How you can tackle your nighttime anxiety, according to experts

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Usually, bedtime is a moment of calmness before you drift off to sleep. But for some people, concerns flow through their minds before they can properly close their eyes.

“Around 80% of people say their worries whirlwind out of control at night,” Nicky Lidbetter, CEO of support group Anxiety UK told Good Housekeeping UK. “With stress, we tend to worry about a specific, tangible problem. But with anxiety, we’re less aware of what we’re worrying about, so our reaction becomes the problem and we start feeling anxious about being anxious.”

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The good news is you don’t have to accept spending your nights worrying before dozing off.

HuffPost spoke to several therapists about what people can do to ward off nighttime anxiety and get more rest. A few pieces of advice are below.

Set up a standard bedtime routine

According to online mobile therapy company Talkspace, a sleep hygiene routine begins before you head hits the pillow. Try shutting off screens a minimum of 30 minutes before you plan to go to sleep. Read or color to have some quiet time before bed. You can also incorporate your skincare routine into the winding down process.

“Whatever you decide to do before bed, being consistent is the most important part,” Talkspace said. “Over time, we can condition our bodies to expect and prepare for sleep by repeating the same behaviors in the same order each night.”

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Coax your mind to make you fall asleep

Shelley Treacher, a psychotherapist and Counselling Directory member, told HuffPost of a way you can trick your brain into getting shut-eye faster.

“First, let your eyes close just a little. Then, open your eyes fully,” Treacher said. “Then, close your eyes a quarter way. After this, open your eyes. Repeat, gradually increasing the amount you close your eyes, until your eyes close fully, before opening your eyes again. This way of behaving like a baby may fool your brain into tiredness.”

Use a grounding technique

Anxious thoughts swarming around can make it difficult to settle down. That’s when you can try grounding techniques to keep you focused on resting.

Dr. Sarah Allen, a specialist in cognitive therapy and women’s mental health based in Northbrook, Illinois, offers several grounding techniques on her website. One technique engages all five senses.

In a comfortable position, close your eyes and breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. You should count to three between inhaling and exhaling. Then, open your eyes and name five things you can see, four things you can feel, three things you can hear, two things you can smell and one thing you can taste. Finish by taking a deep breath.

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