group of symptoms associated with anxiety disorders. Without getting help this can lead to depression. 

Anxiety is a serious emotion that not just manifests your mind. It also manifests your body physiologically. Anxiety is a normal part of life. It is not a weakness. We all feel worry at some points in our life. But when it messes up our sleeping patterns constantly we do need to take control of it.

You are not alone. 40 million people in the U.S alone are diagnosed with anxiety disorder, that is 18.1% of the population over the age of 18 according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Anxiety disorder is completely treatable, but only 36.9% of people who are diagnosed seek treatment.

You will need to discuss with your health practitioner what is the best form of treatment. Just remember you have options and you do not need to jump on the pill train if it goes against your values or you just don't want to. Speaking to a clinical psychologist and formulating a treatment plan is an excellent way to start. Professional Tip: You don't have to settle for the first psychologist you speak to or make an appointment with. You can shop around for a psychologist that you feel comfortable opening up to, because this is the person you have to feel the most comfortable around. Your psychologist might suggest trying a cognitive behaviour treatment or CBT approach.  

One symptom of anxiety that can develop is sleeping disorders. There are numerous ways to try and put yourself to sleep, but for people with anxiety it is a lot harder. Around 20 million people with anxiety report trouble sleeping. There are many treatment options out there. But what if you are wide awake right now and have been scouring the internet for tips to get to sleep now?

You landed on the right page! We have compiled a few tips and tricks (that work!) to help you relax your body and your brain and help you get on your way to a goodnights sleep.

What are you worried about?

The first thing to address is what are you worried about? Don't think about it, you need to either write it down or say it out aloud. You need to deal with what your source of anxiety in the present moment is before you can fall asleep. By saying it out loud, you can talk to yourself about it.

Talking out your source of worry takes away the power it holds over you. What ever it is you are worried about or fear happening, ask yourself: Will I be ok after it happens? Will I still have a roof over my head? Will I still have clothes on my back? Will I still be alive and breathing? If you answer yes to these questions, how bad can it be.

One constant theme that worries us normally has to do with other people. One way to think about it: People are just people. They are made from the same building blocks you are made of. They have their own problems and worries about life. Just like you. People are just humans and I am a human. People only hold power over you if you let them. Disregard their effects and they hold no power. 

Turn everything off

You need to start seeing your bedroom as just for sleeping. Take out any technology there is in there. If you are in a studio apartment and space is a little tough, build a sleep only barrier around your bed. Your bedroom should contain nothing around you that can distract you. No laptops, TV's, sound systems, nothing that could emit a blue light or could distract you. And most importantly do not bring anything work related into your bedroom or anything that can trigger anxiety. Never under any circumstance work in bed or in your bedroom! You need to make sure that your mind does not associate your bedroom with stress.

Get out of bed

This sounds very counter productive but one thing you need to be doing is associating bed with sleep and not with being awake. If you are constantly staying awake in your bed your body and mind will start to associate your bed with being awake. Your mind is a strange yet wonderful design and works a lot on association. When you go to the gym your mind and body associate it with working out and the need for adrenaline and endurance. You need to walk away from the comfort of your bed and only return there when you are 100% ready to sleep. Train your mind and body to associate bed with sleep. 

Have a bed time based on your body

One way to combat being overly anxious to sleep is to not have set a bed time, but have a bed time ritual. 1-2 hours before bed do not consume stimulants like coffee or green tea. Do not work, get into a stressful situation like paying bills or rent. Read a book, play some calming music something with a slow tempo, meditate, take a bath. Get your body and mind relaxed. Do not go to bed because its 9.30pm go to bed when you get tired which could mean getting to bed at 11pm. Be prepared to go to bed later so that you don't stay awake and anxious. Many people make the mistake of going to bed because it is a certain hour, not because they are actually tired. Concentrate on your bed time ritual and not your bed time per se.

The herbs can help 

Western Medicine is not the only way to go. Different cultures view different disorders in many lights and from many angles. Their treatment plan is also vastly different. Take for example Chinese medicine. If you are comfortable with trying other avenues you can see a Chinese Medicine specialist to help prescribe you herbal and more natural approaches to manage anxiety before bed and anxiety in general. Chinese herb formulations that help with anxiety are: Liquorice Root and Ginseng.   

If it is legal in your state, you can try CBD oil. Cannabidiol oil is a non-psychoactive chemical compound found in cannabis. This will not get you "stoned" or "high" as it contains no THC. In fact, research by Murillo-Rodríguez and colleagues published back in April this year found CBD to contain sleep inducing properties without the psychoactive component. While research conducted by Bergamaschi and colleagues published in Neuropsychopharmacology, produced evidence that CBD can lower anxiety. 

You are not alone when faced with anxiety related sleeping disorders. Not enough sleep can be detrimental to not only your mental health but also to your general health and can effect your life. 

Please always speak to a health professional about any sleep or anxiety disorders you experience. Don't be afraid, you are not alone. 

Next up, How to Overcome Social Anxiety.