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If you’ve been experiencing anxiety or muscle tension before going to bed, this post will provide you with 15 helpful tips to help you sleep better at night.
When I suffered from chronic lower back pain, anxiety would slowly creep in as I’m lying in bed hoping for my body to relax.
Every time I rolled over, the pain would shoot down my leg. The whole situation made me scared to even go to bed.
Sleep anxiety affects many people. Anxious intrusive thoughts affect the body and the mind.
Sleep And The Nervous System
Sleep allows the sympathetic nervous system to slow down which activates the parasympathetic nervous system.
The sympathetic nervous system controls and directs the body’s response to stress.
The parasympathetic nervous system is the branch of the nervous system responsible for healing, restoration, recovery, and regeneration.
If the sympathetic nervous system is active throughout the night, our stress level stays up.
This prevents the body from fully recovering.
Chronic stress can lead to digestive issues, muscle cramps, and many other symptoms.
15 Tips To Sleep Without Anxiety Or Pain
Below are 10 tools and strategies that’ll show you how to fall asleep without anxiety.
I’ve been implementing all these recently to help me reduce anxiety at night as well as get relief from any tension or muscle pain.
Coffee is a strong nervous system stimulant (1).
I recently made the decision to quit coffee which made a huge difference in my stress and anxiety level. (I know, I know. It was a decision I never thought I’d have to make but I’ll explain why)
And you know… It was certainly not an easy decision at first. It’s one of those things that I never thought I could do, to be honest.
I’ve always been a coffee person, especially in the past few years.
I loved making coffee in the morning and throughout the day. The smell of coffee was very comforting.
It was just one of those things that I never really thought affected my sleep.
I started experiencing anxiety and panic attacks about a month ago.
And it was because of the level of stress I was experiencing on a day-to-day basis without even being aware of it.
When I went through my first panic attack, I thought I was gonna die.
It was kind of a wake-up call to re-assess everything, and figure out what is stimulating my nervous system so much that’s throwing my system out of balance.
What am I doing that could be exacerbating my anxiety?
So I decided to quit caffeine.
Caffeine can definitely contribute to anxiety especially if you suffer from anxiety attacks.
I wanted to give my nervous system a break so quitting coffee was a no brainer.
While I could have opted for decaf coffee, I realized that after just sticking to my tea latte or raw cacao… I wasn’t really missing coffee anymore. In fact, I wasn’t missing its acidity or taste.
One week turned into two weeks, and then three weeks.
It’s been a month now and I’m barely drinking any caffeine.
I’ve been enjoying delicious tea lattes. I use herbal lattes and also love making ceremonial cacao.
Ceremonial cacao is extremely low in caffeine.
How Quitting Coffee Affected My Anxiety And Sleep:
One thing I notice about quitting coffee is that my energy stays consistent throughout the day.
I stopped experiencing afternoon crashes or energy slumps.
I stopped depending on caffeine or coffee for energy.
If I wake up feeling tired, I just let my body slowly get more energy through healthy food, some breathing meditation, or even going outside to get some morning sun.
I also noticed that I’d start to fall asleep around 9 pm and that was consistent too.
My sleep schedule became predictable.
Recap of the benefits quitting coffee:
- It fixed my sleep schedule.
- I stopped experiencing energy slumps.
- I fall asleep faster and earlier.
- I wake up feeling rested.
- My stress and anxiety level went down.
Working Out Earlier In The Day
The second thing I started doing to reduce my anxiety attacks which also helped improve my sleep is to schedule my workouts earlier in the day.
I used to go to the gym very late, at around 6:30 pm. My workouts would last about an hour and a half.
Then, I leave around 8-9 pm, get home, shower, make dinner, etc. I end up going to bed later than 11 pm.
When you’re working out that late, the nervous system doesn’t have enough time to slow down. Working out is a form of healthy stress but it’s still stressful to the body.
I’d always sleep very late when I workout late. And I would wake up feeling really tired and sore from my workout.
I’ve been scheduling my workouts earlier in the day now. I usually workout about two to three hours after I get up. Around 10:30 – 11 am.
This helps me have a better sleep schedule as I eat dinner earlier letting myself have some quiet time to relax before going to bed.
Blue Light Filter App
This is a fantastic app that reduces the harsh blue light from getting emitted from your phone.
You can set it up to activate automatically around a certain time. I didn’t realize how harsh this light is until I activated the app.
