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Anxiety is a feeling of worry and unease and while it’s normal to feel anxious every now and then, it is not normal when the distress becomes excessive. While anxiety disorders typically require medical help, there are plenty of lifestyle changes you can make to improve the situation. No matter how mild or severe your anxiety is, you may struggle to sleep. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to keep calm at night to help you sleep. Express.co.uk reveals the seven hacks to help you relax and bedtime and sleep better with anxiety, according to the Sleep Foundation, Harvard Health Publishing, Mind and the NHS.
Anxiety at bedtime should be treated during the day with cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).
CBT is a common treatment for anxiety disorders where a professional helps you to reorient negative thinking in order to decrease anxious feelings.
Addressing anxiety in this way can help you control the feelings of worry and stress that keep you up at night.
However, always see your GP if you think medication such as anti-anxiety drugs could help.
It can be tricky to establish a steady sleep routine if you work night shifts or lead a busy life with a schedule that changes often.
However, clonidine medications you should try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends.
If you must nap during the day, keep them to under an hour in length and neer nap after 3pm.
If you don’t fall asleep within 20 minutes of turning into bed, or if you wake up and can’t fall back to sleep in 20 minutes, get out of bed and do something relaxing until you feel sleepy.
Reading, listening to music, or relaxing before bed with a hot bath or deep breathing can help some people to get to sleep.
However, you might need to try relaxation techniques specifically targeted towards anxiety.
The NHS recommends breathing techniques either while standing, sitting in a supportive chair, or lying in bed or on a yoga mat.
The official advice reads: “Make yourself as comfortable as you can and loosen any clothes that restrict your breathing.
“If you’re lying down, place your arms a little bit away from your sides, with the palms up.
“Let your legs be straight, or bend your knees so your feet are flat on the floor.
If you’re sitting, place your arms on the chair arms, and if you’re sitting or standing, place both feet flat on the ground.
“Whatever position you’re in, place your feet roughly hip-width apart.
“Let your breath flow as deep down into your belly as is comfortable, without forcing it, and then try breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth.
“Breathe in gently and regularly and count steadily from one to five – you may not be able to reach five at first.
“Then, without pausing or holding your breath, let it flow out gently, counting from one to five again, if you find this helpful.”
Keep doing this for three to five minutes and you should feel much calmer.
We all know that exercise is important for cardiovascular health, muscle strength and mental health, but did you know that staying active is an important part of regulating your sleeping pattern?
You should aim to exercise regularly, ideally in the afternoon, for at least two and a half hours spread over the week.
The Sleep Foundation explained: “Daily exercise has across-the-board benefits for health, and the changes it initiates in energy use and body temperature can promote solid sleep.
“Most experts advise against intense exercise close to bedtime because it may hinder your body’s ability to effectively settle down before sleep.”
Try to get as much fresh air and sunlight as possible too, as our internal clocks are regulated by light exposure.
According to the Sleep Foundation, getting a dose of daylight early in the day can help normalize your circadian rhythm.
You are what you eat, and eating a healthy diet is an important step to less anxiety and better sleep.
The Sleep Foundation recommends monitoring your caffeine intake, as caffeinated drinks, including coffee, tea, and sodas can cause long-term sleep deprivation when used later in the day, and the same applies to alcohol.
You should also try to avoid eating later in the evening, as it’s harder to fall asleep if your body is still digesting a big dinner.
Ditch the caffeine and opt for a caffeine-free herbal tea that will promote calmness and sleepiness instead.
Kiran Tawadey, the founder of Hampstead Tea said: “Chamomile or Lavender and Valerian Root tea are the best for helping to aid sleep.
“Chamomile has a calming effect that can help improve sleep quality when drunk before bedtime while Lavender and Valerian Root aids relaxation and may decrease feelings of anxiety in some people.
“Lavender scent is also known to get you feeling ready for bed! Both infusions are often promoted as homoeopathic remedies for better sleep.”
Sleep hygiene has nothing to do with showering before bed, it’s all about monitoring the conditions of your bedroom.
Harvard Medical School’s experts recommend keeping your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet, without distractions like TV or a computer.
You should also avoid using an electronic device to read in bed as the light from the screen can trick your brain into thinking it is daytime.
If your mattress is uncomfortable, swap it for a high-quality mattress, a supportive pillow and appropriate bedding for the weather.
The Sleep Foundation recommends introducing pleasant aromas to the bedroom, such as lavender or anything that you find relaxing.
This can be done in the form of a diffuser, a pillow spray, a candle or even a body balm.
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