After a year of quarantine, I’m pretty used to feeling stressed out. Being bored and anxious is the new normal. It’s exhausting. But I want to be able to get 8 hours sleep, even if I’m deep into a worry cycle.
Insomnia sucks. And it sucks worse when your insomnia gives you more hours to fret. But I refuse to be a worried, sleep deprived mess.
I really appreciate getting 8 hours sleep. Being well rested affects my wellbeing. So here’s how I do it, even when I’m anxious.
I don’t drink caffeine past noon
It’s not just that caffeine keeps me awake. When I’m stressed, I’m already secreting too much cortisol and other hormones. Drinking caffeine just makes me secrete more.
Cortisol is part of the fight/flight response. It gives me a burst of energy when my life is at risk. So it’s not helpful when I want to relax and get some shut-eye.
I appreciate that my adrenal system is already taxed. And so I stay away from things that make it worse. Even though caffeine really does make me feel temporarily better, it can contribute to my stress hormones going crazy late at night.
I give myself enough time for 8 hours sleep
The reality is that I’ll probably feel OK in the morning if I get only 6 hours of sleep. But I’ll definitely feel totally awful if I just get 4. When I only have a short time block to sleep, I feel pressure to make every minute count.
So I block a full 8 hours of sleep. And if I only get 6, I know I’ll be fine. That way if I toss or turn for an hour, I’m not instantly panicking about my groggy morning.
My calm attitude makes it easier to eventually sleep. Even when I’m already anxious.
I turn off all stimulation at least an hour before bed
Part of the reason it’s hard for me to sleep when stressed are all those stress hormones. When I’m anxious, my whole nervous system is in overdrive. And turning that off is essential to getting 8 hours sleep.
So I try to turn down all forms of stimulation to help my body quiet and relax. I turn off the lights, the TV, and all electronics. I make my surroundings calm in the hopes that will help make my brain calm.
Of course, there’s always the chance that all the quiet time to think will lead to more worry. So I also play some meditation music or read something calming to distract my body and mind from falling into a pit of anxiety.
I do some light stretches
I can hold a lot of tension in my body. Most of it sits in my neck and my shoulders. Oh, and don’t forget about my lower back.
I’ve realized that I sleep much better on days after going to the chiropractor. So while I don’t notice body tension while sleeping, it must influence my quality of sleep. And that’s why I do some light stretching before bed.
It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate. Sometimes I do something as simple as touch my toes, or do a couple of stretches on my back. And that helps me further relax for sleep.
I look at natural supplements
When I’m anxious, every little bit of help I can get staying calm helps. Natural supplements aren’t like drugs that knock you out. But they can quiet and calm you. And that, along with other sleep promoting activities, can lead to getting 8 hours sleep.
I personally like the supplement Cortisol Manager by Integrative Therapeutics. It has a blend of natural herbal stress relieving herbs like ashwagandha and L-Theanine that help decrease cortisol in the body. It’s just enough for me to fall asleep a little easier and stay asleep
I choose a mantra or phrase
When I’m quiet in bed, that’s the perfect time for my brain to start spinning out of control. Being prepared with a calming mantra or phrase is so important. I use something simple like, “I will relax.”
I say this over and over to myself. And here’s why –
First, it convinces my stressed brain to calm down. Second, it distracts me from my obsessive worry. I can’t balance my mantra with obsessing about my worries. So I repeat my mantra to block out those other upsetting thoughts.
Sleep is so important. Especially when you’re anxious. So give yourself the best shot to get those 8 hours. With a little attention, you can see your worried self get an amazing night’s rest!