Feel Good, Look Great
Still trying to get into a spring sleep routine with the lighter nights? Sleeping problems can be hugely exacerbated by anxiety disorders. In fact, did you know that more than eight million cases of anxiety are reported in the UK alone each year, many of us facing sleep deprivation on a daily basis?
Here mind coach, counsellor and TV presenter Anna Williamson, who has appeared on This Morning, Good Morning Britain, Inside Out, Big Brother’s Bit on the Side and celebrity dating show Single AF, as well as being an ambassador for Mind, Childline and The Prince’s Trust, shares 10 tips to getting a better night’s sleep:
1. Firstly, remember you’re not alone: Being awake when it seems everyone else is asleep can feel the most lonely time. Rest assured it isn’t just you and take some comfort that there are others watching late night TV repeats too!
2. Choose a time: You might not have kept to a bedtime since you were a child, but it’s helpful to create a routine and a rough ideal of when you want to be in bed. That way you’re one step ahead and will avoid a potential rush to bed, which can cause you to become flustered and worrying about how much sleep you are going to get.
3. Ban technology: Phones, tablets, laptops etc all stimulate the mind and therefore hinder sleep taking over. Keep screens out of the bedroom and invest in an alarm clock to act as your wake up call.
4. Prepare for sleep: Help to reduce any anxiety and stress by creating a bedtime routine. A warm bath with relaxing oils, low level lighting and a warm (not caffeinated drink) can all help set the mood.
5. Write a to-do list: Limit all whirling thoughts by writing them down! This will get any niggles or worries out of your head and onto paper. In doing so, this can help in letting any angst go and will result in a more restful sleep.
6. Listen to music: Choosing the right song is key. Go for something soothing, relaxing and calming as it really can help in promoting positive, happy and anxiety-free feelings.
7. Breathe: When we’re anxious we don’t breathe properly. Deep breathing is important so really focus on breathing slowly in through your nose for seven seconds and then out through your mouth for 11 seconds. This will naturally help calm you down, thus making you more likely to sleep.
8. Avoid alcohol and caffeine: Anxiety’s nemesis. Keep clear of all stimulants as these will only hinder your sleep in the long run. Opt for a herbal tea instead.
9. Do something boring: If you can’t sleep or wake up in the night and can’t get back to sleep, don’t reward your brain by watching a gripping TV show. Instead, pick a really boring task! You’re far more likely to tire quicker and fall asleep if the task is boring.
10. Exercise: This is proven to help promote sleep and endorphins (happy chemicals which reduce anxiety). So why not try to take some gentle/moderate exercise before bed? Perhaps a walk, yoga class, or swim.
• Breaking Mum and Dad: The Insider’s Guide to Parenting Anxiety by Anna Williamson is published by Green Tree, £12.99, from www.amazon.co.uk
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