Several years ago, when I was having another high-anxiety week, I developed a new fear. Of course, I’ve already had a lot of worries thanks to my anxiety in the first place. But this time, it was something new – I started to become afraid to sleep.
The reason for this was that highly uncomfortable feeling when you just can’t seem to fall asleep (because you’re too anxious) and all those anxious thoughts are taking over your head. I remember myself lying in my bed for hours, counting sheep and wondering how the heck am I going to look and feel tomorrow after another sleepless night. When I would finally go near that “fall asleep line”, I would usually wake up again because this exact moment would induce a mini panic attack.
And speaking of panic attacks – these would wake me up after measly 2 or 3 hours of sleep and keep me panicking for another 2-3 hours. As you can see, I was living the life of my dreams. Eventually, I was afraid of every night to come.
If you suffer from anxiety too, you probably experience at least a little of the discomfort I felt – or maybe even more! Some anxious people I know are unable to sleep at all when their anxiety pops. In these moments, they turn to medication. Back then, I wasn’t a fan of sleep medication so I was looking for things that could help me without them.
Today, I’m delighted to say that I no longer look for an answer on how to sleep with anxiety because I found a 3-step system that helps me fall asleep quickly (and sleep through the whole night!) even when my anxiety relapses (it still does sometimes).
I can’t wait to share them with you and hope that they will help you as much as they helped me. You will learn about bedroom technologies, how to stop anxiety before bed, how to fall asleep with anxiety, and how to stay asleep – thanks to just 3 soothing things that help you to calm down significantly.
How To Sleep With Anxiety
1. Get a Weighted Blanket ASAP
I want to start with a step that made the most significant difference, and that is a weighted blanket.
“What’s that, Amber?”
A weighted blanket is a heavy blanket and it’s extremely helpful for everyone who struggles with sleep and especially for those who have insomnia or anxiety. It happens because sleeping under a heavy blanket calms down the nervous system and (this one is my personal opinion) it might be because it resembles the feeling of being hugged. There’s also been a study that proved 63% percent of people felt a decrease in their anxiety when using a weighted blanket.
Of course, at that time, I didn’t know any of these things. But I remembered that I’d read somewhere about children sleeping so much better under a weighted blanket and how it decreased their anxiety.
Being so helpless and ready to try anything to calm my pre-sleep anxiety, I decided to try this! So at first, I didn’t have a weighted blanket, but I thought I could just try sleeping under 2-3 blankets to see if it gives me any effect. To my biggest surprise, I slept like a baby that night, and I mean THE WHOLE NIGHT!
I didn’t wake up even once! I finally could rest properly.
So I knew I found something incredible but sleeping under 2 or 3 blankets had some downsides:
- It was extremely hot;
- It was quite uncomfortable because all those blankets would get messy;
But I loved the results, so I didn’t wait for long and ordered a real weighted blanket which was heavy, but never hot or uncomfortable to use. You can find some pretty great deals on weighted blankets on Amazon:
2. Create a Calming Bedroom Environment
Question: How to sleep with anxiety in a messy room?
Answer: It’s going to be a hard night for you because it’s impossible.
Trying to fall asleep in a messy, smelly, and stimulating room is hard even without anxiety. On the other hand, it’s much easier to calm down and fall asleep when your room is prepared for that.
Before going to bed, do a few quick, soothing things:
- Tidy up a little, so you’re not trying to rest in a messy room.
- Let in some cool, fresh air.
- Enhance the air with calming essential oils (like lavender).
- Put away all your devices at least an hour to sleep.
- You can also change your bed sheets for some extra comfort.
- Read a calming book (The Feeling Good by doctor D. Burns is perfect for such moments).
- Turn on a soothing, gentle melody or nature sounds (I recommend getting an app on your phone and setting a timer).
- You can also utilize certain sleep inducing colors in your room to help with sleep anxiety.
These things will create a calming atmosphere and also prepare you for the next step…
3. Meditate Before Sleep
Mindfulness and meditation can help you to calm down your anxious thoughts and let (at least some of them) go.
I love simple breathing meditations and also – guided meditations:
- Breathing meditation is effortless to do and requires you just to close your eyes and breathe slowly in and out. You don’t have to think about anything – try to concentrate on your breathing and feel the air moving in and out of your body. I usually do this meditation while listening to rain sounds on my phone.
- Guided meditation is exceptionally useful. I usually look for guided meditations on Youtube (I love Jason Stephenson meditations!) and in these, a calm voice will tell you what to imagine, how to breathe, what to visualize… It’s incredibly soothing to go through imaginary stories, your secret sanctuaries where you’re 100% safe and all of this helps you fall asleep much easier.
You can meditate in your bed, or you can create a deeply relaxing meditation room.
If meditation is not an option for you (some people just don’t like it and it’s perfectly fine), another way to relax before sleep is journaling. While I wouldn’t recommend doing a thought-correction session right before sleep, doing a few positivity or gratitude exercises can work wonders!
What is the best sleeping position for anxiety?
Yes, there’s one more thing that can also affect how you sleep with anxiety, and that is your sleeping position. Turns out, the best sleeping position for anxiety is on your back.
While you may feel tempted to curl up on your side, this can make your muscles tense. Instead, lay down on your back and do some gentle breathing with your belly. Belly breaths (you know, the ones where your belly rises up and down, instead of your chest) are very soothing. Every slow breath-in relaxes a very important Vagus nerve, which is a big part of our nervous system. In turn, your anxiety gently subsides.
Try doing this breathing exercise for as long as you can before you fall asleep, as it will help your sleep to be deeper.
How To Sleep With Anxiety: Final Thoughts
Sleeping comfortably when you’re anxious is hard, but it’s so much easier when you have the right equipment and a self-soothing mindset. Always remember that anxiety is not a permanent thing. It tends to come and go in waves. Whenever a wave comes, try not to fight it. Instead, float on it until it passes. Remind yourself that every anxiety attack ends sooner or later. You have survived 100% of them now.
I hope these tips will help you get a good night’s sleep even when you’re not anxious. Stay hopeful!
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