How to reduce sleep anxiety is a big question. Sleep anxiety is the fear or worry about going to sleep. Unfortunately, it affects millions of people across the world and can have a massive impact on their lives.
Maybe it’s something that impacts you? It certainly affects me. Restless nights happen more frequently than I would like to admit, and no matter how tired I get, sometimes I can’t seem to find a way to get to sleep. The sleepless nights then have a knock-on effect the next day. I’m more irritable, I can’t think as clearly, and it’s harder to keep my emotions in check. Thankfully, God knows we need sleep, and He is here to help us rest.
There are some significant practical steps we can take to help us reduce sleep anxiety and get the rest we need.
1. Embrace the sunshine
Did you know you have an internal clock? Well, it’s kind of a clock. It’s called the circadian rhythm. It affects your brain, body, and hormones, helping you stay awake and telling your body when it’s time to sleep. Natural sunlight or bright light during the day helps to keep your circadian rhythm healthy. This improves daytime energy, as well as nighttime sleep quality and duration. So, if you’re able, get out for a walk in the sunshine.
2. Turn off the phone
Exposure to light during the day is beneficial, but nighttime light exposure has the opposite effect. Again, this is due to its impact on your circadian rhythm, tricking your brain into thinking it’s still daytime. This reduces hormones like melatonin, which help you relax and get deep sleep.
Unfortunately, your phone emits blue light, which is the worst culprit making it much harder for you to drop off to sleep. Try turning your phone off at least an hour before you’re planning to go to bed.
3. Ditch the coffee
I’m serious, well, almost serious. You should undoubtedly ditch coffee in the late afternoon and evening. When consumed late in the day, caffeine stimulates your nervous system and stops your body from naturally relaxing at night.
As stated in a study done by the Sleep Foundation, consuming caffeine up to 6 hours before bed worsened sleep quality. You can read about the study here. According to Start Sleeping’s data, a moderate dose of caffeine at bedtime, 3 hours prior to bedtime, or 6 hours prior to bedtime each have significant effects on sleep disturbance. Caffeine can stay elevated in your blood for 6–8 hours. Therefore, drinking large amounts of coffee after 3–4 p.m. is not recommended, especially if you’re sensitive to caffeine or have trouble sleeping.
4. Still your mind
If you’re like me, there are a million thoughts that pass through your mind each day. These can be overwhelming. An important bedtime routine to reduce sleep anxiety is to still your mind and focus on God.
I like to meditate on a bible passage and allow the words to calm my mind. Thankfully God has a lot to say about rest and peace. Below are some verses to get you started in reducing your sleep anxiety. For more help on dealing with anxiousness check out this post.
My son, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight, preserve sound judgment and discretion; they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck. Then you will go on your way in safety, and your foot will not stumble. When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.
Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked, for the Lord will be at your side and will keep your foot from being snared.
All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.
I call out to the Lord, and He answers me from His holy mountain.
I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.
I will not fear though tens of thousands assail me on every side.
The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Come and see what the Lord has done..He makes wars cease too the ends of the earth..
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth” Psalm 45:7-11
Do Not Worry
So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Matthew 6: 25-34
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