This is Part Three of a six-part series called “Overcoming Anxiety.” It derives from the article Anxiety: Part II, which introduced these topics as ways to combat anxiety. The purpose of this series is to analyze these topics on a deeper level to ensure they provide you with the most meaningful information to apply towards changing your life.
“Sleep is the best meditation. Prioritizing good sleep is good self love.”
Everyone sleeps. It’s a big part of our lives. The varying factor is how well you sleep and whether or not you prioritize adequate sleep that gives your mind and body time to heal.
Sleeping too little, or sometimes too much, can have a serious impact on your mental health.
According to a 2018 study of more than 10,000 people, the body’s ability to function declines considerably if sleep isn’t in the range of seven to nine hours.
Another study shows that sleep deprived individuals report a greater increase in anxiety during tasks and rate the likelihood of potential catastrophes as higher when sleep deprived, relative to when rested.
It’s simple: the amount you sleep each day determines how well you deal with anxiety and stress. When you’re tired and unable to function at a high level, anxiety has an easier path to your thoughts.
If you supply yourself with sufficient rest and recovery each day, it will lead to a healthier mind.
The best way to achieve this is by incorporating an effective sleep schedule into your routine.
Create a Schedule
Below is an example of a sleep schedule that I try to follow every week:
8:00 PM (3 hours before bed) – Snack & Tea
I eat dinner around 5:00 PM (depending on the work day) and like to have a small snack in between that and bed. Snack choices vary but typically include nuts, an apple with almond butter or a protein bar.
I also drink one cup of organic decaf tea courtesy of “Traditional Medicinals.” I use two tea bags – one is “EveryDay Detox” and the other is “Cup of Calm.” A few of the main ingredients include dandelion herb, chamomile herb, passionflower herb and lavender flower. This combination promotes wellness and produces a calming sensation, creating a peaceful atmosphere in the mind that allows you to wind down.
9:00 PM (2 hours before bed) – Supplements & No work
At this point, unless it’s a busy day, I like to stop any work I’m doing and clear my mind, shifting my focus to relaxation. I might watch a TV show or read a book during this time.
Upon doing this, I take 450 MG of Ashwagandha (Sometimes I replace or add 10-20 MG of CBD if anxiety levels are higher). This continues the cycle of relaxation and helps prevent late night overthinking. Ashwagandha extract is a natural compound with sleep- inducing potential that improves sleep quality and lowers stress levels that are elevated throughout the day.
I also take 500 MG of Magnesium and 75 MG of Butterbur Extract. Magnesium regulates neurotransmitters and enhances brain function, resulting in greater stress response and relaxation. I take butterbur for a migraine issue, but this too has shown to have an effect on insomnia and reducing anxiety.
10:00 PM (1 hour before bed) – Meditation & No screen time
This one is usually the hardest to follow, but it can pay huge dividends if you want no troubles falling asleep. Turning off your TV, laptop or any other electronic device, as well as putting away your phone for the night, eliminates your exposure to blue light.
Decreased light signals the body to generate sleep hormones like melatonin. Blue light disrupts these signals, and less melatonin is generated, so avoiding screen time before bed will translate to better sleep.
Meditation is a great replacement. I discussed the benefits of meditation as a whole in Part One of this series – Meditation & Breathwork – but doing so later at night calms your mind and prepares you for sleep.
I meditate 20 minutes before bed to shut my mind off and drift into a sleepy state.
11:00 PM (Time for bed) – Bedtime
11:00 PM – 7:30 AM (roughly 8.5 hours of sleep)
7:30 AM – Wake up & begin morning routine
(More on morning routines in next week’s article, “Winning The Morning.”)
This schedule can be modified based on personal preference and your exact bedtime. How you spend time during your routine, as well as parts like snacks and supplements, may differ depending on what works for you.
The purpose is to give suggestions and provide a schedule template that you can use to build one for yourself. If maintained, it will rarely leave you with a struggle that so many people endure – falling asleep.
Odds are you won’t follow your plan every day. Different days bring on different events that throw you off track, but you can adjust the specifics of your plan according to these days.
Plus, if you establish a schedule and apply it as much as possible, you will hold yourself accountable to return to it when it’s broken. It will also reveal its benefits when you realize how hard it becomes to fall asleep without it.
Another tip that will correlate with following your sleep schedule is making sure your days are packed with productivity. The more productive you are each day, and the harder you work, the easier it will be to fall asleep. Not only will you be more tired from the energy you exerted, but you will have no regrets lingering on your mind. This can apply to your work, exercise and everything life throws at you.
Make your days impactful and productive. If you commit to this, you will desire a restful slumber that will ultimately have you back at full strength the next day. It’s a cycle.
The Wrap Up
The bottom line? Prioritize good sleep in your life to heal the mind and recharge the body. Establish your bedtime routine and follow it often so you gain familiarity with when you shut down and start up.
Repetition will create this habit and integrate it into your daily routine. In turn, it will keep you running at a high level for the other hours in the day.
It will better equip you with the energy you need to fight off stress and anxiety.
Sleep is not for the weak. Sleep is for the smart.
Stay tuned for next week’s article, where you will learn techniques that enable you to ‘win the morning’ and get your days started off on the right foot after a great night of sleep.