Many people with anxiety have experienced the situation of being tired and wanting to slip into bed, just to have your mind race, filled with all of those “what if” thoughts. You need sleep, but that’s the furthest thing from your mind at that moment.

What happened? Why do you feel anxious before bed?

One possible reason is that during the day, while you’re dealing with everything you have to do, you don’t have the time to stop and think about things that make you anxious. Then, just when you’re winding down, getting ready to relax, all those things flood your mind.

This is not only frustrating, it’s also not healthy and adds to your anxiety. Being anxious before bed prevents you from getting the sleep you need to be both physically and mentally healthy. Not sleeping, or not sleeping well, makes you more anxious the next day when you can’t focus and get your work done.

What Can You Do If You’re Anxious Before Bed?

One thing you have to keep in mind is it takes time to change habits. And it’s easy to get into the habit of feeling anxious before bed. So, practice is required. Try these suggestions, find the ones that work for you, and practice them every night.

  • Turn things off. Turn off the computer, video games, or television at least an hour before you go to bed. You want to trigger those habits that help you get ready for bed. Dim the lights, or turn off all but one. This alerts your brain that it’s time to slow down and sleep. Read, play cards, or write. You want to keep your mind engaged, but focused on something other than your anxious thoughts.
  • Have a clear bedtime. Having the same time every night to prepare for bed and to lie down will help you get used to doing that at that time. This is the way you set up a comfortable habit that will train your mind for getting tired and going to sleep.
  • Journal. Many people find writing down the thoughts and fears of the day along with solutions for them to be a comforting activity. It’s a way to get the thoughts out of your head and on paper so you can deal with them tomorrow. Keep in mind this may not be the best way for you; it may stimulate your thoughts too much. Try it, but don’t worry if it doesn’t work.
  • Learn to relax. There are many systematic ways to physically relax your body. Look up several of them on the internet and see what works for you. Practice the one you find that works. Relaxing the body will help you go to sleep.
  • Use your bed only for sleep. Avoid doing any work, texting, looking things up on the computer, or any other activity that could be stimulating. You bed should only be for sleep.

Try several of these activities and see what works for you. Remember: Practice, practice, practice.