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Last Updated on January 11, 2021

How to Get Rid of Sleep Anxiety and Insomnia

How to Get Rid of Sleep Anxiety and Insomnia

Some lay awake at night, thinking, “Will I ever fall asleep?” We tend to stress ourselves over our sleep schedule and put pressure on ourselves to obtain sleep, no matter how difficult or easy it is to get. This may induce sleep anxiety when trying get our nightly Z’s.

Sleep anxiety and insomnia feed off each other, one making the other more powerful. Sleep is critical to our well being, but we don’t always value it or know how to get it. Sometimes, it can even be fleeting. You can toss and turn for a few hours just to wake up well in advance of your alarm clock ringing. It seems like a never ending battle.

Then, there’s sleep anxiety. Just stressing about getting sleep keeps you awake! When you have anxiety while trying to sleep, it can be because you’re ruminating, planning, or reflecting when you should be clearing all of that out.

What Causes Sleep Anxiety and Insomnia?

Silence can be a trigger for thoughts to begin to flood in. Suddenly, thoughts spiral or snowball, and you start to feel anxiety, which leads to further insomnia. All of this leads to impacts on your physical and emotional health, which can lead to difficulty functioning or focusing in general.

Anxiety can be rooted in many mental health disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, PTSD, and more. Insomnia can exist on its own or be worsened by a mental health disorder. A little sleep anxiety or anxiety happens to everyone, but when it starts to take over your life, that’s when you know you have a problem.

Insomnia is an inability to sleep for periods of time. It can look different for everyone. It can be a difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or variations of both. The lack of sleep is the key component of it. There are many forms of insomnia, such as highly distressed to acute or chronic insomnia.

There may be a bidirectional relationship between anxiety and insomnia, one impacting the other and creating more of each other. It can be difficult to know which precedes the other. This causes further upset and sleeplessness, making it seem like a never-ending cycle. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, more than 40 million Americans suffer from chronic, long-term sleep disorders, and an additional 20 million report occasional sleep problems.[1]

Research has also found that insomnia can worsen the symptoms of anxiety disorders or prevent recovery.[2] Mental health disorders such as anxiety and sleep disturbances overlap and increase one another.

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Scientists have also found that “long periods without sleep are associated with cognitive difficulties, and can produce psychological symptoms ranging from mood changes to psychotic experiences such as hallucinations.”[3] For that reason, mental health struggles can often be alleviated by getting a good night’s sleep.

How to Get Rid of Sleep Anxiety and Insomnia

Sleep anxiety can happen to anyone, and it shouldn’t be ignored when it comes around. Once you can face it, you can do something about it.

How can one overcome sleep anxiety and insomnia?

There is no “one fits all” cure for these struggles, but there are some steps that can help.

1. Log It

One easy thing you can do is to keep a notebook and pen next to your bed to write down late-night thoughts when they start to disturb you.[4] When anxiety comes up, use a log to record your thoughts before you go to bed and while you have trouble sleeping so they don’t ruminate and consume you. You can easily review them the next day.

With your thought log, start to look into and practice Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. This will ease your troubled mind by redirecting your thoughts to more positive thinking. Take a negative thought and change it to something more rational and less catastrophic.

Challenging your thoughts can calm you and help decrease anxiety, which may start to spike when falling sleep. You can determine what thoughts are troubling you so that you can start to address them.

A sleep log is also helpful. How often are you experiencing sleep anxiety? Rate the severity and note the duration. With any sleep issues, you will want to note how often you have trouble sleeping, about how many hours per night you are able to sleep, and the quality of sleep, i.e. whether or not you are waking up constantly or just having trouble falling asleep.

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You may also want to get in touch with a licensed therapist or medical professional and share your findings with them. They may have more ideas of what you can try when they have a record of how severe the problem is.

2. Be Present

Practicing mindfulness is another way to find peace with yourself as it requires you to be absolutely present, bringing awareness to what you think or feel in a different way. Mindfulness acknowledges but does not judge feelings. You can feel more secure with mindfulness and learn to be kinder to yourself.

