Here's how to manage your sleep when you're dealing with anxiety

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In recent weeks, many people have reported trouble getting to sleep at night thanks to fears and worries about coronavirus.

Losing out on sleep can be a distressing experience and is likely to exacerbate any existing mental stress you're under, as well as possibly impacting your physical health, too.

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Luckily, there are steps you can take throughout the day, and at bedtime, to help ease your anxieties and help you get a better night's sleep.

Before bed

Stick to a routine 

As far as is possible, try to go to sleep and wake up around the same time each day. This will help your body learn to sleep better.

Whether you're working or not, try to stick to a routine, planning activities to keep your mind busy throughout the day - and avoid taking daytime naps, as this may impact your sleep at night.

Take work out of the bedroom 

If you're working from home, try to keep work out of the bedroom by setting up a dedicated work space elsewhere in the house.

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Working in your room can lead to any stresses from the day being carried with you as you go to bed. Working elsewhere help you mentally separate your leisure time from your work time.

Limit your internet exposure

Consuming news constantly is likely adding to your anxiety during this uncertain time. However, for many people, it's not feasible or desirable to ignore it completely.

Instead, you should try to limit your exposure to news or any other anxiety-inducing online content (such as social media) during the day.

This could either mean limiting your consumption to a set amount of hours, or simply having a 'cut-off' period before bed, where you stop looking at your phone or laptop in the hours leading up to sleep.

Cut back on caffeine 

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If you're struggling to sleep, cutting down on the coffees, teas or other caffeinated drinks you're consuming throughout the day could help you get off easier at night.

Really can't live without your coffee fix? Try to get hold of decaf versions of your favourite hot drinks instead.

Get some exercise

As well as keeping yourself busy throughout the day, getting in some exercise is one of the best things you can do for your brain and body to help you sleep better.

However, vigorous activity close to bedtime might not be the best idea, as it could keep you awake. For this reason, try to get some exercise done during the day or in the early evening, at the latest.

Share your worries 

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Whether chatting to a friend over the phone, your therapist, or simply writing your thoughts down, getting your worries out on paper during the day can relieve a huge amount of the strain you're feeling and lead to better sleep.

If you're seriously struggling with your mental health during this period, mental health charity Mind has some excellent resources to help.

At bedtime

Get to bed early and avoid screen time

Make sure to get to bed early to leave plenty of time to drift off to sleep. You should also avoid screens right before bedtime and try not to watch the clock if you are struggling to get off to sleep.

Try mindfulness or breathing exercises 

Using mindfulness or breathing exercises before or while you're in bed can help clear your mind of any anxious thoughts.

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Mindfulness and meditation app, Headspace, has some great detailed information and advice around exercises to help you sleep here.

Use podcasts, audio books or music

If meditation or mindfulness isn't your thing, audio books, music or podcasts can be a great way of helping your brain focus on something else while trying to drift off.

Your choices will matter here - choose content unrelated to news or anything scary, and try to avoid anything too compelling.

There are a number of podcasts and soundtracks out there dedicated to listeners trying to sleep, so all you need to do is shop around for the right one.

Don't force it

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There's nothing more frustrating than not being able to sleep when you desperately want to.

But if you are finding yourself getting wound up, get up and do something else - like reading - until you start to feel tired.

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