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Banish Nighttime Anxiety With These 5 Proven Sleep Hacks

Learn how to keep your anxiety at bay and get a good night's sleep.

Taylor Leamey Senior Writer
Taylor Leamey writes about all things wellness, specializing in mental health, sleep and nutrition coverage. She has invested hundreds of hours into studying and researching sleep and holds a Certified Sleep Science Coach certification from the Spencer Institute. Not to mention the years she spent studying mental health fundamentals while earning her bachelor's degrees in both Psychology and Sociology. She is also a Certified Stress Management Coach.
Expertise Sleep, Mental Health, Nutrition and Supplements Credentials
  • Certified Sleep Science Coach, Certified Stress Management Coach
Taylor Leamey
4 min read
Woman who is laying in bed awake and unhappy about it
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You're tired, but you're feeling too stressed to fall asleep. There's a simple biological explanation: Your autonomic nervous system is releasing the primary stress hormone cortisol to mediate your anxiety and try to protect you from danger. One side effect of cortisol, however, is that it keeps you awake.

Sleeping with anxiety can sometimes feel like a catch-22. Anxiety keeps you up, and insufficient sleep can amplify the symptoms of anxiety. Thankfully, there are ways to break the cycle and get quality sleep. Use these five simple strategies to manage your anxiety so it doesn't keep you up at night. 

Want more? We've got more. Find out the sleep anxiety trick a CNET editor swears by, how to curb Sunday scaries and how to fall asleep when anxious

Read more: Best Mental Health Apps

1. Make your nighttime routine a ritual

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Not only does a routine help you relax enough to fall asleep, but it also helps combat stress and reduces symptoms of anxiety. Your nighttime routine will help keep you focused on relaxation and sleep. Everyone's routine is going to look different. Maybe yours includes light yoga or an hour of journaling to reflect on your day. Whatever it is, it's important to stick to your nightly routine when you find it -- do it at the same time and in the same order each night. Completing tasks in your nightly routine will signal to your brain that it's time to start winding down for sleep.

Another mini tip within this tip: Don't lay in bed awake. If you climb into bed and find that you're not falling asleep, don't stay in bed. Instead, get up and do something relaxing, like read a book or take a bubble bath. The last thing you want to do is associate your bed with scrolling through social media or watching TV.

2. Don't drink too much

I know this one can be a bit of a bummer, but what you eat and drink can affect your anxiety and how you sleep. Caffeine relates to anxiety and sleep in two ways. First, too much caffeine can exacerbate feelings of anxiety. The second is the obvious one; caffeine keeps you awake. As a rule, you should avoid drinking caffeine for 6 hours before you go to bed. 

Alcohol can also affect your anxiety symptoms and sleep by throwing off your circadian rhythm. Even if you find it easier to fall asleep after a few cocktails, many people wake up a few hours later when their body metabolizes the alcohol. Avoid drinking alcohol at least 4 hours before you go to sleep.

3. Use a meditation app

Meditation apps are a quick and easy way to help yourself relax and fall asleep. Research shows that meditation can reduce stress and anxiety levels. It also reduces your blood pressure and heart rate. With the best meditation apps, you choose from guided meditations, deep breathing exercises or calming stories. There are a ton of options out there. Top meditation apps even have guided segments from celebrities like Harry Styles or Idris Elba.

Woman sleeping on a couch with a weighted blanket
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4. Add a weighted blanket to your bed

Weighted blankets have been found to be an effective way to help calm anxiety and help you fall asleep, thanks to what's called deep-pressure stimulation. A 2020 study found that people who use a weighted blanket have lower rates of insomnia and anxiety. Using a weighted blanket isn't the only thing you should do, but it is an easy way to integrate comfort into your nightly routine. You can choose from the hundreds of options on the market or even make your own weighted blanket. 

Weighted blankets are a must if you live with anxiety. If you're in the market for one, try the Luna Weighted Blanket. We consider it the best overall weighted blanket because it's soft and breathable. 


5. Acknowledge your anxiety

All the tips in the world won't help you sleep easier with anxiety if you don't acknowledge you're feeling anxious. Whatever you're feeling -- stressed, scared or worried -- accept it so you can address it. 

It's a good idea to try to incorporate stress-relieving activities into your daily routine to help keep things from building up at night. Try a daily walk or other exercises to reduce anxiety. There's no set time frame for when you'll start falling asleep faster -- it likely won't be instantaneous. However, if you find that your anxiety is continually getting the best of your sleep, it may be time to talk to someone

The sleep advice doesn't end here. Also see the seven natural sleep aids for insomnia, which foods to eat to make you tired and why you should prioritize your sleep needs. 

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.