Sleep disruption or insomnia are a common feature among mental health problems.
What to do if you feel anxious at night? In this article, you will learn the best tips to improve sleep problems and manage anxiety.
Bedtime routines are a set of activities performed in the same order, every night. If you establish a habit it will help your brain recognize when it is time to go to sleep.
Why Do We Need a Bedtime Routine?
Healthy habits promote good sleep. Furthermore, consistency in our habits may reduce stress and anxiety, therefore you relax into sleep. These are some causes for disruption in your sleep:
- A lifestyle or work shifts with erratic hours (overnight, late-night hours),
- Some medications,
- Health conditions,
- Travel, if the time zone is different than yours.
What is the Circadian Rhythm?
Before we pass on to the best tips for a night routine to combat anxiety, we will define an important component of our sleep cycle: the circadian rhythm.
Basically the circadian rhythm is a 24-hour cycle that forms your body’s internal clock. The sleep-wake rhythm is the most important one. When your body clock functions optimally, your sleep is consistent and restorative. When it doesn’t, it can create various sleep disorders, like insomnia.
The circadian rhythm is associated with your physical and mental health. But, how does it work? During the day, light causes your “master clock” to generate alertness; during the night, you produce melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleep.
In babies the circadian rhythm takes time, a few months generally, to develop (that is why their dream is erratic); in teenagers there is a delay (that is why they tend to oversleep until noon!); in adults, there is a shift: as long as we practice healthy habits, with stable schedules, we get sleepy around midnight; finally, as we age our circadian rhythm causes us to wake up at earlier hours.
The following tips may help you unwind and reduce anxiety at night. But first, we want you to know what you have to avoid during your night routine to combat anxiety and get your circadian rhythm back on track.
- Avoid alcohol, caffeine and nicotine.
- Do not change your schedule (adhere as best as you can to a routine each day).
- Do not be sedentary (get plenty of exercise especially in the afternoon, not later).
- Do not take long naps, or skip them altogether.
The Best Tips for you Night Routine
Now we will present some recommendations to help you set the best routine for bedtime. But first, remember to be consistent and patient with yourself; start small. Your goal is to implement these ideas as best as you can and improve them gradually. The key to success is patience and perseverance!
Write Down everything that Stresses you Out
Our first tip is to create a to-do list of tomorrow’s tasks. Organize your next day, so you do not worry in bed. If you have a good idea, write it down before bed!
Furthermore, we recommend you try journaling. It is good for mental health, and reduces stress. Address thoughts and emotions you experienced. Do it with a relaxing tea next to you and let your mind flow with whatever you feel like writing. It only takes 5 minutes and it works wonders!
Tea, Tea, Tea…
Yes, as we mentioned above, drinking a warm cup of tea or whatever beverage you love gets you in the mood for bedtime. Of course, the most recommended options are chamomile tea, or warm milk.
Another great alternative is turmeric, which also helps with depression and inflammation.
Listen to music
Take five minutes to make a bedtime playtime. Do this before nighttime and think about songs to start letting go of mental attachments. Research suggests that listening to music encourages sleep and improves sleep quality.
There are some genres that are more helpful than others, for example classical music, R&B, bossa nova, jazz. You can also get a noise machine, which “plays” the sound of heavy rain for example.
Besides you can try color noises, that are engineered soundwaves with frequencies emitted interact with the brain. You can try with a color noise app or search a YouTube channel (of course remember to find these some hours before, since screens are not recommended).
Try lowering lights and temperature at home.
Studies suggest that the best temperature for sleep is 65 degrees, so lower your home thermostat.
In addition to this, try turning off or lowering bright lights. This helps your sleep process, setting your circadian rhythm running optimally.
Try a Relaxing Bath
If you have pressed play on your favorite relaxing playlist, and lowered bright lights at home, you can go on and prepare a relaxing bath to lower your body temperature. Wash off the day with a nice bath or shower to encourage healthy sleep.
Remember: No Electronic Devices Before Bed
We cannot stress enough how important it is to prevent exposure to blue lights before bed. This light, that comes from TVs, smartphones or laptops, lowers your melatonin (a hormone produced by our brain in response to darkness) levels. So, turn off all of these at least 40 minutes before going to bed, and go analog!
Make a Ritual of your Night Routine
Whether you like to do a night skin care routine, or diffuse essential oils, you can set the perfect cozy environment to relax and decrease anxiety.
Performing your skincare routine may create a sense of peace and connects you to the physical sensations that relax, not only your face but your whole body.
When it comes to aromatherapy, lavender and eucalyptus oils are the ultimate combo to wind-down.
We hope these tips help you combat anxiety at night. Remember to visit a doctor if you are suffering from sleep disruptions regularly.
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