This post started out as a response to a post I read, and then grew and grew until I gave it space to expand! It was the article The Torment of Anxiety which triggered my words here.
Ah, yes! Anxiety! Sneaking into my mind and creating havoc as I try to fall asleep! I can relate! Anxiety is the toughie interrupter of sleep! It starts well before bedtime I’m sure you know… Rather the roots occur before going to bed! So, the solution lies before bedtime too!
When I’ve had a disagreement during the day, which I haven’t resolved for one reason or another, it loves to get thought over while I’m trying to fall asleep. Oh, there’s other reasons for this to happen too; things which love to grab my attention, things which I’ve been too busy during the day to focus on, all love to talk to me and get my attention!
Over the years I’ve taken a lot of time to look at why this occurs and to deal with it so my sleep is more restful, and I’ve come up a few solutions which I use so regularly now that I scarcely think about them now!
With a busy hectic life we end up collapsing into bed exhausted, with no time to think about ourselves… Then those nighttime demons come, insisting on having chats in our heads, keeping us up for hours!
So what’s a person to do about it?
Well, around an hour before bedtime is the time to start the routine believe it or not! “Agh! I don’t HAVE an hour before bed! I have no ME time!” You may say!
Okay, so start just a little before your normal bedtime and continue for a little after… It really doesn’t need to take much time, and if it saves a few hours of tossing and turning? Golden! Time well spent!
First to check off: are you in pain or sick? That can trigger the mind to go into overdrive! Maybe get checked up? Need any meds?
Another thing which triggered me? Menopause! I hit it very early and it lasted for many years! The fluctuations in hormones played havoc with my thoughts and emotions!
I used natural herbs and acupuncture to deal with the symptoms. I chose not to take hormone replacements since I’ve had a history of hundreds of fibroids and three major surgeries, so I didn’t wish to trigger off more!
I learned that a bedtime routine helps the brain to transition from daytime business to nighttime rest. I needed to incorporate a few things since my brain needed more time to transition!
In order to make my transition into a state that my body could recognize as getting ready for bed, I realized that I needed to have consistent triggers to make that happen. To really make it work, I had to figure out what things made me feel anxious.
Doing the dishes and cleaning up the kitchen may seem boring or a waste of a good evening to some people who prefer to tackle it in the morning when they have more energy, but I found that the routine was reliable as a trigger, and with time I found comfort in it. I feel anxious when the kitchen is dirty, so I NEED to clean it up before I can sit down to watch some TV or do some writing at night.
I also learned that creating a list of things which wanted to be dealt with was a great way of acknowledging all those little sleep robbing voices! (Of course, following through helped those little voices learn to trust me, that I would tackle those things, and wasn’t just giving them lip service!)
Here’s a new tip I’ve discovered which helps me turn those lists from dust collectors into powerful action tools: I’LL EMAIL MYSELF!! (As I did with this answer, because it’s shaped up into an article I feel I haven’t addressed in my list of helpful articles!) This system works best when each idea is in a separate email!
Most of my emails are ideas about writing, so I move all those emails into a folder “Ideas for Articles”, which I’ll work with regularly. I’ll do a brain dump for each idea, not particularly worrying about flow, as long as I write out each point. When I come back to a particular subject I wish to write about, I just have to copy/paste the contents and massage and tweak it into the article I wish it to be!
One tried and true trick I used during those menopause years was to have a mug of warm milk and sugar or honey. (For folks who just can’t stand the smell of warm milk, try an herbal nighttime tea, I recommend peppermint tea with a few dashes of cinnamon and sweetened with honey. My grand-kids prefer that one, so did my second ex husband!) It helped to make me sleepy, yes, but just sitting down, taking the time to sit quietly, breathing in the warm vapors became my little oasis of calm and helped my mind to calm down.
I didn’t have that nifty email trick to write out all the myriad of things which had yet to be done, or the new lists which were forming, triggered by the days events, so I tried writing things out on post-it notes and pieces of paper. These got lost or forgotten, so they ended up adding to my anxiety.
I was in a marriage which was going from unhealthy to toxic, so most of the anxieties were related to the very difficult issues we were dealing with.Once I was out of that relationship I was very surprised to see that I didn’t have much difficulty falling asleep!
I suppose that without the extreme anxiety producing situation in my life, all the new routines I had set up for myself had a chance to work and to be effective!
I’m not suggesting you leave relationships to reduce anxiety… that’s something you need to determine for yourself!
These tips may not be the immediate cure-all you might be seeking, but if you implement routines which work for you into your day, then perhaps over time your brain will ease up on you, allowing you to get your rest… and once you’re feeling better rested, perhaps your anxiety levels will diminish too!
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Complete list from the 2016 A to Z Challenge:
#anxiety, #sleep, #writing tips