You are currently viewing What Really Works When You’re Too Anxious to Fall Asleep

What Really Works When You’re Too Anxious to Fall Asleep

Having troubles falling asleep can be dreadful. As a good night’s sleep is essential for our physical and mental wellbeing, being sleep deprived for wellbeing a long time can affect our health. Sleep deprivation combined with stress and anxiety is a winning combination to further health complications. But what can you do when you can’t fall asleep?

Instead of searching for advice on what you shouldn’t do before bed, you can check out these 12 tips that will help you fall asleep even when you’re feeling anxious. So, give them a try and be patient!

1. Rethink your bedtime schedule

One of the most common reasons because you can’t fall asleep usually isn’t anxiety. It’s the fact that you’re not tired yet! If your wide awake and don’t feel sleepy at all, there’s no use in jumping in your sheets just because it’s your bedtime. Maybe it’s time to rethink your sleeping schedule, even if that means staying up later.

Many people confuse anxiety with a racing awake mind. If you’re not feeling sleepy, your mind keeps coming up with various thoughts and images to keep you awake. Instead of forcing yourself to fall asleep, try going to bed later, once you feel tired.

2. Warm shower or bath

A lot of people avoid taking a shower before bed because they have a feeling it will refresh them and wake them up. Even though this can be true in some cases, if you take a bath at least one hour before your bedtime, hot water will help you relax and get rid of unnecessary stress.

Shower or bathe with warm water and devote some time to yourself. It can be a thorough skincare routine, nail painting or anything that will help you relax. You can put some facemask, close your eyes and rewind. Once you’re finished with your ritual, you can peacefully head to bed.

3. Identify your worries

Sometimes the main reason why we can’t fall asleep is that we worry too much. People who are prone to anxiety tend to overthink situations they are worried about which sends their brain in the fight or flight mode which keeps them awake at night. Even though controlling anxiety is nowhere near easy, identifying your worries may help you cope.

Can you find the source of your worries? Is it the test, date, very important meeting or something else? As overthinking won’t help you calm down, finding the root of your anxiety might. This will help you reason with yourself and accept that whatever happens, happens!

4. Leave your problems for tomorrow you

Is your mind overflowing with tasks, assignments and things you’ll have to do in the next couple of days? That may be a great source of anxiety for you, especially if you’re usually a nervous person. This might be keeping you up all night. However, there is no use in thinking about the things that are yet to come. So, leave future problems for future you.

Even though it may seem like a scary thing to do, rely on yourself. You’ve handled difficult situations before; you’ll handle them now too. Before you go to bed tell yourself that work and other tasks aren’t your worries now. If that doesn’t work, creating a to-do list and schedule before bed might help you feel less stressed about the structure of your day.

5. Put your phone away

Not to sound like a complete boomer, but putting your phone and other electronic devices away before you go to bed may help you sleep better. Did you know that a lot of people use their phones as a distraction from anxiety? If that’s the case with you, try to find other interesting things to do that will distract you until the unpleasant feeling of anxiety goes away.

On top of that, the blue light that shines from our electronic devices is horrible for our eyes. It makes our eyes feel tired, yet it wakes our brains up. Put your phone away and turn on the do not disturb mode while you’re sleeping.

6. Try breathing exercises

If you think that counting sheep is a thing of the past and that it doesn’t work, you’re ready to meet its modern and up to date cousin- breathing exercises. This is not another positive mind, positive body thing that doesn’t work. In fact, breathing exercises are known to slow down your heart rate, help you focus on your breath and slowly fall asleep!

As numerous variations of breathing exercises exist, you can find the one that suits you the most. Common ones include the wave of breath and counting as you breathe in and breathe out. Maybe this kind of activity can help you relax and let go of your worries.

7. Be careful what you consume before bed

You probably already know that consuming caffeine before bed can not only make you stay up all night but make you feel jittery and anxious. Therefore, avoiding caffeinated beverages and sugary drinks is recommended before bed. On top of that, even though alcohol makes you feel drowsy, it certainly affects the quality of your sleep which won’t help your anxiety. But what can you consume?

Drinking a glass of water before bed is recommended to help you calm down, reduce your heart rate and keep you hydrated. Additionally, warm tea can be the best source of melatonin and relaxation before bed. Besides that, try not to eat a lot before bed.

8. Get out of bed

Laying in bed for 20 to 30 minutes before you fall asleep is natural. Keep in mind that some people may take longer or shorter than that. It depends on many factors, such as tiredness, the nervous system, etc. However, if you haven’t fallen asleep in the first hour, get out of bed.

You may think that forcing yourself to sleep by staying in bed is a good technique. However, you’ll only get frustrated and your mind will start associating your bed with being awake. So, if you can’t fall asleep for a longer time, get out of bed and go to a different room. Try folding laundry or cleaning your drawer to reduce the stress. Once you start feeling sleepy, head to bed.

9. Engage your mind

Why would you engage your mind if it’s already racing? How does that make sense? The thing is, your mind is occupied with different thoughts, worries, stress and anticipation. Content like that won’t help you fall asleep. Instead, try to engage your mind in different ways. How?

If you’re a bookworm, reading a book before bed might help you relax. However, you shouldn’t pick up an exciting book you enjoy as it will keep you up longer! On the other hand, you can do various puzzles, like sudoku or crosswords to relax your mind and drive your thoughts away from anxiety.

10. Do yoga before bed

Most people do physical activities in the morning to help them wake up. Then why should you do yoga before bed? Even though it doesn’t make sense at the first glance, relaxing yoga exercises and meditation music can help you doze off in the land of dreams. How is that possible?

As yoga combines stretching, breathing exercises in relaxation, it can help you reduce stress and anxiety before going to bed. It will boost your circulation, which will create a fuzzy warm feeling in your body that helps you relax. By doing yoga for better sleep, you’re increasing the chances of a better night’s sleep, keeping your body physically active and stretching the stress away after the long day.

11. Cosy room design

Not every reason why you can’t sleep lies in your thoughts or behaviour. Did you know that certain colours, temperature, light and even scents can cause anxiety? So, maybe the reason why you’re anxious and can’t fall asleep hides in your room. So, what can you do to make it better?

Choose neutral colours for walls and keep your bed as cosy as possible. Even though adding more pillows and cushions may make it seem comfier, clutter in your bed may be the cause of your anxiety. Also, try to block out the light coming from outside. Get modern curtains to match your interior to sleep more peacefully. In the end, don’t forget to put on crisp sheets and comfy covers.

12. Write down your thoughts

Last, but not least, writing down your thoughts before bed can help you remind yourself of all the positive things that happened throughout the day and process all the negative. If you don’t feel like writing, doodling can help express your emotions too! Just get them out of your system!

Writing down negative thoughts and throwing them away is one of the best ways to battle stress and anxiety. Keep in mind that thoughts and emotions are not permanent. They come and pass, so if you write them down and throw them away, you’re ready to move on and focus on more positive and relaxing things.


In the end, if you’re still feeling anxious and are unable to sleep, maybe the best solution for you is to seek professional help. An experienced psychotherapist will help you battle your anxiety and minimise its negative effects on the quality of your life. 

Photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels.