6 Ways to Deal with Sleep Anxiety

If you’ve ever struggled with sleep anxiety, you know the drill. You try for what seems like hours to fall asleep, make several mental to-do lists, toss and turn endlessly — all to wake up in the morning feeling exhausted and anxious. It’s a vicious cycle that can prove difficult to break, and because it’s affected my life since I was young, I’ve put a lot of effort into finding ways to cope. More specifically, finding ways to NOT have sleep anxiety.

If sleep anxiety is something that is affecting your life (and productivity level), these steps should help lessen the symptoms.


1. Drink less.

Starting off the list with something depressing (I know, womppp wompp), but I promise it works. If you’re looking for something to blame for your sleep anxiety, alcohol could definitely be it. After talking to a doctor and really taking time to assess my lifestyle, we noticed a trend. Some of my worst sleep anxiety would happen on days I was hungover.

That being said, because the Sunday Scaries are a given, I recommend reserving cocktail time for Friday night so you don’t have to stress about having to get good sleep on a hangover. As good as Pinot Noir is, it never tastes better than anxiety (okay, rarely).


2. Grab a book.

Sometimes distracting your mind is the best route when it’s running wild — we all know this. But have you ever thought about what exactly you’re reading? I like picking up a good non-fiction book because fiction can be just as addicting as TV. Non-fiction, as informative as it is, can get a little boring, so I tend to start nodding off pretty quickly. No Hunger Games dreams to follow, either.


3. Write.

Whether it’s scribbles that don’t make sense or organized “brain dumps” — get everything that’s bouncing around in your mind o-u-t. Getting your thoughts on paper before hitting the pillow can really give you a sense of calm and ease, making falling asleep that much easier. Plus, the list of things you’re anxious about usually seems less scary when you actually write it all out.


4. Try a sound machine

Whether you need to drown out silence or the rumblings of a noisy neighbor (…or, ahem, a snoring bedside partner), a sound machine can become your BFF. Having a tool to rely on can help whether you’re in your own home or traveling — which is where my anxiety escalates. There are tons of portable options, or even apps.


5. Limit technology

From TVs to phones, technology and easy sleep don’t mix. Scrolling through social media in bed or squeezing in just one more episode of your favorite show may seem harmless, but they’re actually awful for bedtime. Things like this stimulate your brain, which is the exact opposite of what your body needs when trying to fall asleep. I have found that switching my phone to airplane mode (turning off the transceiver, blocking any messages) and not allowing any notifications to pop up until I turn it back on in the morning is super effective. And yes, your sleep machine app can still function while the phone is in airplane mode.


6. Create a routine

Routines seem to be the answer to everything these days, sleep anxiety being no different. An hour before bedtime, turn off The Bachelor (don’t act like you don’t), do your thing in the bathroom, and hop into bed with a book. Basically, instead of forcing your mind and body to “fall asleep ASAP!,” you’re easing it into it. It’s no different from the nighttime routine moms rely on when getting kids to bed. At least you get to pick your bedtime!


How do you combat sleep anxiety? Share your tips in the comments!

  • Daria Ed

    It’s so hard to limit the technology for me.
    Great tips! Will be using them for sure.
    – Daria

  • Madeline Griffitt

    Reading 30 minutes with no technology for half an hour before bed has been a lifesaver for me! I just started doing it about two weeks ago and my sleep is DRAMATICALLY improved! Excellent tips!

  • Emmeline

    AH yes, I hate the first one but it is really the one that works wonders. But it’s so easy to limit yourself when you have a bad period and then when my anxiety has been better for a while I tend to forget how bad it can be and start cheating.. Need to get back to what works! Here are a few more tips I find to help:

    1. Limiting caffeine… also very boring but it helps! Either stop/reduce or never have it after lunch time.
    2. Make sure you have some time during the day to let your mind wander and worry. For example, take a walk without headphones, meditate or read a book – if my mind “wants” to worry about something today I will for sure notice during quiet times such as meditation. And then i can just worry and think about it before I need to go to sleep.


  • Joules

    As a long time insomniac, I agree with all of your tips. Reading is probably my number one go-to when I can’t sleep. Also, I like taking melatonin–it really helps!

    Style by Joules

  • orinocowomble

    Eat one or two kiwis before going to bed. It won’t make you “feel sleepy” but you do relax and your sleep is more restful. I was told this by a friend and thought “yeah right” but learned online that there is science behind it. I’ve been eating kiwis every night since then. It won’t take up the slack if you’ve binged on caffiene, but it does help!!

    I also listen to natural sound recordings on YT: a crackling fireplace, ocean waves, rain, etc. Really helps me relax at bedtime.

  • Unfortunately, when insomnia strikes me, it strikes hard. The only thing that comforts at a time like that is to walk around the dark house and gaze out the window. I know it’s odd, but the idea that not everyone is sleeping comforts me!

  • Use lavender essential oils in a diffuser =o)


  • Kristin Y.

    I always struggled with sleep; the more I would try to fall asleep, the more frustrated I would get! Once I started with the nutritional company that I partnered with a year and a half ago, I am literally “out” within 15 minutes of my head hitting the pillow. Absolutely awesome!!

  • elizabeth

    Gosh, until I read this article I never knew there was a name for what I have struggled with my whole life! Anxiety is the operative word for me; not only the stress of thinking about what is going on in my life at any given moment but also just the fear that I won’t fall asleep period. Walking around the house in the dark helps, so does stretching (especially around my diaphram, which is where I carry most of my stress). Finally, I like to listen to a book as I try to fall asleep. I find it impossible to follow the plot of a novel and obsess about my worries at the same time. I always pick something light and easy to digest. No harrowing tales after lights out!

  • Great tips. I try to limit my caffeine in the late morning and afternoon, sticking to herbal and decaf teas. I also try to get in a walk at lunch or after dinner to help clear my mind and relax before tucking in for the night (this also helps my pups calm down for the night too).
    Abby – allaboutthebenjamins2015.com

  • Zara

    I’ve been struggling with sleep anxiety on and off for years. Sometimes I sleep fine and other times I can’t sleep for weeks and end up in a downward spiral of anxiety and exhaustion. It just started up again a few days ago but I’m trying to chill and not get stressed. Thanks for the article, although I have tried everything and nothing seems to stop it! Onwards and upwards!