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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Barsky

What to Do If Anxiety Symptoms Make It Hard to Sleep

Do you suffer from anxiety? If so, you’re probably well aware of how it can interfere with your ability to sleep. Anxiety symptoms can make it hard to fall asleep, cause you to wake up sleepless in the middle of the night, and make you wake up earlier than you want. Living with anxiety is often frustrating, and living with anxiety-related insomnia makes it even more frustrating. It’s a double-edged sword, too, because lack of restorative sleep can make your anxiety symptoms worse. This creates a painful cycle.

If this sounds familiar, it’s important to help your anxiety-related sleep problems. Fortunately, there are many steps you can take on your own to improve them.

Sleep Hygiene

A good place to start is to evaluate your sleep hygiene before you try to implement any changes to your sleep habits. Sleep hygiene is a fancy phrase for doing those things that scientists know make sleep easier.

Foundational habits include keeping your bedroom as dark as possible and using the room only for sleeping if you can (not as an office, etc.)

Likewise, it’s known that we sleep best when our house is cool. Aim for temperatures in the mid-sixties Fahrenheit. Use cotton bedding instead of synthetic.

Maintaining a regular sleep schedule is also important. Try to go to bed and get up at the same time each day, including weekends.

After you’ve assessed these basics, the following suggestions are also helpful for sleeping better with anxiety.

Relaxation Routines

Anxiety keeps you keyed up and restless. This is because your brain gets stuck in fight, flight, or freeze mode, even if there is no immediate threat. Anxiety keeps your stress hormones (adrenaline, cortisol, etc.) at high levels. But these hormones make your body tense and your brain overactive. Fortunately, your brain and body will respond to intentional efforts to relax. Consider adding some or all these ideas to your evening routine:

Do stretches or yoga poses known to aid sleep. Stretching helps your muscles relax, which reduces tense aches and pains that keep you awake.

Turn off your electronics at least an hour before bed. The blue light they emit prevents your brain from releasing the melatonin you need to doze off.

Practice several minutes of deep breathing. When you feel anxious, breathing is often shallower than it should be. When you slow down and breathe deeply, you increase the amount of oxygen reaching your brain. This helps you sleep better.

Try to get your worries out before bed - easier said than done, I know! It is often anxious thoughts that are often responsible for keeping you awake. You can be proactive by writing them down on paper before sleep. This way you know you won’t forget them, but you won’t have to hang on to them in bed.

Physical Aids

Aim to fit in 20-30 minutes of light exercise a day to improve your sleep. This can be difficult, but even a simple walk through the park can provide important benefits.

Some vitamins, supplements, and herbal products are known sleep aids. Consider adding magnesium citrate, calcium, or melatonin to your regimen. Always consult with your physician before doing so, of course.

Essential oils can also be a simple thing to add to your evening sleep routine. Scents such as jasmine, sandalwood, and lavender are popular choices for inducing sleep. Be sure to check their safety for use around kids and pets.


If anxiety continues to make sleep difficult, it’s important to reach out for help. Therapy for anxiety can help you address the root cause and teach you ways to relax. A therapist can also provide helpful recommendations for any medical evaluations that may be necessary to treat insomnia.

Improving your sleep will go a long way toward lessening your anxiety, and vice versa. It is possible to find rest and heal from anxiety. To learn more about anxiety treatment, click the link!


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