Whether you have had sleep anxiety most of your life or it just popped up out of nowhere, you know the stress that sleep anxiety can cause. Many studies have been done about reducing sleep anxiety but one method I have personally found helpful is using your 5 senses. Using your 5 senses and only focusing on one at a time, can really help ground you. Anxiety can make our minds spin out of control but when we focus on one small thing at a time, it helps bring our thoughts to the moment we are in now and not to all the hypothetical situations racing around in our brains.
Take a few minutes focusing on only 1 sense at a time.
Things that you see - While you are laying in bed, focus only on what you see around you. Maybe your room is dark and you can only see the street lights making shadows on your wall. Focus on that, notice the texture on your wall or how the colors in your room have dulled into darkness. Really take your time and focus on what you see. Absorb all the colors, textures, and shapes around you. If this sounds boring, it is! We want your mind to be in a calm bored state instead of racing around.
Things that you hear - Now change your focus to what you hear. Close your eyes and listen to the sounds in your room. Maybe it is the cars passing by on your street or the soft white noise of a fan in your room. Take the time to only focus on what you hear. Let your thoughts only be on what you hear. See if you can hear the breeze outside. Slow down your thoughts and listen to your breath going in and out.
Things you feel - With your eyes still closed, focus now on what you feel. Do you feel the softness of your blankets? Do you notice the weight of your body on the mattress? Can you feel the soft wind of the fan? Let your brain notice all the little things you feel.
Things you taste - Switch gears now and focus on your taste. Do you have the clean, cool taste of toothpaste? If you take a big breath, can you taste it more? Think of the things you tasted that day. Let your thoughts slow down while you notice the taste.
Things you smell - Last sense to focus on now. Take some slow deep breaths and focus on what you smell. Can you still smell what you cooked for dinner? Can you smell the clean pillowcase? Can you smell the sweet smell of your shampoo and conditioner? Do you notice the smell of the face wash and lotion you used while getting ready for bed? Let your sense of smell really kick in and notice those smells.
Notice how you feel now that you have used all of your senses one at a time. Do you feel calmer? Are your eyes heavier and ready to close? I sure hope so! If not, go through your senses again. Some days are just harder than others to slow down your thoughts and anxieties. Remember, ask for help if you are having a hard time with anxiety! You are not alone in this struggle and there are tools out there that can help you.