How well do you sleep, really?

#1 – Sleep Habits

Consistent sleep will be a cornerstone in regaining your life.

In order to reduce anxiety at bedtime, give the mind a chance to wind down.

To be completely frank, your bed should only be used for two things: sleep and sex!  This means no falling asleep with the television on, no catching up on emails and especially no phone/computer games.

Many think playing games is relaxing but, in reality, way too much brain stimulation occurs, which makes it harder to fall asleep.  Plus, studies have shown that it is not just the light from the screen or the notification sounds that disrupt sleep. The wireless signal emitting from the device is also a hazard.

Fact: Panic sufferers tend to be above average in intelligence.

Smart people tend to also be overthinkers.  Personally, I am one of the great overthinkers of our time. If you do too, this habit is very likely bringing you closer to your Panic Threshold.  The good news is that the tendency to crave knowledge that I am guessing you also have will help drive you away from that Threshold.  The more you understand about panic, the easier it will be for you to intellectualize your way into better habits.  I’ll get you started with a couple of short articles:

Ways Technology Affects Sleep – sleep.org

How Mobile Phones Affect Sleep – Huffington Post

As it states in the articles, it’s best to not even bring your cell into the bedroom! I totally get that it may be too much at this point to even consider that.

For now, at the very least, I encourage you to set your phone to vibrate (or better yet put it into Do Not Disturb mode) then turn it over so the light will not disturb you and move it as far away as you can handle.

Then, if you wake up in the middle of the night, resist the reflex to automatically check the phone.  In the dark, the sudden bright light from the phone is both jarring on the eyes and confusing to the brain, making it difficult to fall back asleep.

Wind down before bed

One way to calm the nervous system and the brain right before bed is to do a yoga pose called Viparita Karani or Legs Up the Wall pose.

Instructions:

Close the eyes and completely relax the legs against the wall with the buttocks pushed to the wall and the arms by your side.  If one is readily available, put a folded bed pillow or bolster under the tailbone so the upper body is slightly slanted to lessen inflammation of the lower body while enabling freshly oxygenated blood to flow to the brain.

Next, release any tightness in the lower back, then the belly, the mid back and chest, then the neck, shoulders and arms.  Finally, fully relax the face.  Bring all the attention to the breath – inhale for a count of five while envisioning the lungs completely filling with air.  Briefly pause then exhale for a count of eight, visualizing the lungs emptying fully.  If the mind strays to something other than the breath, release those thoughts and, once again, return the attention to the breath.  Try not to scold yourself when the mind wanders.  At first, work up to staying in this posture for five minutes (best to use a digital kitchen timer but, if you must, set the timer on your cell).  Do you feel more relaxed?

Be gentle on yourself if you struggle to be still for this long.  Start with as little as a minute if need be and keep trying.  It will get easier in time.

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Does your mind race as you begin to settle in to sleep?  Journaling to get repetitive thoughts out of your head can help.

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Finally, your sleeping space should be as dark and quiet as possible.  If you are afraid to sleep with the overhead light off, consider trying to sleep with a night light instead.  For now.  Decide if you are more comfortable with the door open or shut.

Next time I will discuss the relationship between caffeine and sugar have with susceptibility to panic attacks.

Sweet dreams are made of these1,
deb

              
1“Sweet Dreams”, Eurythmics