It’s been a long, tiring day and you’re feeling shattered. Finally you crawl into bed, physically exhausted and ready for a good night’s sleep … only to find your mind has other ideas. Instead of drifting off into weightless slumber, your brain fires up, your pulse quickens and your head becomes crowded with endless worries you thought had been parked for the day.
‘About 80% of people say their worries whirlwind out of control at night,’ says Nicky Lidbetter, who heads up an anxiety support group. ‘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.’
And even if we do initially drop off, those worries can still crowd in if we wake up during the night. ‘The classic time to wake up seems to be between 2am and 4am,’ adds Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, author of Fast Asleep, Wide Awake (Harper Thorsons). ‘Suddenly your brain starts to become very active and problems that may well be solvable during the day become huge worries at night – made worse by the fact you can’t sort them out there and then.’
Here’s what to do when your body says sleep but your mind’s not listening.
SLEEP BY THE CLOCK
When it comes to sleep,