Anxiety is a tidal wave that engulfs the mind, body and soul. It causes our mind to race, the stomach to churn and the feeling of dread and uncertainty to linger.
Anxiety affects us in many ways including suppressing our appetite to stopping us from getting a good night’s sleep. And when we do finally nod off, sleep is anything but restful, our night-time full of nightmares.
And the things that can cause us anxiety vary. From your wedding day to your annual dental check-up, to an exam to your driving test, to the first day of a new job, there are a myriad of events and situation that lead us to feel uncertain and panicked.
Sleep, as we know, is essential but it is especially important when we have something to face, be that the happiest day of your life or an event that you are dreading. So how can you stop the whirring mind and the churning stomach, how can you slow your thoughts from warp speed and become relaxed and calmed enough to fall to sleep? And how can you ensure that the sleep you have before the next day is calm and restful with no nightmares, just happy dreams?
It’s a tall order, but we think we have some great ideas that work…
#1 The Long Soak and the Long Read
This is the bad news: ditch the phone, the tablet and the laptop and keep your evening ritual calm. If you have a bath, why not enjoy a long warm soak (not hot) and enjoy the latest best seller. Don’t go for anything overly dramatic or horror, just enjoy a novel with a calm and gentle story.
Avoid anything that is overly stimulating but not necessarily out of your ordinary routine. Some people do have a TV in their bedroom and enjoy watching a documentary or other programme as they nod off to sleep.
Other people prefer half an hour with their e-reader or paperback but here’s the thing; steer clear of your phone or tablet as the blue back light stimulates the brain, not what you want when you are trying to nod off before your big day.
#2 Pills and Potions
There are some pills and potions that can help lull you to sleep, or so they claim. But trying something new or taking medication that you are not used to could leave you in a worse state on your big day than if you went without a night’s sleep;
- Herbal sleep remedies – do they work? Some people swear by them but others say they have no effect. Is the night before your big day the time to experiment with such things? If you suffer a lot with anxiety, it is worth seeking help to deal with the crux of the problem rather than the symptom of lack of sleep.
- Sleep medication – doctors are no longer willing to prescribe sleeping pills as one-off answers to problems maybe because they can leave the patient feeling groggy the next day. It may be that you cannot drive the next day or operate machinery, an indication of how you could be affected.
- Lavender drops – some people swear by lavender as a means of helping them to fall into a restful sleep. Rather than knocking you out, lavender is a scent that helps to calm agitation and with the faint aroma of summer wafting around the bedroom, it can’t do any harm.
#3 Early Night (But not too early…)
Now here’s the thing – when we are faced with a momentous day on the morrow, we change our usual routine. We all know the importance of sleep and dive into bed and will sleep to come. But a combination of nerves, anxiety and excitement make it hard to nod off, even if you have counted a whole flock of sheep.
Sleep experts say that changing your night time regime to accommodate whatever project you have on the next day is the wrong thing to do. This is because this change in routine stimulates us to actually be more anxious or excited.
So, yes, by all means, have an early night but not too early. Enjoy your hot chocolate and a soak in the bath if that is what you normally do.
#4 What is REALLY Bothering You?
There are some people that suggest before you crawl under the covers on your super king size mattress and will sleep to come that you make a list of what is really bothering you.
Anxiety happens for many different reasons but it may be that you are worried about forgetting something important, like your coat or your umbrella, or that you will make a mess of the day. Making a list of what you need for the morning or before you leave the house is one way of helping you to manage your anxiety.
#5 Do You Normally Sleep Well?
For some people, anxiety is a reaction to a particular event such as their wedding day. For other people, it is a mental state that they find themselves in at certain times with no identifiable underlying course.
In the latter case, there is clearly a need to deal with this agitated state of mind and physicality. Calming measures such as yoga and meditation can help, as well as counselling and other cognitive therapies.
In the aforementioned case, a wedding, a job interview or other big event is something that will pass and thus, the anxiety you are feeling is a reaction to be overly stressed or excited. In some ways, not sleeping the night before is part and parcel of the whole experience and, say some experts, if you have been sleeping well in the weeks running up to the event, a night of only a few hours kip won’t mean you will run out of energy by lunch.
How well do you sleep? What works for you when you can’t sleep because you are anxious or excited?