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5 tips to help you get to sleep when you’re feeling anxious

Black female wearing a yellow top and pink shorts laying on chest in a pink bed sleeping on period

Sleep is vital for brain function, physical health and mental health. But, unfortunately, it’s not always easy to drift off. Anxiety can have an impact on our ability to fall asleep easily. To help you out, we are giving you tips to get to sleep when you’re feeling anxious.

It was recently found by Aviva that just 17 per cent of us get a healthy eight hours sleep each night. Not getting enough sleep at night can leave us feeling irritable, sluggish and can affect our brain’s performance. In the long term, sleep deficiency is also linked to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke.

Unfortunately, for a lot of people, it’s not a simple and easy solution of just getting more sleep or going to bed earlier. Mental health conditions can make it very hard to get to sleep.

If you suffer from anxiety, it is hard to get your brain to switch off. When you are feeling panicky, tense and on edge your brain wants to remain alert, not relax. When you are unable to relax, it makes it impossible to drift off to sleep. But instead of staring at the ceiling and working yourself up more about the fact you aren’t asleep, try these tips to help you drift off.

Essential oil diffuser

Essential oil diffusers are amazing for creating a relaxing and zen atmosphere in the home to calm the body and mind. They work by releasing essential oils into the air which are then inhaled when you sit or sleep near it. The good thing about them is, you can swap and change what oils you put in it, depending on your mood and how you’re feeling. There are so many different essential oils, all with different benefits. For anxiety, the most powerful and effective oils include; Lavender, Ylang Ylang, Frankincense and Geranium.

Sleep stories

Being read a story whilst you fall asleep is somewhat nostalgic. The Calm app is filled with tales read by different people, all with THE most calming voices. There is a mix of all different types of stories, all with the aim of helping you nod off. All of us here at TOTM use it to help us drift off. Trust us, they work miracles! Some examples of ones they have are; Well-known Fairytales, Rundown of Sheep Breeds, The Rules of Cricket Explained and The Shipping Forecast.

Switch off devices

Browsing through Instagram before bed makes our brain more alert and prevents us from relaxing and winding down before bed. If you are scrolling through Instagram and find you are comparing yourself to others, it can leave you overthinking. This makes it hard to switch off and fall asleep. This can also make you feel more groggy in the morning. Also, the blue light emitted by your phone screen prevents the brain from releasing melatonin. When these levels decrease, it makes it harder for us to fall asleep.

Switch off your phone at least an hour before bed and opt for a book instead. Make sure this is a physical book and not on a kindle! On iPhone’s, there is the ability to schedule downtime. This stops you accessing your apps and receiving notifications, having a positive impact on your ability to fall asleep.

Nadi Shodhana breathing

Nadi Shodhana, also known as ‘alternative nostril breathing’, is an effective way to restore balance. It is particularly effective at easing racing thoughts if you are experiencing anxiety or struggling to fall asleep.

Here’s how to do it:

1) Sit up tall, ensuring you lengthen your spine and open your chest.
2) Rest your pointer and middle finger on your right hand between your eyebrows to keep your hand stable as you do the movement.
3) Using your right thumb, close your right nostril. As you do this, slowly and inhale through the left nostril.
4) Keeping this nostril closed and still slowly inhaling, close your left nostril with your ring finger.
5) Remove your right thumb from your right nostril and slowly breathe out.
6) Inhale in through your right nostril slowly.
7) Hold both nostrils closed again.
8) Keep your right nostril closed and remove your ring finger from your left nostril, exhaling slowly.

Repeat this a minimum of 5 times. Remember breathing slowly is key here!


ASMR or Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response has been getting a LOT of attention. For those of you who don’t know, it is a sensation that moves down the body in response to a series of specific gentle stimulus. These are renown for helping people relax and making them feel sleepy. The stimulus is sounds such as tapping, scratching and whispering voices. You can find hundreds of ASMR videos on YouTube!

We hope these tips help you relax and drift off to sleep easier! For tips to help you sleep on your period check out our blog post.

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