Author Note: This article is part of a collection from the previously lost Bordering Bears website, and has thus been re-uploaded and archived.
Anxiety is one demon that plagues people from time to time. It can catch you in an already-uncomfortable situation, but also pop up out of the blue when you were, until that moment, feeling otherwise calm.
For me, the anxiety gets worse at night. I lay in bed, I try to sleep and remember that time when…
No. No brain. Don’t go there. Please.
But there was that time you said…
Thanks. Now I’m thinking on something that happened years ago.
Oh! And what about when?
It feels like a form of torture, a playreel of all the worst things I’ve ever said, any regrets, things that will upset me.
Let’s throw in some Daddy issues.
Anxiety isn’t fun. What is meant to be an instinctive fight or flight mechanism stops me from getting a decent amount of sleep.
You may also feel it too. You’re trying to nod off and something sparks in your brain that gets you overthinking, and the next thing you know it’s 1am and you are still awake, staring at the wall.
It’s quiet, no one is awake to aid you, and you have nothing but silence and your own thoughts. These can quickly build up into a tempest of worry and concern.
There are methods that reduce the impact of anxiety, but it can be fairly difficult to implement them in the moment, particularly if you’re having a severe night. Either way, it’s still worthwhile to try.
Something that can take your mind off of the anxious thoughts is always a good idea. This isn’t you burying your head in the sand. This is more ensuring adequate rest. Different methods of grounding work for different people.
Personally, I recite prime numbers in my head to regain focus and clarity. After a few, I have to really think as to whether or not a number is prime, meaning that draws my attention as opposed to my worries.
Have a Clear Routine
Rather than binge watching or playing then attempting to sleep, more of a routine might help. I will admit I am definitely one for bingeing, which is probably a contributing factor to my sleep problems.
Some nights, if I can’t sleep, I will read for a while. This, to me, helps me to get into a relaxed state enough to sleep.
Research shows that, if you have the same wind-down routine each night, you are more likely to train yourself into knowing when to sleep. Small things can aid, such as always brushing your teeth at the same time, or turning off your light at exactly 10 pm each night.
I have found that exercising really does help. On days Feena and I would go for a long trek in the woods, or that I did more physically in general, I would feel more of a need to sleep than on sedentary days.
Obviously, working from home as a writer, most of my day is spent sitting. This is why it is so vital to ensure I do get out.
Don’t get me wrong, motivating to actually do the “moving thing” can be a nightmare. As I’ve mentioned before, I struggle with motivation at times. Yet, afterwards, it feels so good. That little ache in the legs, as well as all the fresh air. Trust me, it’s worth it. Even more of a bonus is that I sleep better too.
Don’t Go to Bed on a Low
I try to always resolve issues before sleep. Feena had a bad day? Go in and give her one last kiss and cuddle to reassure the both of us that, although I may not be happy with her, she is loved. Argument with someone? Send a message or call to say that, while there was a disagreement, I still value them and love them. Been crying? Drink some water and ensure I’m calm before attempting to sleep.
If you can rectify a situation, even partly, it can help you with both your sleep and anxiety.
Overall, nighttime anxiety is a total pain in the arse, but, it happens. There’s ways you can try to prevent it both beforehand and in the moment. If need be, speak to members of your support network to discuss whether it would be okay to call someone or wake up someone you live with if you find you are unable to self-soothe.
For any anxiety problems, or if you feel your current conditions are getting worse, it is always best to speak to a medical professional.