How to calm anxiety at night: 6 proven solutions
If you’ve ever been kept up at night with anxious thoughts, learn more about how you can get anxiety-free sleep.
Anxiety is a complex, often misunderstood mental illness—some people's anxiety feels like fear or panic, while others experience more subtle symptoms, such as an increased heart rate or difficulty concentrating. If you have anxiety, it's not uncommon to experience symptoms at night, which can prevent you from getting a good night's sleep.
If you’re wondering how to calm anxiety at night, there are some handy tips and tricks to help you calm your mind and soothe your sleep anxiety.
6 ways to calm anxiety before bed
1. Breathe deeply
The first thing to do when you're feeling anxiety at night is to take some deep breaths. Breathe in through your nose and exhale slowly through your mouth, counting to 10 as you exhale. Repeat this breathing exercise three times, and you'll start to feel your mind clear and your body relax.
You can also try closing your eyes and imagining that you are holding an object in front of you like a ball or a cup. Inhale deeply through your nose as though the object is filling up with air, then exhale slowly through pursed lips without making any sound. Repeat for about five minutes until a feeling of calmness washes over you—and you're ready to get some zzz's.
2. Curb screen time
Phones are distracting, and when you interact with it too much before bed, they can cause stress and sleep anxiety. Using your phone before bed means you're soaking up bright light that will disrupt your sleep cycle by suppressing melatonin production. Scrolling on your phone also produces dopamine, which causes you to feel more alert, which isn't what you want right before bed.
If you're struggling to ditch your device, set an early bedtime where notifications are paused, or you could try listening to calming music, a podcast, or reading a book instead. Once you've done this over the course of a few nights, (and started sleeping much better), you'll be less and less tempted to check your messages.
3. Try meditation
Meditation is a great way to calm your mind and reduce sleep anxiety. You can practice meditation sitting or lying down, for just a few minutes, or even an hour at a time. All you need to do is close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and try to slow down. If you fins yourself thinking about what happened during the day, or stressful situations, acknowledge the thought and try to come back to a calm state.
There's lots of different ways to practice meditation, it all depends on what speaks to you and brings you a feeling of calm. If you're new to meditation and not quite sure how to get started, there's tonnes of apps and video guides available online that can help guide you through the process step by step.
4. Take a bath or shower
Taking a hot bath or shower before bed is an effective way to shed the stresses of the day and curb anxiety at night:
Take a bath with some Epsom salt dissolved into it—this will help relax all the muscles in your body, which signals to your brain that it's time for rest.
Lie back in a bath with your eyes closed for 15 minutes, focusing on each breath that you take. This should slow down your heart rate and help you feel more relaxed.
Create your very own safe space in the bathroom: light a candle, play your favourite album, listen to a podcast, or just soak up the steam in silence—whatever makes you feel relaxed.
5. Break a sweat
Exercising regularly is a great way to help you sleep at night by supporting your mental health and improving your mood. In fact, the 2013 Sleep in America poll found that 76-83% of respondents who engage in light, moderate, or vigorous exercise reported very good or fairly good sleep quality.
Try exercising at least three times a week for 30 minutes each time—if you're just starting out, try doing 10 minutes per day and build up from there. If you already exercise regularly, try something new: yoga, swimming, dancing, walking, cycling, rollerskating, kayaking... whatever floats your boat!
6. Read a book
Reading right before bed helps your brain to relax and calm your sleep anxiety—it's a great alternative to scrolling endlessly. Choose a book you enjoy, (try avoiding anything too stressful, tense, or stressful), and it'll help distract your brain from the anxiety that's keeping you awake at night.
If reading isn't for you (no judgement), listening to audiobooks, music, or podcasts are just as effective. Anything that helps your mind focus on something calming and restful.
It can be difficult to get a good night's rest when life is stressful or chaotic, but, with a few simple changes, you can improve your sleep quality, feel better throughout the day, and give your brain a well deserved rest. Our Smart Supplement is a great way to keep your brain running on full steam, alleviating the symptoms of sleep anxiety.