How to

Sleep, Anxiety and Insomnia: How to Sleep Better when You’re Anxious

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In this video I'm going to talk about
how worry and anxiety can make it hard to fall asleep, and I'll teach you how to
train your brain to stop worrying at night. Do you ever have that problem when
your brain won't shut off? Like you're tired from a long day and you're finally
getting to bed after all of your to-do's and then you just lay there not sleeping
and then your brain starts to bring to mind like every possible worry like oh I
wish I hadn't said that, or how are we gonna afford those car
repairs, or you start thinking through everything you have to do tomorrow and
before long you're wide awake and you're getting more and more frustrated. I'm
Emma McAdam, I'm a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and today you're
gonna learn one powerful skill so that you can fall asleep when you're
worried or anxious.

Now this video is not a quick fix because I'm going to teach
you a lasting solution to worry based insomnia. So if you're watching this
video right now and you're hoping to fall asleep I will tell you what to do
tonight but that's gonna come after I teach this lasting solution. This video
is sponsored by Manta Sleep they make some amazingly soft sleep masks they are
so comfortable they're super customizable so you can move these eye pads
around and they also block out like 100% of the light in the room.
One of my favorite things about these masks is that they put like no pressure
on your eyeballs because of their unique shape and this is you know a valuable
tool because the light that enters your eyes sends a message to our brain about
how awake we need to be.

So bright blue light environments can trigger our brain
to be alert and to be active, and dark cool light environments can trigger your
brain to turn on those sleep signals. Go to mantasleep.com and use the code
nutshell to get a 10% discount. Now in this video we're going to talk about how
you can train your brain to fall asleep faster, even when you're anxious, and
using a sleep mask like this one from Manta can help your brain turn on that
sleep response.

So check out the link in the description to learn more about
Manta's products and to get a discount. Now our brains and our bodies are
naturally good at sleeping, they like to sleep. So if we're not sleeping well then
it's often because we've developed some habitual way of keeping our brain turned
on. I mean we've gotten in the way of our
own natural sleep response and having a consistent routine before bed like
wearing a sleep mask or doing other sleep hygiene routines can help your
brain start to turn on those sleep hormones like melatonin
and that's because our brain likes to make these paired associations. So a
bedtime routine gets paired with that feeling of sleepiness and I go into a
lot more detail on this in my video on triggers. So just like when you watch an
ad with like a really beautiful hamburger and your mouth maybe starts to
water that's a paired association and what we do right before we go to sleep
can help our brain turn on that sleep response in the same way, it's the same
type of paired association.

So one thing that often happens with people with
insomnia is that they developed the habit of thinking through their day when
they laid down. So when you do this repeatedly instead of associating your
bed or laying down with that sleepy time, your brain associate your
bed with worry time, and when we've practiced this over and over again now
the brain starts to think lying down let's get to work and we've developed
this trained response. We've taught our brain through habit that the time to
worry is bedtime. But the good news is your brain is built to rewire itself
it's built to pair and to unpair these associations. So all we have to do is to
retrain our brain to associate the bed with sleeping. But as Nick Wignall says, "
If you want your dog to stop pooping on the grass you have to train it to poop
somewhere else." So we have to train our brain to worry elsewhere, we can't just
force our brains to stop worrying and that's because worry serves a function.
It's our brain trying to keep us safe, to get things done and to make sure that we
take care of tasks.

So productive worry it helps us remember
to take out the trash or to pay our bills. Worry helps us take action and
prevent problems. However, unproductive worry it pops up at the wrong time or it
leads us to endless hypotheticals, or it spirals into these thinking patterns
that leave us feeling anxious and this can flood our body with stress hormones
and it can even leave us feeling anxious about anxiety, like 'oh no I'm worried
that I'm gonna worry so much that I can't sleep'.
The antidote to worrying when trying to sleep is to process through emotions and
worries and thoughts when you're awake.

You need to just face your crap during
the day, let your brain have time to process through the worry. So one of the
reasons that you worry at night is because you keep yourself so busy or so
distracted throughout the day that your brain doesn't have the time to process
and work through your concerns. Let's compare your brain to a computer
for a minute, let's compare worry to how a computer needs to do updates. So
computers have to take little breaks once in a while to update their system,
to organize their files or to you know update some piece of software. But if
they're constantly prompting you to do an update and you're always too busy to
take a break from what you're doing, then eventually either the computer is going
to break or it's going to force you to do an update at an inconvenient time.
It's got these urgent tasks you know like whatever's going on in the
forefront of your mind, or whatever's keeping you busy in the
moment and then it's also got these important tasks, which you can
put them off for a little while but if you keep putting it off eventually your
brain is going to bring it to mind when you have nothing else to distract
yourself with.

So when we keep our brain busy or distracted throughout the whole
day this doesn't give our brain the chance to work through our worries until
we try to go to sleep. So we all live in this culture of distraction. I mean
people take their phones to the bathroom with them because two minutes of sitting
there it just seems too boring. We often have distraction running while
we're driving, exercising, eating, almost every minute of the day,
and this prevents your brain from being able to run those background tasks
like worry. So distraction stops you from resolving those worries when you're
awake and because you've put it off the
worries pop up at night and then they trigger that stress response and that
keeps you awake. So, if you want to stop worrying when you lay down at night, you
need to slow down during the day and spend time away from your devices and
let your brain process through those worries during the day. Now because this
is kind of vague like it's this big picture task that requires some like
little efforts throughout the day I'm going to teach you one small change
that's really concrete that you can do every day that's going to help you fall
asleep.

