When you want to stop panic attacks, one of the best things you can do is start getting the best quality sleep possible. So what follows are 3 of the best tips for improving the quality of your sleep.
*** Tip # 1. No Negative Thinking In Bed ***
More worry and anxiety occurs when you're lying awake in bed than at any other time of the day. That's pretty incredible when you consider it the place where we should be most relaxed!
This problem probably affects you at night when you're lying awake trying to sleep, during the night when you wake up, and in the morning when you're awake but not up yet.
So the key here is to eliminate as much of this “worry in bed” time as possible. The easiest one to resolve is the worry in the morning, when you're awake but you have not gotten up yet. The simple solution here is to get up the moment you wake up!
This is a very simple idea, but it's amazing how much anxiety this will remove from the start of your day. Getting up before your mind has a chance to remember all the things it could be anxious about will give you a better start to the day than you've had in a long time.
As for the times when you wake up during the night and start to worry / panic – well, this one's slightly trickier. But there are things you can do! First of all, if you're awake longer than a few minutes and you feel your anxiety increasing, get up out of bed. Being in bed in the silence will just make any anxiety you feel seem even worse.
Have a warm shower or wash your face with warm water, potter around for 10 minutes doing something that does not need much focus (a bit of tidying, listening to some soft music, skim-reading a magazine etc.), and then go back to bed. The key here is to recreate a “natural” going-to-bed routine.
So instead of lying awake for hours you get up for a bit, and then finally when you return to bed you treat it as if you're going to bed for the first time. This is much more natural for your body to accept than it is to lie there for hours when you can not sleep. It's far more likely that you'll get back to sleep doing this than simply lying there.
*** Tip # 2. Stick To The Same Schedule ***
If you're suffering with a sleep problem for any reason, not just one that's caused by anxiety and panic, then sticking to the same schedule every day is great advice.
By simply going to bed at the same time each night and getting up at the same time each morning, your body's internal clock will get back to normal. Many of your body's functions, including the releasing of hormones, are affected by your wake / sleep cycle.
Do you know that feeling of being constantly “burnt-out?” That's often because your adrenal glands are working even when they should be resting. One of the common causes of this is an irregular sleeping schedule. Getting back into a regular routine will fix this and many other problems too.
So do your best to go to bed each night at the same time, and get up each morning at the same time too. When you start out doing this, you may go through a couple of tough days while you get back into the correct routine, but it will be worth it. And also beware of sleeping in late on weekends, or days when you do not have to be up early. All your hard work can be undone with a couple of late lie-ins!
*** Tip # 3. Have A Slow-Down Hour Before Bed ***
Many of the problems that I had sleeping were because of what I was doing before I actually went to bed each night. I was often watching TV in bed right up until the moment I turned out the light and tried to sleep. This is a very bad idea! The same goes for any loud or heavy music, and even for reading if the subject is heavy or extreme.
So the first thing to do is eliminate anything stimulating for at least an hour before you go to bed. You should also not do any exercise at all for at least a couple of hours before bed. And try to develop a new pre-bed routine – a “slow-down” routine, as I like to call it.
Consciously begin to ease back on everything for the last hour before you go to bed. Stroll around like you're on vacation. If you like to have a bedtime drink of some kind then sip it outside if it's a nice night and enjoy the fresh air. If it's too cold outside, curl up on the couch and relax for 20 minutes while you enjoy your drink.
It may sound a bit obvious to give this kind of advice, but how many of us really give ourselves time like this? Even those of us who do do not do it enough.
If you're a bath-taker, then whenever you can take one right before you get into bed. Make it warm, but never too hot. A warm bath has been proven in many studies to put the body in just the right state for great quality sleep. So make this slow winding-down hour a new part of your pre-bed routine. It can work unbelievably well when you're not sleeping.
By following these 3 tips, your sleeping will be sure to improve, and you'll be one big step closer to being able to stop panic attacks for good.