Below sleep expert and mental health nurse Jane Bozier tells us how to stop worrying at bedtime …
Sleep is essential for your health and well-being. Getting the recommended amount of sleep every night has a positive effect on you, including heart health, weight and mood. I know when I don’t sleep well I feel more irritable and I worry more.
Worrying increases your stress and this in turn increases your worry. S,o by the time you go to bed your worry can feel enormous and your stress levels are very high.
Stop Worrying At Bedtime
There are many things that you can do to help you to stop worrying before you go to bed. The tips below will help you to get a better nights sleep.
- Don’t nap after 5pm.
- Exercise during the day at least 2 – 3 hours before you go to bed. Exercise not only uses some of your body’s energy, it can also help to distract your mind, release happy hormones into your body and bring your stress levels down. Reduced stress levels may help you to worry less. Giving your mind a break from worry can sometimes help you to get your focus and perspective back. Is it really as bad as you think or have you “catastrophized?”
- Train your brain and busy your mind. As with exercise, busying your mind helps to distract it from your worries. Try a new hobby such as mindful colouring or knitting. Maybe have a go at a crossword, a word search or some Sudoku. Not only will you distract your mind from your worries, you will achieve and create which will release some happy hormones into your body, making you feel good.
- Write a list of worries as you go through your day and about 2 – 3 hours before you go to bed start to cross them off, perhaps write either, “I’m dealing with” or “I’ve dealt with” This can help you to get a sense of relief from your worries, letting them go, knowing that you are managing them. This can also help you to separate your worries from your bedtime routine.
- Have a pre-bedtime routine where you switch off your technology, do a little gentle yoga, meditate, perhaps have a warm bath and clean your teeth before you go to bed. Preparing both your mind and body to drift into a natural sleep.
- Create an environment that supports sleep. Declutter your bedroom, remove technology, think about the lighting, temperature and colours in your bedroom and keep the bedroom a place to sleep in. Develop a habit that says bed is for sleep. If you then find yourself worrying whilst in bed, get up, go into another room and do something to distract your mind until you are tired and then go back to bed.
- Focus on the positive – keep a gratitude diary. Spend a moment both morning and night reminding yourself of three things that you are grateful for that day. It doesn’t have to be grand, it can be a smile from a stranger, seeing your children, grandchildren, your pet(s), your friends, your colleagues. Remind yourself of the good things and smile every day.
Jane’s guided imagery exercises are featured in new sleep app, Rise which you can download from the App Store and Google Play.