Apr 10, 2024 | Mental Health

Tips to Help with Nighttime Anxiety

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Do you find yourself having a hard time falling asleep at night or struggle falling back to sleep because your mind won’t stop racing? Often, our brains seem to work the hardest during the hours we should be enjoying much needed rest. Unfortunately, nighttime anxiety is something many people face, and it can be exhausting for your mind and your body. So, today, we want to talk more about what nighttime anxiety is and offer some tips to help. 

What is nighttime anxiety? 

Anxiety can get worse at night because people are less distracted and find themselves focusing more on their worries and stressors.

There are several symptoms that accompany nighttime anxiety. Some of these can include the following: 

  • Worry or fear about the future 
  • Restlessness 
  • Headache, stomachache 
  • Tense muscles 
  • Increased heart rate or sweating 
  • Shortness of breath or chest discomfort 
  • Dizziness 
  • Trembling or chills 
  • Nightmares, or catastrophizing 

Some people might also experience nocturnal panic attacks, which happen while you’re sleeping and wake you up from your rest. These can impact your sleep quality. Set yourself up for successful sleep by making some small adjustments to your daily routine: 

  • Limit caffeine intake 
  • Go to bed at the same time each night 
  • Limit screentime before bed 
  • Use your bed mainly for sleep and avoid watching tv, reading, or using your phone in bed 
  • Participate in active movement during the day 
  • Create a bedtime routine that helps stimulate sleep 

Tips for when you can’t sleep 

What do you do when you find yourself unable to fall asleep, even after doing everything to set yourself up for a good night’s rest? Here are a few suggestions that we find helpful: 

Get out of bed 

While we know it is not ideal to leave the warmth of your cozy bed in the middle of the night, it might help. Rather than lying in bed and staring at the ceiling, toss those covers off and go to another room. Keep the lights low and find something calming that will help you to relax and distract your mind. You might choose to read, do some gentle stretches, meditate, or simply watch out the window. Stepping outside to feel the cool air and taking in the open space can be quite calming. Once you start to feel tired, head back to bed and hopefully you will doze off more easily. 

Journal 

Keep a journal by your bedside for those times your mind doesn’t want to shut off. Rather than allowing yourself to spiral further into your thoughts, grab a pen and start writing down what you are thinking and feeling. Sometimes the simple act of jotting it all down on paper will help clear and calm your mind enough to be able to go to sleep. In the morning, you can reflect on what you wrote, which might help you deal with certain stressors during the day. 

Listen to music 

There are many benefits to the body and mind that listening to music can offer. Choose a relaxing list of songs that you can play to help distract your thoughts. Focusing on the beat, lyrics, and sounds of the music can be cathartic and be just what you need to help you drift back to dreamland.  

Use an app 

There are some great apps available to help with sleep. Calm offers calming voices of celebrities as well as soothing music to help you decompress. Calm and Headspace both provide users with guided meditations, breathing techniques and calming exercises to help encourage relaxation and relieve stress. One of our favourite sleep casts with Headspace is Starlight Diner. Listening to it, with something like this comfy headband/eye mask (with speakers embedded) is a lovely way to drift off to sleep. If you are looking for more apps to help with mental health, you can find some recommendations in this blog post

Everyone deserves to enjoy a good night’s sleep, and we hope these tips help. However, if you find that you are regularly struggling with nighttime anxiety, and can’t find relief, please reach out to a medical professional for further support and resources

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