Six tips to help you fall asleep at night if you are feeling anxious

Sleep expert shares top tips on how to set up bedroom to get the best night's sleep

“Don’t overthink it,” Kerry Booth, the head of occupational therapy at Cygnet Health Care, advised.

“One of the challenges many of us face at bedtime is a mind filled with worries about the prospect of another bad night’s sleep,” said Booth.

Clinically known as hyperarousal, Booth encourages you to be compassionate with yourself.

“If you’re going through a bad patch with your sleep, you should let go of the idea of aiming for eight hours of sleep,” she stated. “Adopt an ‘I’ll take what I can get’ approach instead.”

Booth also suggested building your sleep drive, which can be powerful.

“Sleep drive is the need for deep sleep and is at its lowest when we wake up in the morning,” said Booth. “This pressure to sleep then builds up the longer we stay awake.”

This is why it’s key to avoid any type of nap throughout the day, which can lower your sleep drive later that night.

Booth stated another key way to build up your sleep drive is to get up at the same time every day – no matter how little sleep you got throughout the night.

She added: “Equally, avoid the temptation of treating yourself to an early night after a bad night’s sleep as this again will disrupt your routine and sleep drive.”

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For those who get into bed and don’t feel tired, “try to remain calm and accept you’re not quite ready yet”.

Booth advised: “Get up and do a gentle task until the sleep drive has built up a little more and try again.”

Gentle tasks could include:

  • Writing a shopping list
  • Reading a book
  • Doing a puzzle
  • Tidying a cupboard or drawer
  • Sorting the laundry
  • Listening to an audiobook or podcast.

There is also an “optimal time for bed”, if you pay attention to your own personal dips.

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Booth explained: “When you get tired, you are heading for a dip. If you are yawning at 8.30pm, you are likely to be dipping and your next dip will be 10.00pm.

“So preparing for bed at 9.45pm will mean you are asleep for 10.00pm.”

Additional factors include receiving natural daylight, not pressing snooze in the mornings, and making sure the bedroom is quiet, dark and comfortable.

“If you struggle to ‘switch off’ when you go to bed, try writing your thoughts down in a book that you keep by your bed,” Booth concluded.

Six tips to fall asleep if you’re feeling anxious

  1. Be compassionate
  2. Build your sleep drive
  3. Time the 90-minute cycle dips
  4. Go out in natural daylight
  5. Don’t press snooze
  6. Journal.

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