Blue light stimulates the nervous system and suppresses the production of melatonin.
Melatonin is a hormone that affects circadian rhythms (2).
While it’s recommended to just stay away from harsh lights emitted from electronics before bed, sometimes we have to look at our phones for some reason.
Having this app helps you do that without being subjected to the harsh blue light coming out of your phone.
Weighted Blanket For Anxiety Attacks
I recently invested in a weighted blanket after reading about its benefits in reducing stress, anxiety, and helping people with anxiety attacks or muscle pain sleep better.
It was the first time hearing about it. And I wanted to give it a try.
And it’s definitely been my new favorite tool.
I’ve been sleeping with the blanket every night now. It makes you feel hugged, supported, warm, and comfortable.
Make sure to get the right blanket size and weight. It’ll depend on your body weight and it’s going to vary from person to person.
The weighted blanket helps your body feel heavier and more relaxed. The goal of the weighted blanket is to help you stay asleep.
I’ve certainly been sleeping through the night. I used to wake up around 2 or 3 am with random anxious thoughts and struggled sometimes to fall back asleep.
I’ve been using the blanket for about 10 days now, and that stopped happening.
I’ve been taking magnesium for years due to my chronic pain history with lower back pain and piriformis syndrome.
I started experiencing many side effects from taking muscle relaxants.
I woke up feeling dizzy and nauseous.
I started searching for a sustainable and better solution that I could rely on.
And that’s when I discovered the muscle benefits of magnesium and how it can help relax the body naturally (3).
If you’re experiencing muscle spasms, I highly recommend that you take magnesium.
Health Disclaimer: If you were diagnosed with any underlying health issues, or never took magnesium, or if you’re taking medication, make sure to consult with your doctor before starting a new supplement.
Reading Paper Books
I love my Kindle device. It contains so many books I can access anywhere without carrying heavy books.
But again, as part of not using electronics before bed, this had to change.
I also realized that whenever I read a paper book, I fall asleep faster before I get to finish one page.
I still use my Kindle device, but I use it earlier in the day. Paper books tired up my eyes and help me relax and fall asleep.
Remove Any Light Sources
Before you go to bed, make sure to turn off any sources of light. This includes electronics or anything plugged in that’s emitting light.
Your bedroom should be as dark as possible.
While this not always achievable, just do your best to remove any sources of lights.
Even though your eyes are closed, lights emitted from plugged-in devices increase the activity of the nervous system.
And you don’t want anything there to disrupt your sleep.
Supportive Back Support
Supporting your spine will help reduce muscular tension. The weighted blanket is a great tool to help you feel more relaxed.
You can also use a lumbar support pillow.
Certain positions will put more pressure on your joints and lower back leading to muscular spasms at night.
Using pillows, blankets, or even a bed lumbar support can help ease up the pressure while sleeping.
I want to mention that engaging in core strengthening and activation exercises will also help you experience less lower back tension overall.
Your core supports your spine and doing a few core strengthening exercises will spare your spine during sleep.
Guided Body Meditation
If you’re having trouble falling asleep, I highly recommend listening to a guided relaxation meditation before bed.
Here’s a free meditation you can listen to.
It’s very relaxing and soothing.
Deep diaphragmatic breathing through meditation will activate the parasympathetic nervous system and relax your mind from anxious thoughts.
I’ve been practicing diaphragmatic breathing everyday.
In this core strengthening routine, you can see me practice diaphragmatic breathing lying down before I began my core exercises.
If you have a lot of stressful thoughts running through your head and you can’t relax, meditation is a great tool to help you with that.
Worry Time And Journaling
The last thing that truly helped me fall asleep without anxiety and stress disturbing my sleep is to have daily “worry time” to journal my thoughts and worries.
Worry time is helpful if anxious thoughts start to creep in as soon as you get in bed.
Instead of spending the whole day or night worrying or stressing…
… Worry time allows you to have a dedicated time to just sit, think about what’s making you feel anxious or worried, and journal your thoughts and feelings freely.
You have that time to worry about those things and think about what’s bothering you.
This is a very healthy practice in and of itself. Not expressing your emotions or feelings can cause a lot of anxiety affecting your sleep and health overall.
As you can see, there are many things you can start applying today to sleep better and reduce anxiety.
If you found this post helpful, share it with your friends and family. I’m sure we can all benefit for a better night sleep!
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