How to Reduce Your (Quarantine) Anxiety for Better Sleep

By Marissa Maples

Today’s guest writer Marissa Maples is a customer of Aizome who writes the blog wanderlustinghomebody.com, focusing on how to entertain (and feel like you are going out) while staying at home - perfect for these quarantine times. 

 

You get in bed, eager for sleep but you toss and turn, unable to drift off.  Ruminating on thoughts about tomorrow, COVID-19, your job and your family, your heart is beating hard, your hands may be clammy.  You’ve been tired all day it seems, and yet now that you’re in bed, you are awake. And anxious.

 

We are, as a species, experiencing a collective traumatic experience.  The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all of us in myriad ways. A recent poll by the American Psychiatric Association revealed that over a third of Americans said COVID-19 is having a significant impact on their mental health with most Americans experiencing some degree of anxiety with respect to the pandemic. (1). 

 

The American Psychological Association defines anxiety as “an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure.” (2) It is a response to a trigger or fear stimuli, calling back to our ancestral freeze, flight or fight response to danger.  Anxiety can manifest itself in many ways (a knot in your stomach, uncontrollable sweating, irritability, etc.) and for many, this includes difficulty sleeping. (2)


It is generally accepted that consistent, high quality sleep is crucial for optimum emotional, mental and physical well-being.  (Un)fortunately, sleep and anxiety can compound one another. That is, anxiety can cause trouble sleeping, and a lack of sleep can cause anxiety.  The upside of this is that by addressing and mitigating your anxiety, you can achieve better sleep which will allow you to wake up less anxious and more yourself.  (3, 4, 5)


So how do you manage your anxiety for better sleep, and manage your sleep for less anxiety?  According to sleep and mental health experts, these are the best tips:

  • Step away from the news.  You do not need to consume everything produced by our 24/7 news cycle, take a break.  And when you return to the news, make sure you are seeking out reputable sources rather than being baited by the social media “news” (6)
  • Treat your anxiety with:
    • Meditation – consider a free app to help you start your practice
    • Guided breathing – try 4-7-8 breathing: inhale for 4 seconds, hold for 7 seconds, exhale slowly for 8 seconds
    • Gratitude exercises – keep a gratitude journal or list that you return to daily (7)
  • Take care of yourself
    • Seek professional help if you feel it would benefit you (online and teleconference options are more available than ever before)
    • Be kind to yourself, especially in moments when you’re grappling with complicated or difficult feelings (5, 6, 7)
  • Take care of your physical health
    • Exercise daily
    • Be kind to yourself – all yourself to feel your feelings
    • Eat a balanced and healthy diet (6,7)
  • Create a positive sleep experience

You deserve to feel your best and most capable every day, especially in these uncertain times.  By addressing and reducing your anxiety, you will be able to achieve higher quality sleep, and with better rest you will be less anxious tomorrow and better equipped to tackle the day ahead.  

Be healthy, safe and well rested. 

Citations
  1. New Poll: COVID-19 Impacting Mental Well-Being: Americans Feeling Anxious, Especially for loved Ones; Older Adults are Less Anxious.  Psychiatry.org. https://www.psychiatry.org/newsroom/news-releases/new-poll-covid-19-impacting-mental-well-being-americans-feeling-anxious-especially-for-loved-ones-older-adults-are-less-anxious
  2. American Psychological Association. https://www.apa.org/topics/anxiety/
  3. How Does Anxiety Affect Sleep? Sleep Foundation. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/how-does-anxiety-affect-sleep
  4. Tips for beating anxiety to get a better night’s sleep.  Harvard Health Publishing. Harvard Medical School. https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/tips-for-a-better-nights-sleep
  5. Anxiety and Sleep. PSYCOM. https://www.psycom.net/anxiety-and-sleep/
  6. Managing mental health during COVID-19. AMA. https://www.ama-assn.org/delivering-care/public-health/managing-mental-health-during-covid-19
  7. How to Get More Sleep Tonight. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/25/style/self-care/sleep-tips-benefits-coronavirus.html