Get Rid of Anxiety
Insomnia isn’t a sleep disorder, it’s an anxiety disorder. If you know the feeling of climbing into bed, closing your eyes, and instead of feeling sleepy, only feeling your mind start to race and your heart start to beat faster, you know this is true. This post gives you four simple ways to reduce daily anxiety to make falling asleep (and staying asleep) easier.
Out of Shape People Can be Relaxed Too
There are so many positive ways to reduce anxiety and make a huge difference in your sleep – and I’m not even going to talk about exercise, which is, of course, one of the biggest. If you don’t know about all the great benefits of exercise, just google ‘exercise,’ you’ll want to try it. Instead, I’m going give you some easy resources that can make a big difference fast:
The benefits of meditation are endless and incredibly well documented, so I’ll be brief. Meditation has been shown to improve your stress levels, alleviate depression, reduce anxiety, encourage creativity, and improve relationships. It can also do a lot for your sleep. The easiest way I’ve found is www.calm.com – it’s free and you can choose sessions as short as 5 minutes. 10 or 15 minute sessions are what I usually go for and I feel fantastic afterwards. For your iPhone or Android, Headspace is a great app. For those who want to go further, a good book is Meditation Made Easy by Lorin Roche. I will absolutely guarantee that regular meditation, even for short periods, will reduce your daily anxiety and help you sleep better. It’s powerful stuff.
To me, yoga isn’t so different from meditation. It’s light exercise and of course it’s great to stay flexible, but the important benefits for sleep and other areas of my life come from the breathing and the focus. I’m sure serious Yoga practitioners would disagree with me but no matter what’s responsible, yoga is fantastic for lowering your daily anxiety and will help you sleep better. The best part is that you can do yoga at home, anytime you want. Youtube is full of talented instructors sharing their videos for free. My all-time favorite is Sean Vigue. It’s a good workout, he makes it fun, and he’s not ‘mystical’ or self-important like so many other yoga practitioners. Best of all, he keeps his focus on the breathing so you feel great when the session is over. If you want more, Yoga By Candace is also good – she has a wide range of styles and intensity levels and if you want to go further, some of her sessions are really advanced. Finally, I’ve also enjoyed Yoga with Adrian – she also has a wide range of styles and workout levels.
I’ve always been an anxious person and after about three weeks of regular yoga (three times a week) and meditation (more intermittent, maybe two times a week) something just snapped in me. It felt like the air going out of a balloon and I suddenly realized that I didn’t feel anxious. I didn’t catch myself holding my breath, I wasn’t turning the same endless worries in my head. I was just calmly getting things done. And I was sleeping better. Amazing.
Isn’t There a Pill I Can Take?
There are a few good supplements out there that can reduce anxiety, without being addictive or prone to abuse. The first three on the list are called Adaptogens, which are a unique class of medicinal plants known for their ability to help the body cope with stress and for their lack of side effects.
An extract of green tea, L-Theanine (or Theanine) relaxes but doesn’t make you sleepy. It also improves attention and has a synergistic relationship with caffeine, taking away much of the anxiety that is one of caffeine’s main side effects. Side note: those serious about reducing anxiety should reduce their caffeine intake drastically. Read more about Theanine here. Buy it here.
Well known to reduce anxiety, it’s so important and so effective that it has its own page here.
This is an extract from a deep-water fish found off the coast of Brittany, in France. It has been shown to subtly reduce anxiety and improve the effectiveness of sleep aids like Melatonin. Some users report that it makes Melatonin too effective and makes them sleepy all day, so go slowly. Read more about it here. Buy it here.
Make a Change
Incorporate one of two relaxation techniques into your daily routine – Yoga or Meditation. I didn’t mention it because it’s so obvious, but consider adding aerobic exercise to the mix. Any of them will make a difference, the key is to find which works best for you and your schedule. Give it at least two weeks and note how you feel (consider noting it in your Sleep Diary). Consider adding an anti-anxiety supplement as well – the six mentioned above are gentle and will subtly lower your daily anxiety.
References and Additional Resources
http://www.longecity.org/forum/topic/54028-treating-anxiety-safely-effectively/ – A long post on the best supplements for fighting anxiety
http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/mindfulness-meditation-helps-fight-insomnia-improves-sleep-201502187726 – A quick summary of meditation’s benefits for sleep
http://www.emmaseppala.com/20-scientific-reasons-to-start-meditating-today/#.Vr8055MrJE4 – A Comprehensive rundown of all the benefits meditation brings to your life
http://greatist.com/move/yoga-for-better-sleep – A good routine for bedtime Yoga
https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/sleep-newzzz/201210/yoga-can-help-insomnia – Details Harvard Study on Yoga Benefits for Sleep
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15707256 – Link to a Harvard study similar to the one mentioned above http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/8753-201512048753 – Good article on Yoga breath (breathing is the most important part!) http://www.clinicaleducation.org/resources/abstracts/anxiety-and-fatigue-respond-to-natural-agent-better-than-to-benzodiazepines/ – Explanation of the existing research around Garum Amoricum