What to do when you can’t sleep because of anxiety

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Your bedtime rituals can be a preparation for the ‘journey of sleep’.  You wouldn’t go on holiday with just a toothbrush, would you? So if you do suffer from anxiety which makes it difficult to sleep, then try some of these steps in your journey towards a great night’s sleep.

Here are 4 things you can do when you can’t sleep because of anxiety:

1. Change around the room where you sleep

Taking the time to create a restful bedroom is one of the most simple approaches when you can’t sleep because of anxiety.

Check the temperature of the room
It’s best if you have it cooler than you think you need it. Adjust by opening a window or popping on the heating or air conditioner.

Make it feel good to get in the coversA young woman making the bed and organizing the room calmer you sleep anxiety
Change your bed linen regularly. There’s something very soothing about clean nice smelling sheets you can squish yourself into.

Get the dog, the cats and the kids out of the bed
I know it’s difficult – but they won’t help regulate your sleep patterns.

If you can, invest in good bed linen
Find your perfect pillow and choose bedding which makes you feel good when you get into bed.

Clear your space
An untidy room with your ‘stuff’ everywhere won’t help you to get to sleep. Can you move some things out, and put others away? There really shouldn’t be a TV in the room, or any electrical devices. At the very least turn your wifi off, switch off at the plug not stand-by, and go to airplane mode on your phone, the alarm will still work!

ACTION: Go around your room and make notes of what you could do to create a calmer space to sleep. Is there clutter around that could be put away? Does your digital alarm clock shine too brightly? Consider whether you need to get a black-out blind or even a new mattress? What will you change?

2. Create a bedtime routine that you really love doing.

How could you come up with a bedtime routine that will soothe you into the sheets and off to dreamland? What could you do that will make you feel safe, held, comforted, relaxed and ready for bed?

Bedtime grooming

You probably know that a hot bath will help you to relax, but you don’t have to have a one bath every night – your lifestyle might not allow for it. But adding some ‘rituals’ into getting ready for bed will not only serve as a distraction from anxious thoughts, but also prepare your body and mind for sleep. Self care is really effective in reducing anxiety, which will induce a better sleep, so pay a bit of attention to yourself.

Even if you think you haven’t got time for these before bed, if you’re not sleeping, then why not make your bedtime grooming a fun and more conscious thing that you do?

Go Last
If there’s  a queue for the loo, then wait until everyone else has used the bathroom so you don’t need to rush.

When you get to the bathroom, try some of these techniques. At the very least you will feel better.

woman bathroom calmer you sleep anxietyGroom ‘on purpose’ :-

  • Cleanse, tone and a moisturising face massage. A facial massage with some oil can  boost serotonin levels.
  • Mindful teeth-brushing – don’t just fling the toothbrush around like you did as a kid.
  • Moisturising skin, feet, hands.
  • A hot shower can be quicker than a bath and relax your muscles
  • Clean PJ’s will make you feel good.
  • Playing gentle music while you’re getting ready for bed will distract your thoughts.


ACTION: How can you set up your self-care routine? Could you do with a new pair of PJ’s, even a good toothbrush, or some luxurious moisturiser? You’re worth it! What can you do – make some notes.

3. Pay attention to what you’re eating, when you’re eating, and perhaps add some supplements

Adding good things in
If you can, try taking more vitamin B6 during the day, perhaps some CoQ10. There’s a lot of research around that magnesium before bed will also regulate your system and support a better sleep.

Advanced nutrition
If you’re knowledgeable on your nutrition, you could add adaptogens such as cordyceps, Ashwaganda or Rhodiola.

What and when
Try not to eat a big meal in the evenings (you know this, right), and no caffeine after lunch time. And no booze. You might think that a glass of wine will help you relax, but it is a stimulant and very likely won’t, so try knocking it on the head in the week, when you need your sleep more. Having some slow releasing carbohydrates before bed can help you to release more serotonin, making you feel more relaxed and sleepy. Try eating a rice cake, or a little brown rice, wholemeal or buckwheat pasta or quinoa.

ACTION: What can you try? Can you switch to a de-decaffeinated drink? What about no alcohol at home? What about doing some research on supplements?  (Always check with your GP that any supplements do not interact with any medication that you may be on.)

4. Get support from experts to help relax your body and mind

Getting help doesn’t always mean going to a therapist and talking things through. You may well be doing that already.

Rock your body
Bodywork has been found to be really effective in helping when you can’t sleep because of anxiety. The body can hold tension making it difficult to relax. So what I mean by bodywork is trying acupuncture, craniosacral therapy or massage where a trusted expert can re-set your body (and mind) to a more relaxed state, so naturally you won’t feel so tense, and be able to unwind before bed.

Work on finding an exercise that you like so you are physically ‘tired’. Exercise also burns up adrenaline and produces feel good endorphins.

Balance your mind and body
Your mind will be on the go all day at work, but your body may not. Equally you might be on your feet all day in a job where you don’t have to think, and you body is tired, but your mind is not. So when you can’t sleep because of anxiety, it could well be down to the fact your mind and body is out of synch on the tired scale.

Yoga, meditation and breathing exercises will help you to align all the component parts of yourself, physically and emotionally, so you are ready for rest. It’s really easy to find a yoga class near you, but if you can’t get there, you can find all you need online. Just a few gentle stretches, some breathing and even just a 5 minute attempt at a meditation will work wonders. There are many Youtube yoga videos that you can watch for free, – take a moment to search through a few until you find one you like.

Get a bespoke evening ritual
I would suggest that you invest in a private 1 to 1 session with a local teacher who can create a home practice just for you.

ACTION: Can you find a local bodyworker and try out one of their treatments? Where is your local yoga class? Can you find a yoga video for sleep on Youtube? Can you book a class in for next week?

Other ideasYoung woman bed book calmer you sleep anxiety

  • Reading a fiction book Before Bed. Reading some fiction (a story – not facts) before bed. Cosmo says just six minutes of reading can ‘ease the tension of stress’.  Tablets and mobile devices can actually keep you awake, so switch back to books. Check google for ‘books that are good to read and help you to sleep’.
  • Writing a worry list before bed so you can dump thoughts and worries and return to them in the morning
  • Listening to the Relaxation MP3 that you got from Calmer You – or download it by clicking the blue button below if you haven’t already.


While you are deciding which action points to include in your new evening routine, here’s a great – and immediate strategy – click the button below to receive your FREE relaxation MP3 and weekly tips, inspiration and resources for becoming your calmest self.