Have you ever had an interrupted night’s sleep or only received a few hours due to meeting a deadline or being out late with friends? Did you feel energized and ready to take on the next day, or were you relying on coffee to get you through?
When we sleep, our bodies work to rest and recover after a long day.
The body takes this time to process the information and memories we encountered throughout the daytime. A good night’s sleep is key for emotional and physical well-being as well as a strong immune system.
General recommendations suggest seven to eight hours of sleep every night for the average adult, and if you aren’t regularly meeting this recommendation, your mental health could be taking a hit.
Sleep and mental health are practically one and the same. If you are consistently getting insufficient sleep at night, this can affect your mood and may increase anxiety.
If your anxiety keeps you up at night, this can become a vicious cycle — anxiety interferes with sleep, and the lack of sleep can worsen anxiety.
Read on as ASYSTEM explores how your sleeping position can aid your anxiety and other ways to get a good night’s sleep in spite of anxious feelings.
How Do the Main Sleep Positions Impact Anxiety?
Believe it or not, the position you sleep in could be helping your anxiety — or exacerbating it. Let’s take a look at the most common sleep positions, and how they might be affecting your anxiety.
On Your Back
Back sleeping is widely considered to be the best position for your spine, because it does not curve or fold your body. Because of this, back sleeping may be beneficial for your anxiety, too.
When you wake up without pain or tension in your neck, back, or elsewhere, it can help you feel more ready to tackle the day ahead.
Just make sure your pillows are not propped up too high, causing extra pressure on the lower back. A pillow that has some fluff but still allows the neck to remain as neutral as possible is essential for preventing neck pain.
On Your Side
Also known as fetal position, side sleeping is the most recommended sleep position for pregnant women. However, this position does have the potential to cause a misaligned spine or neck, which might mean you wake up feeling some pain.
Using a pillow in between your knees to keep your hips in alignment and prevent back pain can help you get a better night of sleep. Sleeping on your left side may even ease symptoms of certain health conditions, which can help soothe feelings of anxiety.
On Your Stomach
Though sleeping on your stomach may be comfortable at first, this is considered the worst sleeping position. Stomach sleeping causes the spine and neck to be misaligned, and thus can cause back and neck pain. Stomach sleepers may also find themselves constantly turning their head from side to side to get comfortable, which can interfere with a night of continuous sleep.
Stomach sleepers may experience unnecessary pressure on the low back and, over time, a weakening of different areas of the body that have been compromised. Thus, it might be worth avoiding sleeping on your stomach if you are hoping to wake up with a calm mind.
How Can I Calm My Mind Before Bed?
There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to anxiety.
Anxiety can be caused by anything perceived to be stressful, dangerous, or life-altering. Each of us has different life experiences and thus may experience anxiety triggered by different things.
However, anxiety can cause a sense of unease, nervousness, and lack of focus in any situation. These symptoms can certainly make it difficult to get a restful night of sleep.
Fortunately, there are plenty of strategies that may help you calm your mind before bed and enjoy a good night’s sleep.
Here are just a few ways to wind down, prepare for sleep, and improve your sleep quality.
Making sure you get enough sunshine by spending time outside aids the body in its natural circadian rhythm for better sleep. Aim for at least 30 minutes of sunlight a day to get some vitamin D the natural way and regulate your natural sleep patterns.
Be Mindful of Naps
If you tend to nap to catch up on sleep, be sure to keep the naps short and no more than one hour to prevent sleep problems later in the night. It can also be helpful to avoid napping late in the afternoon, which can lead to excessive energy when nighttime comes around.
Reduce Caffeine Intake
When it becomes hard to sleep at night, it can be normal to reach for caffeine during the day as a means of staying awake and focused. However, that caffeine may be doing more harm than good.
Not only can caffeine contribute to sleeplessness later in the day, but it may even be contributing to your anxiety. The coffee may not be worth it if it impacts your ability to snooze later on.
Try to limit your intake to one cup of coffee a day, and avoid drinking coffee after 3pm.
Avoid Eating Too Close to Bedtime
It can take food a few hours to fully digest, so be sure to eat dinner at an appropriate time to give your digestive system plenty of time to feel relaxed before crawling into bed. This may also help reduce nighttime heartburn, reflux, or GERD symptoms.
Put Down Your Phone
Phones, computers and televisions emit a blue light that affects our natural body clocks. It is recommended to put away electronics a minimum of one hour before bed to give the body time to decompress. When people use electronics late at night or answer messages in the middle of the night, they are more likely to get inadequate sleep.
Get into a healthy habit of putting your phone in the other room, turning it completely off or even no airplane mode.
Good sleep hygiene is crucial to better rest. Try winding down before bed by reading, taking a bath, or journaling if you need something to do for those last few moments before you drift off to sleep. The right nighttime routine can make a world of difference.
Try Sleep Gummies
Sometimes, lifestyle changes might not always be enough to help your anxious mind get to sleep. If this is the case for you, ASYSTEM can help.
ASYSTEM Sleep Gummies are available either with or without Melatonin so your needs are taken care of.
Melatonin is naturally made in the body to help regulate our sleep-wake cycle. But sometimes, life can throw off this natural hormone, and our bodies may need some extra support.
If you are having issues falling or staying asleep, our Sleep Gummies with Melatonin might be the perfect choice for you. However, if you are sensitive to Melatonin supplements and want a gentler approach, our Melatonin-free option may be perfect.
Sleep Gummies with Melatonin include clinically proven Persian Saffron, Melatonin, Chamomile and Passion Flower extract, and rhodiola extract, to name a few.
This powerful combination of herbs has been proven to help with sleep quality, staying asleep throughout the night, calming the mind, and allowing you to wake up without feeling groggy.
Our Melatonin-Free Sleep Gummies contain L-Tryptophan instead of Melatonin. L-Tryptophan is an essential amino acid used to help the body synthesize serotonin.
How Can I Make My Bedroom More Calming for Sleep?
Do you feel comfortable in your bedroom? Do you look forward to entering this space and treating it like a sanctuary? The space you lay your body to rest, to recharge and refuel for the next day?
If you deal with anxiety disorders or panic attacks, making your bedroom conducive to relaxation can help you sleep more easily and wake up feeling rested.
Adding plants and greenery to the room can help to purify the air while also creating a more soothing environment in your bedroom.
You should also check the lighting. If you have windows offering natural light, rely on that sunlight as much as possible. Certain types of lightbulbs, such as fluorescent, can actually interfere with your body's natural circadian rhythm — thus, natural light may be the anxiety relief you are seeking.
You can also replace old mattresses and pillows when it is time to give your space a fresh appearance and feel — and your bed an upgrade!
If you struggle to sleep due to anxiety, it can be helpful to explore the ways your sleeping position may be contributing. Sleeping on your back is largely believed to be the best for both physical and mental wellbeing. Back sleeping keeps your spine and neck neutral, meaning you can wake up with less pain or pressure in these areas.
Back sleeping helps prevent excess pressure in these areas of the body, which can help you get better quality sleep that benefits your mental health. On the other hand, side sleeping and stomach sleeping can lead to pain in the shoulders, neck, and lower back, which may lead to frequent awakenings to adjust your position.
Making your bedroom environment calm, practicing good sleep hygiene, and reconsidering your daytime habits are other ways to calm an anxious mind when it is time for bed.
Meet our Experts
This article has been reviewed by members of our Scientific Advisory Board.
Former Olympic Athlete, Founder, B2ten Foundation (coach to multiple Olympic Champions)
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