You can practice mindfulness while doing everyday tasks or while meditating. There is no real wrong way to do this. Even if you have a busy mind, that’s ok! The idea is to focus as long as possible on some meditation object (breath, sound, body sensations, etc.) and to come back to it when the mind starts to wander. There’s really nothing more to it than that.[5]

Grounding is also a way to be present and is used to help with negative emotions and experiences. You can do this by bringing your attention to your five senses. Note what you hear, see, smell, touch, and taste. When you bring yourself to your senses, you can get to a place where the brain is functioning well and can effectively process what is coming at it. That means you can get back to what you can handle and process without panic. You are back in the present. You are back with yourself. You are back to bed.

A Sleep Meditation

You can try a specific mindfulness meditation to help you get comfortable before bed. Think of a safe space; it can be anywhere, at anytime, with anyone (or alone, which I recommend).

You are standing or lying down in that safe space. For example, you could think of a beach at night with a bonfire going. You are kept warm by the fire while listening to the ocean. You listen to the sound of the waves rolling onto the beach. You can even name it something. Give your place a name and list as many details as possible.

Do this anytime you want, but do it before you go to sleep to relax your mind. You can change the visualization each time or keep it the same, expanding on the details. This will bring you into a place where you feel secure and out of difficult thoughts and emotions to help you sleep. In that relaxing state, you can separate yourself from negative emotions and release the need to engage with them.

This will help decrease anxiety and increase the likelihood of falling asleep at night.

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3. Create a Consistent Sleep Routine

Go to bed at a decent time and try to get up the same time everyday. This will help you establish a sense of routine that your body can get used to. If you stay up all hours of the night on top of feeling anxiety towards sleep and sleeplessness, you will get yourself into an unhealthy pattern that worsens the situation.

Turn off electronics well in advance of going to bed so your brain is less stimulated. This will serve you in starting to get tired, if that is something you struggle with. If you are someone who looks at a clock constantly at night, turn it away from you if you need to.

If you engage with technology and keep yourself stimulated through screens, you will risk ruining your sleep structure and lose the ability to function or fall asleep properly. Sleep anxiety will worsen if you are constantly checking your phone or computer or watching TV as this naturally stimulates thinking.

Make sure you are eating right, avoiding caffeine before bedtime and getting some exercises during the day to help with any restlessness carried over into the night.

Your habits and sleep hygiene make or break your experience of sleep and sleeplessness.

4. Manage Your Environment

Your comfort also controls how you are sleeping. Keep the room dark and decide between silence or sounds that aid in sleep (such as nature sounds). Find what works for you. Make sure you can turn to your bed as a reprieve from the day, that you are comfortable with your mattress, that you have enough pillows, and that you keep your room cool enough. These things will aid in lessening your anxiety towards sleep when you feel it is a safe, comfortable space.

If you maintain your environment for sleep and make sure you’re comfortable, you will fall asleep much faster. It will aid in your recovery from any anxiety disorder or insomnia when your environment naturally relaxes you.

5. Talk to a Professional

It may not be something you want to admit to yourself, but if you have a sleep disorder or mental health disorder, you may need help. A professional may or may not diagnose you, but either way, some solutions will likely be offered.

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The key is knowing that you’re not alone, and you don’t have to suffer in silence when sleep anxiety comes your way. It doesn’t mean you are weak or doing something wrong. It could be a disorder, and there is no shame in that.

Millions struggle with some form of sleeplessness and sleep anxiety. A professional will help you narrow down the reasons for your distress and find more ways to help you than you may be able to on your own.

Final Thoughts

Sleep struggles do not have to define you. Understanding that it isn’t your fault but that there are things you can do is the first step. Let yourself find methods of self-soothing, such as the ones listed in the article, and let your mental health professional or medical professional know what you are going through so they can offer suggestions and help you, too.

Facing sleep is partly relaxation and partly decreasing the rumination in your head that we all suffer from. Simply trying to fall asleep may not be enough for you. You may have to take additional steps to get the help you need.