So going back to the computer analogy if
you don't want your computer to force an update when you're supposed to be
presenting your thesis you just need to do the update earlier. So when it comes
to worry, this means you need to plan in time to worry on purpose, this is
deliberate worry. Deliberate worry means that you're
intentionally and consistently making a time each day to address your worries
and to make a plan. So this sends a message to your brain that you're going
to take care of it so that it doesn't have to keep reminding you when you're
trying to go to sleep. So your brain is kind of like a nagging mom do you want
your mom to stop asking you to do your chores? If you take out the trash, if you
just do it then she'll stop asking.

So if you want your brain to stop worrying at
night what you need to do is address the worries during the day. So the first step
is to plan in a time each day to sit down and write down each of your worries.
You just choose a consistent time and it usually will only take about 5 to 15
minutes. But if you've been avoiding a lot of things for a long time then it
might take longer at first, and eventually with practice this is just
going to take a few minutes each day.

Now don't do this right before bed. So right
after lunch or maybe like right after dinner it would be a good time sometime
in the afternoon. Choose a good time for you and set a reminder in your phone.
When you're doing deliberate worry you need to write down your worries, this is
really important. There's something about writing
things down that makes worries a lot more manageable, and as you plan this
into your schedule just plan to do this consistently for a few weeks. Like this
is not a quick fix, this is a lasting solution. Okay so on to step two after
making your list you need to sort through your worries. So your brain is
amazingly powerful at thinking through future possibilities and imagining
outcomes and this is what makes humans able to build skyscrapers and iPhones.
But it also means that your brain can imagine worst-case scenarios and
catastrophes no matter how unhelpful it is to do that, or how unlikely those
catastrophes are.

So ,after you've written down your list, you want to go through
your list and highlight which worries are actionable. So you are going to separate worries that you can act on from worries that are hypothetical or
imagined danger. So this doesn't mean that they're fake or that they're
impossible it just means that they're not something that you're gonna choose
to act on in the present moment. So for example with coronavirus
hypothetical worries might be something like 'What if this lasts for years?', or
'What if I catch it?', and actionable worries might be what are reasonable
preventative measures I can take, or how can I schedule my day tomorrow during
lockdown. Okay, on to step 3. For the actionable worries create a plan. Write
down the next smallest action, use a verb an action word and then set a reminder,
set a reminder to take the smallest action tomorrow to do the smallest step.
So if you're worried about a long day ahead of you put a reminder in your
phone for tomorrow morning to make a schedule for your day, or if you're
worried about protective gear make a plan to look up patterns for a homemade
mask.

You don't need to solve all your problems, you just need to choose the
next smallest actionable step and make a reminder for it. Okay step four is
acceptance. Some problems can't be solved right away and they need to be accepted.
So what you're going to do with those is set those aside wholeheartedly
and you could even say this out loud 'I can't do everything at once', or say 'I
can't control everything'. This is really all about understanding your locus of
control, what is and what isn't in your realm of control. Now in my opinion
worry is about unresolved issues, issues that you haven't faced and either taken
action on or actively chosen to accept.

So it is a choice to choose not to act.
Worry comes up when we haven't resolved what to do and our brain keeps prompting
us to face it and to make some decision about it. Worry basically says over and
over again 'do I need to do something?'. It's like a cloud that hovers over us
and by planning in time for deliberate worry it's like taking that cloud
turning it into rain like some solid water and then you've got something more
manageable something you can do something with.

So deliberate worry
answers that question with a yes or a no. Step 5. Shifting your focus. When you've
taken the time to face your worries on purpose it's time to be intentional
about what your brains going to pay attention to.
So I recommend shifting your perspective to gratitude. Spend a little time
remembering the things that are going well, remind yourself of your successes. I
personally I have a routine I do before bedtime,
where I write down some of my wins for the day and I practice a little bit of
gratitude before I go to sleep. Lastly, if you're watching this video right now and
you're trying to fall asleep but you're worrying, get out of bed and do a brain
dump. So that means just writing all your thoughts on paper and when you've got
all your thoughts written down take that piece of paper and set it aside,
file it somewhere and say out loud I'm gonna face this tomorrow, and after
you've done that physical act of setting it aside, then you can go back to bed or
you can try reengage your mind with a book or a meditation or a distraction
for tonight.

Now again this is this is the short-term fix right the long-term
fix is facing your worries intentionally throughout the day. But for tonight you
could try my video on progressive muscle relaxation,
or a body scan, or my insomnia antidote video which is just talking about
gratitude as an antidote to worry. Now all of these may or may not be helpful
in the short term but in the long run facing your worries with a deliberate
practice and setting a bedtime routine with good sleep hygiene can help you
retrain your brain to fall asleep at night instead of worrying. I hope you
found this video helpful.

Thank you for watching. Please subscribe and sweet
dreams. Hi this is called Therapy in a Nutshell with a Kid I'm Aliya and…..and bye. (Perfect!) Get this off me! Get this off me! Got it!.

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