remedies for insomnia

How to combat Anxiety and Insomnia

Now, more than ever we are living in very trying times.  We have been born into a world where everybody wants to get ahead in a fast-paced society.  This together with financial worries, relationship issues and many worldwide concerns can sometimes get the better of even the most well-adjusted people.

Symptoms of Anxiety

Unfortunately, many people have battled anxiety at some stage in their lives.  Typical symptoms of anxiety can include, tension, fear, worrying all the time, irritability and muscle tension. In extreme cases even heart palpitations and chest tightness can occur which can sometimes feel almost like you are having a heart attack.

Anxiety also causes sleeping problems and insomnia.  Sleep deprivation worsens anxiety. This becomes a vicious battle of one issue continually feeding on the other and therefore making anxiety and insomnia extremely hard to overcome. Cortisol is a stress hormone that increases when you are anxious.  But how do you decrease this hormone in your body? You have probably heard it all before.  You are told to exercise, maintain a healthy diet and get enough sleep.  But how do you do this when you are suffering from a bad bout of anxiety! 

Treat the anxiety to alleviate the Insomnia

Here are some valuable tips to help combat your anxiety:

Try to maintain a good sense of humor

It doesn’t make sense that you would maintain a good sense of humor if you are battling anxiety, but did you know that laughing increases a chemical in the brain called Dopamine?  This chemical creates feelings of happiness and pleasure and interestingly enough even letting off a fake laugh now and again is able to release some Dopamine into the brain.

Relax

It is very important to find the time to do at least half an hour of something every day that relaxes you.  This could be walking, reading, meditation or yoga.  Ultimately it does not matter what it is, as long as it relaxes you. Research has proven that a period of relaxation helps to reduce your heart rate significantly.

Use some Lavender

Lavender is an easily accessible essential oil and has been known about for decades for its calming abilities.  A drop of lavender on your neck, or in the bath creates a very relaxing and calming odor.

Distract yourself

This may sound crazy, but distraction is sometimes the best way to relieve anxiety. Pick up some weights and hold them for as long as you can, hold an ice block until your hand feels numb, or even start spring cleaning the cupboard that you have been meaning to sort out for months.  Your brain cannot be in two places at once and activities such as these can help distract you from any anxious feelings you may be experiencing.

Take Natural Supplements

GABA is a short term for gamma-aminobutyric acid.  This supplement can be found in health stores and can help with anxiety.  It helps to increase glutamate in the brain which in turn increases feelings of excitement and happiness. Always remember to consult your doctor before taking any kind of supplement or medication as some supplements can interfere adversely with other medications. Also take a look at our more detailed suggestions on how to use natural remedies for insomnia.

Get enough sleep

Various studies have concluded that a lack of sleep plays a huge role in activating regions in the brain that cause excessive worrying and oversee emotional processing.  It is essential to get regular sleep when suffering with anxiety.  This, however, is easier said than done.  

How to get a good night’s sleep and combat Anxiety induced Insomnia

  1.  It is important to keep in sync with your body’s natural sleep and wake cycle.  In order to do this, it is important to train your body to go to sleep and get up at the same time every day.  Keep napping during the day to a minimum and avoid sleeping in.  If you are feeling drowsy after dinner do not allow yourself to go to sleep until it is time for you to go to bed.
  2. When you wake up in the morning open your curtains and blinds and let the sunlight in.  Once awake try to spend some time outdoors in the sun.
  3. Blue light exposure tricks your brain into thinking that it is daytime and should be eliminated completely when it is time to go to sleep. Turn off televisions, laptops and any other devices that you have in your home before bedtime.
  4. Caffeine stays in your blood for 6-8 hours and worsens sleep quality.  Try to have your last caffeinated beverage before 4pm.  Even better would be to start drinking beverages that contain no caffeine.
  5. Some natural supplements can help with relaxation and help you to fall asleep.  These include Ginkgo biloba, Glycine, Magnesium, L-theanine and lavender.  It is important to remember to always consult with your physician before taking any supplements especially if you are already taking certain medications.
  6. The quality of your bed can go a long way in affecting your sleep.  If you have been sleeping on the same mattress for several years, it may be time to invest in a new one.  Studies have revealed that sleeping on a new mattress can reduce back pain, shoulder pain and stiffness and improve sleep quality by up to 60%.
  7. Poor quality bedding can add to insomnia. Give some thought to upgrading your bedding if you have not done so for a while. Studies have revealed that new bedding can add to sleep enhancement.
  8. Weighted blankets are an amazing and therapeutic aid used to enhance the ability to have a good night’s rest.  These blankets provide benefits via deep pressure therapy which activates the parasympathetic nervous system.  A weighted blanked makes a person feel like they are being swaddled or held. This lowers your heart rate when you are stressed and helps to improve sleep as well as calm your body during feelings of restlessness, which in turn reduces anxiety and aids in the sleeping process.  

Adjust your diet to help you sleep better

It is important to eat a balanced diet enriched with carbohydrates, proteins and fats.  Whole foods such as fruit, vegetables, fish, legumes, grains, and lean meat are best to consume in order to maximize your mental and physical health. Remember to always drink plenty of water in addition to your balanced diet.  

Incorporate these foods into your diet to ease sleeplessness and anxiety:

Fatty fish

  • Fatty fish contains Omega-3 fatty acids which support mental health as well as cognitive function which in turn assists with sleeping patterns.
  • Try to have at least two servings a week of fatty fish such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, shrimp or trout.
  • Food rich in Omega-3 fatty acids contain ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) which regulates the neuro transmissions in your brain, reduces inflammation and promotes healthy brain function.

Eggs

  • Eggs contain an amino acid called tryptophan which creates serotonin. 
  • Serotonin helps to regulate mood, behavior and memory.  It can also help to improve brain function and relieve sleep disorders.

Vitamin D

  • Vitamin D is believed to help combat depression and improve mood. Foods containing vitamin D, include dairy products, cheese, soy milk and cereals.
  • Researchers believe that a Vitamin D deficiency can be directly related to insomnia, restlessness and poor quality of sleep. 

 Brazil Nuts 

  • These nuts contain selenium.  Selenium is an antioxidant which has been proven to improve your mood, reduce inflammation and prevent cell damage.  
  • Brazil nuts are also an excellent source of Vitamin E which is a wonderful antioxidant proven to be beneficial in the fight against anxiety and sleep disorders. Try to keep the consumption of these nuts to about three or four a day as too much selenium may cause adverse side effects.

Chamomile and Green tea

  • Chamomile tea is a wonderful drink for young and old alike.  It has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and relaxant properties and has been found to reduce symptoms of insomnia.   
  • Green Tea contains theanine which is an amino acid known to have anti-anxiety and calming affects by increasing the production of serotonin and dopamine in the brain.
  • Both types of tea are readily available and safe to use in high doses.

If you or a loved one are facing anxiety and insomnia it is important to show compassion and awareness.  We live in trying times and anxiety and Insomnia can be a daily struggle for many adults and children.  Following these tips can go a long way in helping to combat anxiety and insomnia.  Remember that life is only lived once so it is important to live your best life. 

“The purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” – Eleanor Roosevelt