It’s not uncommon to get into bed at night, turn off the lights, lie there for a little while and then start panicking that you’re still awake. You’ve got so much to do tomorrow – why aren’t you asleep yet? If you don’t get to sleep will everything go wrong? You’re not alone – more than 40 million Americans suffer from chronic sleep disorders, and a further 20 million report occasional problems.

Stress and anxiety can cause sleep deprivation, or it can be caused by it, and an existing anxiety disorder only exacerbates the problem. It’s a vicious cycle. If you’re determined to conquer your sleep disorder, you should first try some tried-and-true methods of winding down and relaxing at the end of the day to prepare your brain for sleep:

Meditate

You can do this alone or use a video or app to guide you. Focus on your breathing and visualization. 

Exercise

Regular exercise and yoga will help you sleep at night, regardless of when you do the exercise. However, you may find it useful to exercise in the evening before dinner so you are tired and ready to go to bed when that time rolls around. 

Take the Pressure Off

Remember that lying down quietly in bed and letting your body rest will refresh you for the next day, even if you don’t achieve sleep. Often, taking the pressure off yourself will help you fall asleep. 

Make a To-Do List Before Bed

Do you get into bed and have everything you need to do tomorrow flying around your head? Instead of allowing this to happen, get out a notebook before bed and hand-write all of the things you need to do out in a notebook so you can let go of the list in your head and relax, knowing you can get to it as soon as you wake up. 

Play Music or a Podcast 

Find soothing music or a podcast with hosts who have soothing voices and listen to it quietly as you fall asleep. A podcast will help you turn off your own thoughts and you can fall asleep naturally. Some apps (such as Audible) have a timer that will pause your audiobook or podcast after a certain amount of time. 

If you’ve tried all the recommended methods of overcoming your anxiety and insomnia and still suffer at night, what are you supposed to do? 

Sleep Apnea Treatment

Patients who have suspected sleep apnea often go to clinics to have their sleep observed, and a doctor helps them treat their symptoms. These sleep clinics may also be able to help you with your sleep deprivation and insomnia. Often, just knowing you have the help of a professional will help relieve some of the anxiety, and they may be able to offer you a medical solution that will help solve your sleep problems. 

A message from Dr. Amy Hartsfield: At TMJ & Sleep Solutions of Alabama, our mission is to provide personalized care to restore quality of life, one patient at a time. If you are experiencing issues with sleep, don’t hesitate to contact us and schedule an appointment!