More importantly, don’t put extra pressure on yourself to get sleep that doesn’t want to come as this can worsen sleep anxiety. Be kind to yourself, take as many steps as you can toward a healthy sleep schedule, and watch the benefits slowly form.

More Tips for Healthy Sleep

Featured photo credit: Kinga Cichewicz via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Sarah Browne

Sarah is a speaker, writer and activist

5 Simple Steps to Cultivate a Positive Mental Attitude 10 Self-Exploration Practices to Discover Your True Self 14 Personal Goals for a Better You Next Year 7 Self-Soothing Techniques for Stress and Anxiety Relief 5 Ways to Help You Get Through Depression

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Published on February 26, 2021

8 Best Natural Energy Drinks For An Instant Energy Boost

8 Best Natural Energy Drinks For An Instant Energy Boost

Need an energy boost? Don’t reach for that soft drink! Sure, the sugar and caffeine might make you feel more energized, but that feeling is only a temporary spike in blood sugar. When it wears off, you’ll crash—and feel even worse than before!

The good news is that there are plenty of natural energy drinks that can ramp up your energy levels without spiking your blood sugar. That means no energy crash and no empty calories. Many of these drinks can even be made at home, so you can easily avoid the added sugars and artificial ingredients.

Here are eight of the best natural energy drinks you can try (and make) for yourself at home.

1. Kombucha

Kombucha is a fermented tea made with a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast). Kombucha has a long list of health properties: B vitamins, glucuronic acid (a detoxifier), and loads of antioxidant-rich polyphenols. But what kombucha is best known for is its probiotic bacteria and acetic acid, which have been shown to boost energy levels.[1]

Probiotics play a huge role in energy production. Studies suggest that by improving the balance of healthy bacteria in your gut, your “friendly” bacteria will be better able to break down the nutrients in the food you eat.[2] This means you’ll get a natural energy boost from eating the right foods!

Acetic acid has even been shown to increase your metabolism, which means you’ll be using calories from food more efficiently. Acetic acid is the only short-chain fatty acid to reach the systemic circulation in significant amounts where it provides energy for muscles and other tissues. It’s also non-insulinogenic, which means it won’t give you a blood sugar spike.

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You can brew kombucha yourself at home by obtaining a SCOBY, or you can buy bottled kombucha in a store. Just make sure you buy the real stuff![3]

2. Oolong Tea

Poor energy levels can be reversed with a delicious cup of oolong tea. This ancient Chinese beverage is also known as “black dragon tea,” and it’s packed with catechins similar to those found in green tea. These catechins work by promoting your body’s ability to break down fat, which can boost energy levels.

Studies suggest that the catechins in oolong help your body to use fat cells for energy, while the mild caffeine content can give you a quick boost for getting through the day. It’s also been found that drinking full-strength oolong tea may increase energy expenditure and fat oxidation by 12%, which means you’ll be better able to obtain energy from food. It may even help with weight loss![4]

You can make oolong tea with tea bags or loose leaves. Try blending it with green tea for an added boost!

3. Green Tea

Famous the world over, green tea is a powerhouse of health benefits and is often included in the list of beverages used by athletes for extra energy. The caffeine content of green tea is mostly responsible for its energizing benefits. Studies have shown that a regular cup or two of green tea can boost your metabolism and maintain healthy energy levels throughout the day.[5]

Moreover, green tea is believed to increase fat-burning by encouraging your fat cells to release fat, then stimulating your liver’s ability to convert that body fat into energy. This is particularly helpful for weight loss! Try drinking green tea throughout the day to keep your metabolism ticking and your brain active. A cup or two before a workout could also contribute to your endurance and stamina.

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4. Kvass

Kvass is another fermented food, like kombucha—but it’s made from rye bread.[6] This traditional Slavic and Baltic drink is actually known as “black bread,” and it’s still enjoyed in many Eastern European countries.

