How to fall asleep when your brain won’t let you.
You’ve drunk all the sleepy tea in China, ommmed like mad and locked your phone in the downstairs drawer but anxiety wont let you sleep. It’s sleeping with the enemy, when the enemy is your overactive mind and you can’t locate the off button.
Sleep is personal. We all do it differently, at different times. We each have unique sleep habits and need varying amounts of sleep. That being said, there’s no one whose sleep isn’t compromised when they’re stressed and for many, anxiety only worsens when attempting to fall asleep. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders affect roughly 40 million adults in the United States, making it the most common mental illness in the country.
Why does anxiety get worse when falling asleep?
Anxiety can be worse at night partly because we have no distractions from our thoughts as we might during the day. We lie down seemingly tired, only to experience a rush of anxiety when falling asleep. Medical studies show that work-related stress is one of the biggest reasons for poor quality sleep.
When our occupational load spills over into our rest time it triggers adrenalines that run too high, too close to bed. That’s where the popular theory of ‘sleep hygiene’ comes into play, to allow our mental state to calm back down before bed. There’s also some evidence that human beings are more rational when upright. Animalistically speaking, this means that we’re more vulnerable when lying down, so if you find yourself catastrophizing, you should sit up and let those thoughts process fully before settling back to sleep.
Why does sleep matter so much?
The pressure to sleep better is real because these are the hours the body needs to rest, regenerate and heal. Sleep plays a crucial role in every internal system, and the efficiency of every physiological function is, in turn, reliant on sleep. Sleep prevents disease, improves cognitive function, rebuilds muscle and, fights cellular inflammation. No wonder we are so keen to get more of it.
What does good sleep look like?
There are plenty of misconceptions around night-time waking. Sleep scientists estimate that the average adult wakes up ten times during the night, but we don’t remember these awakenings because they typically last just three minutes. A healthy person will fall back to sleep but if you haven’t properly switched off from the day, when a natural awakening happens in the night, a thought tends to enter, consciousness latches onto it and wakes you up.
What counts as sleep anxiety?
When your mind races, thoughts flood into your consciousness, and worries go into overdrive, creating sleep anxiety. But it can also present more subtly as simply not being able to get to sleep.
“A good rule of thumb is if it takes you more than half an hour to fall asleep or to get back to sleep, then you should look to fix it. If this is happening more than three nights a week, for more than three months and it's causing you problems in your life, you've probably crossed the line into an insomnia disorder,” explains Dr Michael Grandner, a Sleep Scientist and Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Arizona.
These two things are guaranteed to calm night anxiety
Ashwagandha & saffron extract are the not-so-secret to a good night's sleep, in fact they’ve been used for millennia for this very problem. But the lack of substantial medical evidence on their dosage, absorbability and quality have kept them somewhat under the radar. Until now.
LYMA contains Ashwagandha KSM-66® and validated saffron extract affron®; both are patented, bio-engineered forms of ancient ingredients and unrivalled in their sleep-supporting ability. These two ingredients work in tandem to alleviate stress, calm negative thoughts, lift moods and promote restorative sleep, thus lessening the likelihood of insomnia and reducing the time it takes to fall asleep. Peer-reviewed studies have demonstrated Ashwagandha KSM-66® as a world-class nootropic, immunostimulant, anti-inflammatory and cortisol regulator, able to create the optimum physical environment for deep, restful sleep. In turn, affron® is proven to reduce anxiety and quieten mental chatter, allowing the mind to reach a zen-like state.
“Every element of the LYMA Supplement has undergone published, randomised, controlled trials. Each ingredient has been tested, vetted and demonstrated its worth in a clinical trial and most importantly, at the dose that’s in there.”
Dr Michael Grandner, a Sleep Scientist, University of Arizona
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5 coping strategies for anxiety that will fix your sleep fast and naturally
1. No lounging
Experts advise we should only be in bed for sleeping, not winding down or relaxing. Drink your herbal tea downstairs, read in a comfortable chair and only climb into bed when you are absolutely ready to sleep. That way, getting into bed becomes a trigger response for sleep.
2. Out of office
Being stressed during work hours shouldn’t negatively impact sleep. The single most effective boundary to instil for better sleep is not checking emails for a 12-hr block between 7pm and 7am. Creating that boundary between work and rest gives the adrenals time to gently lower cortisol levels, changing the body into relaxation mode and a more restful, sleep-ready state.
3. Pillow talk
Therapists recommend sleeping on your left side to calm the nervous system and introducing sleep pillows to ease stressful thoughts because hugging something helps us feel safe and comforted. Body pillows can also ease physical aches and pains, further supporting better quality sleep.
4. Ambient noise
Listening to sweet nothing has been extensively proven to quieten the mind and change our brain activity. A sleep study on pink noise that tracked brain activity showed ambient noise creates deeper sleep with fewer complex brain waves and participants fell back asleep quicker when disturbed.
5. Stillness, not sleep
Scientists term it NSDR (non-sleep deep rest) but the spiritual set call it Yoga Nidra. Either way, it’s conscious sleep and it’s especially effective at reducing stress and anxiety and treating insomnia. It’s made up of hypnotic relaxation and guided meditation with specific breathing techniques to induce deep relaxation of body and mind. Those who practise Yoga Nidra aren’t trying to sleep or lose consciousness, but reach a complete rest state of mental stillness and emotional balance.
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