Does your anxiety keep you awake at night?
Do you lie there in bed, for sometimes hours, unable to fall asleep?
Do you have anxiety-related insomnia?
I’m going to go ahead and guess that if you found your way to this post, you are like me and the tons of other people who do the ol’ “lay in bed for an hour or longer staring at the clock, listening to your nonstop racing anxious mind, while pissed that you can’t fall asleep” routine.
I’m going to give you a list of things you can do to help you fall asleep when you have anxiety-related insomnia. Or, really, just insomnia in general, anxiety-related or not.
Does your night go something like this? …
You notice that you’re waking up each morning feeling unrested. So you decide to set a goal to get to bed by 10 pm every night.
Great! 9:45 pm rolls around. You close your laptop, walk into your room, put on your pajamas, plug in your phone, turn off all lights, and hop into bed.
“Yay! Go me!” you’re thinking. “I made it in bed by 10 pm! Tomorrow is gonna be great because I will actually get enough sleep!”
You lay there. Close your eyes. Open your eyes. Force them closed again. Re-open them and stare at the ceiling fan for who knows how long. You hear a random motorcycle in the far distance outside. “Go to sleep!” you tell yourself. “I’ve got to get up early tomorrow!”
You look at the clock and it’s now 10:30 pm. Ok, still not bad. But, “Ugh I’ve been laying here for 30 minutes already! I need to fall asleep!”
Darn, you realize you forgot to get milk when you went to the store today. You’ll have to pick up some tomorrow during your lunch break. Hmm, what are you going to have for lunch tomorrow? Do you think Sue would like to go with? Maybe you’ll text her tomorrow and see what she’s up to around lunchtime.
“Man, I really need to go to sleep. Ok, ok. Stop thinking and just fall asleep!”
You check the clock… It’s now 11 pm.
You grab your phone, because hell, you clearly aren’t tired enough to fall asleep anyway, and start mindlessly scrolling through Youtube. Before you know it, you’re an hour into the Youtube rabbit hole.
Another glance at the clock. It’s now 12 am. Your alarm is set to go off at 6:30 am!
You put your phone down and close your eyes, attempting this sleep thing all over again. “Go to sleep. Go to sleep. GO TO SLEEP!” you tell yourself.
After another 45 minutes of a racing, nonstop brain.
You eventually fall asleep. The time is now close to 1 am.
Let’s not even talk about how you toss and turn all night long. How you wake up constantly, sometimes for over an hour each time, unable to fall back asleep.
The next morning, as you virtually crawl your zombied self to your coffee maker in the kitchen, you can’t even handle how tired you feel. How are you even going to function today?!
You hope that no one speaks to you until at LEAST 10 am, and even then they better tread lightly. You’re a tired grumpy mess who has a report due today!
Oh, the joys of insomnia, right?!
And it’s even more fun when you’ve got anxiety thrown into the mix!
Why can’t you just lay in bed and go to sleep, dang it!
This used to be me. Every single night. I’ll be honest, some nights it still is.
Just laying there like a dummy, unable to fall asleep. Ugh.
I do have anxiety so I know that has a large part in why I can’t shut my mind off in order to drift to sleep.
But I finally, after 36 years (lol), found a few things that help when my anxiety and insomnia stand in my way of falling asleep. And I’d like to share them with you!
First, though, let’s talk briefly about melatonin. Understanding what it is and how it works can get you on the right track to a smooth transition into sleepy land.
A quick note on Melatonin…
“Melatonin is a hormone in your body that plays a role in sleep. The production and release of melatonin in the brain
The lights in your house can affect your melatonin levels
False lights (non-sunlight) can and will throw off your melatonin levels which are increased at nighttime.
One last thing…. Have a bedtime routine! This is a total game-changer in helping you fall asleep and stay asleep.
Okey dokey. Without further ado…. here are some things you can do when you can’t sleep due to anxiety-related insomnia!
Things To Do When You Can’t Fall Asleep Due To Anxiety & Insomnia
Listen to calm meditation/spa/yoga style music
Turn it on low and just fall into the music. Pay particular attention to a certain sound within the melody. For example, listen for the piano or violin and follow it. Listen to how the sounds of
The trick here is to focus your mind onto something besides what it was stuck feeling anxious about – not being able to fall asleep, anxious thoughts about your day, things you are running through your head that needs to be done tomorrow, etc.
Easier said than done, but try not to consciously force the focus. The mind will slip and start thinking of other things as you’re trying to focus on the music. And that’s ok. Once you realize your mind has wandered, gently bring it back onto a specific part of the music (that violin, for example). But don’t overthink it. Try not to force the repeating thought, “I need to listen and focus on this music.” Otherwise, you’ll fall into the same trap that caused you to not be able to fall asleep in the first place! (Overthinking to the point that your mind can’t relax.)
