How to Navigate Nighttime Anxiety?

  • Post last modified:December 19, 2023
  • Post category:Counseling

Nighttime anxiety is a common experience and can be part of a cycle that is difficult to disrupt. 

Nighttime anxiety can look like replaying difficult moments of the day, worrying about things to come, or fear about household security or stress about many other things. Anxiety can keep you from a restful sleep which then affects your resilience to stress the next day, possibly leading to higher levels of anxiety the following night. 

The demanding lifestyles in our society leave little room for self and co-regulation. Most people spend their waking hours working, preparing for work, and caring for their families and households. The time that heads hit the pillow might often be the first and only time of the day that many people have a moment to process and integrate their experiences. This need to process conflicts with the need to rest and can lead to anxious feelings. The demands of daily life for many raise stress levels and make calming a challenge. 

There are simple and accessible ways to help soothe the body and mind at nighttime. Try to integrate one or more of these practices into your bedtime or daily routine and see if it supports your healthy sleep habits. If these types of interventions don’t seem to be sufficient for calming your nighttime anxiety, seeking therapy may be the next step. 

Tips to soothe nighttime anxiety:

  • Weighted blanket
    • Try a weighted blanket over your core to help relax the nervous system.
  • Heating pad
    • A heating pad or hot water bottle can help relax muscles and lull you to sleep.
  • Limiting caffeine intake
    • Caffeine can disrupt sleep. Try modifying the time of day you have coffee, or changing the amount of caffeine you consume. 
  • Limiting alcohol intake
    • Relying on alcohol and other substances may have long term effects that lower quality of sleep and make sleep less restorative. 
  • Bedtime Tea
    • Herbs like chamomile, passionflower, and lavender can help soothe the body from the inside and are safe for most populations. Always check with your doctor before trying new herbs and supplements, especially if you may be vulnerable to them. 
  • Exercise (check with your primary physician before starting any exercising routine)
    • Exercising well during the day can help to complete the stress response and leave the body feeling ready for rest at bedtime. 
  • Journaling
    • Writing out what is on your mind at bedtime can be an effective way to satisfy your worry. By getting thoughts out of your head you may be able to let them go and settle in for a restful sleep. 

We hope you find these simple and accessible ways beneficial to soothe the body and mind at nighttime.