Insomnia can arise from several causes. However, worrying is one of the most frequent reasons people suffer from chronic sleep loss. If your mind boosts into overdrive when your head hits the pillow, conjuring mountains from molehills, no wonder you have difficulty getting to sleep.
Here’s how to stop anxiety stealing shuteye. First, though, you’re more likely to rewire your brain for sleep if you recognize why it’s currently wired for insomnia.
Repetition creates neural pathways
Repeated behaviors, such as worrying at night, turn into habits. Your brain is wired for insomnia if you’ve spent numerous nights wide awake, fretting about problems. Just as it takes time to generate neural pathways in the brain via repetition, it takes a while to override old tracks and create new, preferable ones.
The following tips can help you get to sleep, but they might not work instantly. Instead, be patient and carry them out until they are habitual. Once you’ve forged fresh neural connections, it will be easier to sleep every night.
Create a routine to help you relax
Anxiety increases when you go to bed because you expect to stay awake. After all, that’s what usually happens. So, as stress keeps you alert when you want to sleep, you don’t want to stimulate angst.
Follow a routine to teach your mind and body to relax when bedtime’s close rather than increase stress and endure insomnia. Carrying out similar habits each night will put you in the mood to shut down your busy mind and rest.
Your routine might include using calming lavender essential oil in a hot bath an hour before bed and then settling down to read. Or, you might prefer to listen to soothing music, write in a journal, or do something else relaxing before turning in for the night.
If you expect to encounter insomnia, your anxiety will grow. People who find it hard to sleep often tell themselves they must fall asleep instantly when they go to bed, imagining they can force the issue. But doing so creates resistance and strain.
Rather than put pressure on yourself to sleep, imagine you are going to rest and enjoy peaceful thoughts. Your change of attitude will help to override old neural paths in your brain and make way for the new habit of sleeping.
Calm your worries
When stress rises as you try to sleep, recall there’s never a sane reason to worry. Going over problems isn’t logical and won’t help.
Bear in mind difficulties fall into one of two categories:
- You have the power to alter problems and make positive changes.
- You can’t do anything about the challenges you face.
Consequently, you can modify the cause of angst and eliminate the difficulty. Or accept that you can’t make changes and must accept the situation. Either way, you have no reason for anxiety.
Slow your thoughts
Calm your system ready for sleep further with a gentle, mindful exercise. When in bed, let thoughts appear and acknowledge them. When you note them, imagine they shrink, float away, or disappear. Use your mind to picture their insignificance fading.
Initially, the exercise might not be easy, but practice, and you’ll see positive results. The same goes if thoughts flow as self-talk. Reduce their volume or change them to make them funny; concerns aired as a squeaky cartoon character voice, for instance, will lose their importance and disappear.
Focus on your body
Next, concentrate on physical experience rather than mental noise. Think about your body, starting at your feet, and imagine your muscles relaxing. Work slowly up to the crown of your head while also following your breath. There’ll be no room for worries to stream, and you’ll become sleepy.
Worrying can keep you awake and steal much-needed shuteye. Note the suggestions mentioned in the order provided, and you will rewire your brain to help you sleep well.