Count backward from 500
Count slowly, and picture the numbers on the backs of your eyelids as you’re saying them. For example, saying 387 in your head would be like: three hundred (picture the 3
Again, the trick here is to get your mind to focus on something else, particularly something tedious, which can slow it down enough to be able to drift off to sleep.
Write in your journal
You guys just gotta get on this journal writing bandwagon! I’m telling ya, it helps so much with my anxiety. I don’t know what it is, but writing it all out is almost like lifting a weight off my shoulders.
And here’s something cool to think about – there’s no right or wrong way to journal write! Your journal is yours and you can write whatever you want in it. Some journaling ideas can be:
- Things that are currently bothering you
- A list of things you need to do tomorrow
- A list of things you accomplished today
- Doodle or create a drawing
- Write out the lyrics of a song that’s stuck in your head
The things you can write down in your journal are endless!
If you need a 4-page printable journal prompt sheet, I made one just for you below! ↓↓
Don’t forget to keep your lights dim while you’re writing. Just barely enough light so you can see what you are writing, but dark enough to keep your brain in “sleepy” mode.
I talk a little more about how journaling helps anxiety in this post: 10+ Natural Remedies For Anxiety +6 Ways To Stop An Anxiety/Panic Attack
Dive into the world of Essential Oils!
I very recently just got into essential oils and am having fun learning all about how to use them and their benefits! There is a learning curve to using essential oils so be sure to educate yourself before attempting to use them.
Click “Learn How” below to see all the TONS of resources I got from credible experts in natural remedies that have given me the skills and confidence to use herbs & essential oils for staying healthy, supporting the body in illness, non-toxic cleaning, beauty & relaxation, etc. ↓↓
I chose Rocky Mountain Essential Oils to use because:
- I like that they are NOT a multi-level-marketing (MLM) company.
- They have FREE shipping with no minimum order amount.
- They have FREE returns! For a newbie like me who doesn’t know which smells I like and don’t like, it doesn’t get any better than that!
If you’re new to essential oils like I am, do what I did and start out with diffusing. I have started diffusing the Rocky Mountain Oil lavender essential oil as part of my bedtime routine because lavender is known for its calming abilities (perfect for anxiety-sufferers!) and can even encourage restful sleep.
I also purchased this small Lavender Greece roll-on. The lavender roll-on is already diluted with a carrier oil so it’s able to be applied directly to the skin – no diffusing needed! I just roll it on my neck and wrists and enjoy the calming aroma of lavender as I sleep. (It’s great for on the go, too!)
And NO I don’t mean your Kindle, or whatever other e-readers you use (that includes books on your phone!).
I mean read a physical book.
This one can sometimes be tricky because if you grab a book that is a total page-turner that you MUST find out what happens in the next chapter (!), then you could end up reading until 3 AM because you can’t put that amazing book down! So try and have a good “bedtime” book that is one you are interested in, but maybe it isn’t as “sitting on the edge of your seat” as your favorite book.
Anyway, back to the Kindle and e-reader thing I mentioned above – bottom line, it’s a screen. This leads me to my next tip…
! Resist the screens!
Don’t turn on the tv or fiddle with your phone (the worst). Remember that whole melatonin thing I talked about earlier? You know, the fact that our body naturally increases its melatonin level during nighttime in order to make us tired? Well, if you’re literally staring at a light (screens) then what do you think is happening to your melatonin?!
I’ll tell you exactly what happens – Your body sends a signal to your brain to stop making melatonin. NOT something you want when you are just about to lay down to get some zzz’s.
And definitely NOT something you want when you are lying there with insomnia.
If you are one who insists you “need” the tv on to fall asleep, chances are it’s not the tv screen that is helping you to sleep. It’s more likely the noise of the tv.
Tell Alexa to set an alarm 30 minutes before your bedtime. In those 30 minutes before you lay your head, eliminate ALL screens. That includes TV, phones, tablets, laptops…you get the idea. Instead, grab a book or your journal and have some quiet time to unwind your mind so that by the time you do make it to that pillow, it will be much easier to fall asleep.
Get up and do something
Ironically, laying in your bed thinking about how much you need to go to sleep will keep you awake thinking about needing to go to sleep!
So what’s the use in laying there for hours. You may as well get up and do something else.
Ideally, something that will most likely make you tired, such as reading a book.
Whatever you decide to do, don’t forget to keep your lights dim so you don’t wake yourself up more than you already are!
What has helped you fall asleep when you have insomnia? Comment below!
You May Also Like:
If you liked this post, please share it (especially on Pinterest!) because it helps us grow! :)