Kvass can be flavored with fruits, such as strawberries and raisins, or with herbs, such as mint. Traditionally, kvass is served unfiltered with its natural yeast content, which adds to its unique flavor. It’s a good source of B vitamins, which help your body produce energy. Kvass also contains lactic acid and simple sugars, which can be helpful for a quick boost.[7]

Like kombucha, the fermenting process of kvass allows for beneficial bacteria that may improve your digestion. This means you’ll be better able to absorb the energy content of foods you eat. Kvass can also be made with beetroot, which boosts its nutritional content and has excellent benefits you’re your gut microbiome. Beets are a good source of folate, vitamin C, potassium, iron, and phytonutrients. These are made more bioavailable when fermented into kvass!

5. Matcha

Matcha is one of Japan’s most revered beverages. It’s made by crushing green tea leaves into a fine, bright green powder before being mixed in with hot or cold water. This process helps to retain many of the natural antioxidants and other nutrients in the leaves.[8]

The matcha tea bushes are grown in areas out of sunlight, which delays photosynthesis and slows the growth of the plant. The result is a higher concentration of chlorophyll, a powerful detoxifier, and a good energy source.

Drinking matcha means you’re drinking the whole leaf—all the natural caffeine and antioxidants. The nutritional content is thought to be almost 10 times greater than traditionally steeped green tea! Best of all, matcha provides the energy that comes on gently, rather than the “hit” that coffee supplies.

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6. Coconut Water

Coconut water may be 95% water, but it’s still a great source of energizing minerals. Coconut water is the clear liquid found in green coconuts, and it’s a naturally sweet and refreshing drink.

Coconut water is a much healthier alternative to sports drinks—and contains more than 10 times the potassium! Potassium helps to maintain a healthy balance of electrolytes, which is essential before and during exercise as it has less sodium—the main electrolyte you lose with sweat—than most sport’s drinks. The magnesium in coconut water also supports normal energy production and reduces cramping so you’ll be able to keep exercising for longer.[9]

Most importantly, coconut water has fewer carbohydrates than many commercial sports beverages, which is important for proper rehydration after exercise.

7. Yerba Mate

Yerba mate is a traditional drink made from the dried leaves of Ilex paraguariensis, a type of holly native to South America. It’s a very social drink and famous throughout South America.

Yerba mate can boost your energy levels in much the same way as coffee but without the caffeine jitters! In fact, the energizing effects of yerba mate are described as gentle and calm. Mate drinkers report that they feel more alert but don’t experience the crash that coffee can produce.

It’s for this reason that many athletes use yerba mate to enhance their physical performance before a workout or event. It’s also believed to be helpful to those suffering from mental or physical fatigue or chronic fatigue syndrome.

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It’s also mentally energizing—yerba mate enhances memory, boosts mood, and increases concentration. It’s said to make you feel more motivated and be productive by stimulating the production of the neurotransmitter dopamine.[10]

8. Carrot Juice

Carrots are a fantastic source of beta-carotene—the provitamin A carotenoid which your body can quickly convert into vitamin A. Beta carotene is a powerful antioxidant that not only protects your body from free radicals but also bolsters energy levels.

Vitamin A plays many roles in growth and development, and it’s especially important in maintaining energy. Research has shown that vitamin A is crucial for assisting with daily energy production and physical activity.[11] Our cells create energy by first creating adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy-carrying molecule found in the cells of all living things. To do this, our cells first need sufficient vitamin A. Low levels of vitamin A will directly affect your body’s ATP production, causing your energy levels to dwindle.

Carrot juice is one of the healthiest veggie-based drinks out there, and it has much lower sugar than fruit juices! It’s also super easy to make at home.

Final Thoughts

You don’t have to consume artificial energy drinks to get the energy boost you need. Try out these eight natural energy drinks that are packed full of micronutrients to keep you healthy, active, and energized. You just have to put in a little more effort in preparing them, but I guarantee it’s worth it.

More Natural Energy Drinks

Featured photo credit: Raimond Klavins via unsplash.com

Reference

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