Sleeping With Anxiety

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While the clocks springing forward brings lighter nights and the promise of better weather it can also cause issues for those who have problems sleeping.

Anxiety disorder can hugely exacerbate sleeping problems, and with over eight million cases of anxiety reported in the UK alone each year, even this slight change in routine can mean many are left struggling to doze off.

Mind coach, television presenter and author of the best selling book, Breaking Mad, Anna Williamson shares her top tips and advice for sleeping with anxiety.

1) Firstly, remember you’re not alone: Being awake when it seems everyone else is asleep can feel the most lonely time. Rest assured it isn’t just you and take some comfort that there are other’s watching late night TV repeats too!

2) Choose a time: You might not have kept to a bedtime since you were a child, but it’s helpful to create a routine and a rough ideal of when you want to be in bed. That way you’re one step ahead and will avoid a potential rush to bed, which can cause you to become flustered and worrying about how much sleep you’re going to get.

3) Ban technology: Phones, tablets, laptops etc all stimulate the mind and therefore hinder sleep taking over. Keep screens OUT of the bedroom and invest in an alarm clock to act as your wake up call.

4) Prepare for sleep: Help to reduce any anxiety and stress by creating a bedtime routine. A warm bath with relaxing oils, low level lighting and a warm (not caffeinated drink) can all help set the mood.

5) Write a to-do list: Limit all whirling thoughts by writing them down. This will get any niggles or worries out of your head and onto paper. In doing so, this can help in letting any angst go and will result in a more restful sleep.

6) Listen to music: Choosing the right song is key. Choose something soothing, relaxing and calming as it really can help in promoting positive happy and anxiety free feelings.

7) Breathe: When we’re anxious we don’t breathe properly. Deep breathing is important so really focus on breathing slowly in through your nose for seven seconds and then out through your mouth for 11 seconds. This will naturally help calm you down, thus making you more likely to sleep.

 8) Avoid alcohol and caffeine: Anxiety’s nemesis… keep clear of all stimulants as these will only hinder your sleep in the long run. Choose a herbal tea instead.

 9) Do something boring: If you can’t sleep or wake up in the night and can’t get back to sleep, don’t reward your brain by watching a gripping TV show. Instead, pick a really boring task! You’re far more likely to tire quicker and fall asleep if the task is boring.

 10) Exercise: This is proven to help promote sleep and endorphins (happy chemicals which reduce anxiety). So why not try to take some gentle/moderate exercise before bed? Perhaps a walk, yoga class, or swim.

Anna’s latest book, Breaking Mum and Dad: The Insider’s Guide to Parenting Anxiety (£12.99) is out now published by Green Tree at

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