Tossing & turning – how to manage anxiety

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Anxiety and sleep are not friends. They struggle to co-exist in the same bed. Feeling anxious or worried actually causes certain hormones to be released from the brain that set you up for a difficult time falling asleep as well as poor quality sleep. Grinding your teeth, tossing back and forth, sleep talking and nightmares are all associated with sleep disturbance and are often related to anxiety.

Here are the Sleep Experts top three anxiety-busting, sleep remedies - all are cheap and easy to implement which is one less thing to worry about.

1. Progressive muscle relaxation - this is a clever technique that reverses the effects of worry on your body. In your bed lie on your back with your legs straight and your arms at your side. Close your eyes or keep them open if this makes you feel anxious. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth as slowly and rhythmically as you can. When you can feel that your heart rate and breathing have slowed down point your right foot as hard as you can as your breathe in. Relax your foot as your breathe out. Now squeeze your right leg muscles as tight as you can (as you breathe in) and (relax your leg as you breathe out). Move onto the other side of your body in the same way- relax and contract your left foot, left leg, then your right fist, right arm, left fist, left arm, shoulders and finally face. The key is to keep your breathing slow and rhythmical despite the muscle contractions.

This technique works as it increases the oxygen in your blood stream, calms your nervous system and relaxes your muscles. These are all changes that need to occur as you are falling asleep. Do not rush through this technique but enjoy the feeling of your muscles relaxing.

2. Chamomile - Chamomile is a herbal plant that has been used to promote sleep for centuries. Used as a tea it is a soothing brew that warms the body and decreases pain and inflammation. Chamomile tea can be bought as tea leaves or as tea bags. Too bitter for your taste? Try a mix of rooibos and chamomile. Alternatively, use as an aromatherapy oil in your bath or as a massage oil to prep your mind and body for a great night sleep.

3. Keep a gratitude journal - Write down five things you are grateful for each night before you try to fall asleep.  Ponder the good rather than the bad. Thinking happy thoughts and writing them down helps change your thought process. In addition, smiling and laughing stimulates the release of dopamine and endorphins which crush anxiety. A journal can also help you challenge unrealistic thoughts as you look back and read about all the great things that have happened rather than worrying about the bad things that could happen.




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