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Healthy Sleep Habits for the Anxiety-Prone Sleeper

By November 1, 2014Blogs

Persistent stress and anxiety can take a serious toll on your ability to get a good night’s sleep. You might find it difficult to fall or stay asleep or perhaps you simply don’t feel rested when you wake up in the morning. A survey by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) reports that most adults with anxiety-related sleep problems say that their sleep disturbance worsens their anxiety. So it’s easy to get stuck in a vicious cycle of feeling stressed → not sleeping well → worrying about not sleeping well → feeling more stressed. If you’re an anxiety-prone sleeper, how do you break this cycle? Read on for some new habits you can begin practicing today.

1.  Keep a notebook beside the bed table to write down any stray worries or thoughts. Add anything appropriate to your schedule the following morning.
2.  Cover clocks or remove clocks for the sleeper who continually checks in to see just how late it is and then frets over the lack of quality sleep time for that night.
3.  After 30 minutes of restlessness, get out of bed and participate in a mundane and relatively noiseless activity, such as folding laundry or organizing drawers.
4.  After 30 minutes of intense worry, get out of bed and write worries in a journal until you’ve written them enough times that you are somewhat bored, usually about 20-30 minutes.
5.  If random thoughts interfere with sleep, picture something neutral in your head and try to picture this object in as much detail as possible, such as the chair in your dining room. Or, take an actual object and incorporate the 5 senses. For example: a sheet or a water glass on the bedside table.
6. Count sheep- literally.
7. If you must read before bed, read something that has easy places to start/stop and will not require too much brain power (e.g., cookbooks, cartoons).
8. Practice relaxation techniques such as Progressive Muscle Relaxation or Deep Diaphragmatic Breathing.
9. Create an ending to a nightmare- keep everything that happened up until the point you wake up, and then add on to it a new ending that is more palatable.