Do you find yourself lying awake at night, staring at the ceiling, wishing you could just go to sleep? Have you ever wondered what it is that makes you stay wide awake even when you feel exhausted? I’m willing to bet that sleep anxiety of some kind is behind your insomnia. We have to acknowledge our sensitivity to the our surroundings. Our internal clocks can be disrupted by ongoing stress of almost any kind – and women today have many kinds of chronic stress to contend with.
In times of unrelenting stress, women can experience adrenal dysfunction and eventually become cortisol dominant. High cortisol can actually change our normal sleep cycling and reduce the amount of restorative (REM) sleep you experience.
If you’re struggling with insomnia, one of the first things to do is to look at what is really causing stress in your life – is it a family member? Too much to do in a day? Chronic dieting? Your job? Sometimes writing things down helps bring them into your awareness and then you can start to problem solve.
The good news is that once you have identified this type of insomnia pattern, there are steps you can take to restore your normal rhythm! Remember that insomnia is a symptom of what else is going on in your life.
How to Sleep at Night with Sleep Anxiety
Here are 5 ways to address the stress that is keeping you up at night:
- Eat well! I recommend that women eat three meals and two snacks per day. This helps keep blood sugar levels stable – putting less of a burden on your body. Consider reducing or eliminating sugar, caffeine, gluten and alcohol from your diet.
- Exercise mindfully. If you don’t exercise, consider starting a regime so that your body feels physically tired. Pick something you enjoy – walking, dancing, biking, yoga – anything that feels good to you!
- Consider adrenal testing. Talk with a qualified healthcare professional to see if testing is right for you.
- Try herbs and nutrients that support sleep naturally. Taking a magnesium and calcium supplement before bed can be very helpful for some women. Chamomile, valerian and passionflower have been used for a long time to support sleep.
- Establish a bedtime routine. Try going to bed and waking up at the same time every day – and remember that we need seven to nine hours sleep a night. Turn off all electronics at least one hour before bed.
While insomnia can be frustrating for many women, you can break the cycle and regain your sleep by trying some of these simple tips. You may be surprised at the difference just a change or two makes!