How To Fall Asleep When You're Nervous About The Day Ahead, According To Experts
The next time you roll into the office with dark under-eye bags giving away your sleep deprivation, consider the list of scapegoats you come up with. Sure, the blue light emitting from Instagram while you mindlessly scrolled could have screwed up your circadian rhythm, and if your roommate snores like a grizzly bear, that could definitely skew your sleep. But what about your nerves? Shutting off your phone, investing in soundproof earphones — these are all things you can do to tune out interruptions, but figuring out how to fall asleep when you’re nervous about things that are happening outside the comfort of your sheets requires you to think outside the box you call your bedroom.
According to Eric Nofzinger, M.D., founder and chief medical officer at Ebb Therapeutics, the reason why you struggle so hard trying to fall asleep in a pile of nerves is because, in order to achieve that deliciously satisfying, optimal sleep nirvana, "the body and mind have to settle down." If your brain is hyperactive and going through the what-ifs of tomorrow, or an event you're dreading a week from now, your body and mind are far from settled. In order to close your eyes and drift off to sleep, nerves or not, you need to carve out at least an hour or so before bed to focus on winding down.
"[When winding down], our body temperature is declining, and a series of hormonal and neuroendocrine activities are switching gears from a waking, active state, to one more characteristic of rest and restoration," Nofzinger tells Elite Daily. "A feeling of 'nervousness' calls into play the opposite bodily and mental activities that are more associated with states of high arousal that oppose sleep."
In short, you can't fall asleep when you're a jumble of nerves, because nothing about you — body, mind, or soul — is at rest. Here are a few, expert-approved tips to help switch your body temperature from high to low, turn down all the unnecessary noise in your brain, and just relax for a few hours.
1. Use Your Bedroom For Sleep, And Only Sleep
Think about your kitchen table: What do you do there? You eat, right? You wouldn't (typically) lay a blanket over the sides and snuggle on the hardwood for a cat nap, so why make the top of your comforter a second office space?
Your bedroom, Nofzinger tells Elite Daily, should be your sleep haven, a "relaxing, private space designated for sleep." In other words, limit your time doing other tasks like eating, watching hours of Netflix, or any other activity that's not sleeping, to a minimum in the bedroom. That way, your brain will associate fluffy pillows and jersey fabric with rest and relaxation.
2. Sip On A Melatonin-Infused Beverage
Similarly to how some people drink tea, or a mug-full of steaming moon milk to relax their bodies and lull them to sleep, Neuro Sleep is, what I like to call, the anti-energy drink.
I know myself, and I don't tend to lean toward a cold glass of water or anything chilled right before bed, but Neuro Sleep has a nice, not-too-sweet taste of mango, tangerine, or peach apricot, and is infused with melatonin, the natural hormone that controls when your body sleeps and wakes. So when your nerves are jumbled, and you're struggling to snooze, Neuro Sleep acts as a gentle, tasty push toward rest.
3. Limit Smartphone Usage And Log Out Well Before Bedtime
Come on, guys. You didn't seriously think I'd write up a list about how to fall asleep when you're nervous without talking about the ultimate sleep-stealer, otherwise known as technology, did you? Believe me, I know how tempting it is to go on an Instagram "liking" spree at 1 a.m. when the alternative is tossing and turning in misery, but the fact of the matter is, blue light is bad for you. The blue light from your phone hurts your eyes, it messes with your sleep cycle, and that, on top of all of the other unnecessary stress social media adds to your life, is a recipe for disaster, not slumber.
According to Blake Wheeler, founder and inventor of Sleepie, who tells Elite Daily he struggles with falling asleep himself, blue light in the evening, and social media in general, can increase anxiety levels. So, rather than staring at YouTube with a hope and a prayer to eventually feel sleepy, turn off all technology and screens (TV counts, too) at least 30 minutes before bed to give your eyes, physical brain, and mind a break.
4. Try Meditating To Let Go Of Your Nerves
Finding your zen isn't just a hippie thing; it's an anyone-who-wants-to-chill-TF-out thing. Take it from someone with a lot of nerves and built-up anxiety, carving out a few minutes of your day to sit up straight, close your eyes, and take deep, belly breaths can really set your mood straight.
Dr. Anda Baharaz, a physician, former researcher at the Medical Physics Department at Tel Aviv University, and founder of the sleep-tracking app SleepX (launching May 2018), totally agrees: She tells Elite Daily that, when you're nerves are preventing you from sleeping, dabbling in "meditation, breathing exercises, or yoga" can help you relax and, in the words of Princess Elsa, "let it go."
5. Inhale A Lot Of Lavender
There are so many essential oils for sleep out there, but one of the most popular is, hands-down, the floral scent of lavender. In fact, there's a ton of science to back up just how beneficial a drop or two of the aromatic oil is for sleep.
For example, Six Steps to Sleep reports the results of a 2005 study carried out by researchers at Southampton University in England, which found that lavender can increase sleep quality by as much as 20 percent. Here's how it works: Lavender reduces stress and slows down any wild activity that might be going down in the nervous system. It's a beautiful mind-body experience in which your whole being is able to settle down, ease into calmness, and eventually, allow you to drift off to sleep.
6. Focus On Your Breathing
I have a feeling this next little tidbit is going to blow your mind, because it certainly blew mine the first time I heard it. Did you know there are different ways humans breathe? You would think breathing is pretty basic — in one way, out the same, but according to The Sleep Ambassador, Nancy Rothstein, when you're nervous, you tend to breathe rapidly "through the mouth" when, really, you should be breathing "through the nose 24/7."
"When [you're] nervous, it is all the more important to breathe properly, in and out through the nose with your mouth closed," she tells Elite Daily. "This gets you out of your head and all the worries that are making you nervous, allowing your nervous system to calm down vs. being on heightened alert."