Many people have difficulty falling asleep because they are chronically anxious. The anxiety can be caused by real-life situations, such as relationship trouble, difficulties at work, or money problems. Anxiety disorders also exist that have no basis in reality but cause insomnia just the same by producing an anxious thoughts or rapid heart rate. In such cases, it is a good idea to deal with the underlining anxiety so that you can find a quiet place in an otherwise disrupted mind in order to sleep.
Fortunately, many natural ways to deal with anxiety exist and can prevent a good night's sleep, some natural anxiety-relievers include:
- Tai Chi – Tai chi for health and wellness is an exercise that was developed from martial arts, but is actually performed in a very slow and meditative way. The slow movements in Tai Chi accompanied with deliberate breathing patterns induces relaxation naturally and can really help to alleviate the anxiety that prevails you from getting a good night's sleep.
- Meditation – actually is very easy to learn. You can buy a meditation CD or find a meditation exercise on YouTube. The concept and implementation is fairly simple. Find a comfortable place to sit or lie down. Turn off any external noise. You can close your eyes or let your eyes focus easily on an object. Focus on your breathing, breathing in and out through your nose and / or mouth, counting the breaths or just saying a syllable with each exhalation. A common syllable or “mantra” is the syllable “ohm.” You can use whatever syllable you feel comfortable saying.
Meditation works because it decrees anxiety, clears your mind of worries, leaving you calm and relaxed. You can also use meditation with guided imagery, in which you place yourself in a calm environment in your mind-somewhere like a beach or by a waterfall. In that space, you find emotional relaxation and peace so that you are uncluttered by the anxieties of the day.
- Exercise – Exercise releases energy, and can do wonders for feelings of anxiety. Moderate level activity, such as walking is recommended for insomnia and it also releases feel good neurotransmitters in the brain that result in positive feelings and reduction in anxiety that can cause disturbed sleep. It is recommended that everyone get at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise daily, and it's really important for those with insomnia that is caused by anxiety.
- Yoga – The practice of yoga is known to reduce anxiety. Yoga involves doing specific poses along with deep breathing. Several poses invoke relaxation and calm. Take a yoga class and talk to the yoga instructor about how you can use certain yoga poses before bedtime to get a better night's sleep. Regular and consistent practice of yoga has been shown to alleviate chronic anxiety, which can go a long way to improving one's overall quality of life, well-being, and sleep habits.
- Herbal remedies – There are multiple herbal remedies you can mix in tea form to drink before bedtime or any time you feel anxious. Passionflower is a good herb that has been found in some research studies to work as well as benzodiazepines (prescription sedatives) in the management of anxiety. It is also used in various concentrations in herbal sleep aids.
Lavender works both for anxiety and insomnia. A large study produced in 2010 that showed lavender oil worked as well as lorazepam (valium), a popular anti-anxiety medication. It seems to alleviate anxiety without the side effect of drowsiness so you can drink lavender tea or take a lavender supplement any time of the day. It is also used as aromatherapy oil for sleep and anxiety.
Lemon balm is usually used along with other anti-anxiety herbal remedies. It can also be used alone for the treatment of anxiety. Mood is improved, and anxiety is lessened after taking lemon balm when compared to a placebo medication.
Ashwagandha was studied in 2012 in a double blind, placebo-controlled study and it was found that those who took Ashwagandha had significant improvements in anxiety levels with reduced cortisol levels, often found in high stress states.
- L-theonine is an amino acid that works directly on brain tissue so that stress and anxiety are relieved without significant sedation. While it is not often used as a sleep aid, it can calm anxiety so that you can drift off to sleep faster and without side effects.
There are many choices for those who suffer from anxiety that interferes with sleep. While there are prescription medications available, they are highly addictive and they often make you feel groggy and unable to safely operate machinery or drive. While you should always follow your doctor's advice, it does not hurt to explore the many natural methods available to see if they can help you find calm and peace and alleviate your insomnia.