How to Beat Late-Night Anxiety for a Good Night’s Sleep

The relationship between sleeplessness and anxiety is a mutually destructive one. Anxiety is known for causing sleeping problems, and lack of sleep can cause anxiety disorders. It doesn’t really matter which comes first – the anxiety or the sleeplessness – as the two can continue to dance in a seemingly endless cycle. Ending the dance means breaking the cycle, and a number of tips may help.


Exercise is often at the top of the list for helping with a number of conditions, and that includes both sleeplessness and anxiety. Regular aerobic exercise and strength training have been shown to reduce anxiety as well as improve sleep, although you want to complete any exercises at least one hour before retiring. Thanks to the relaxing stretching and breathing involved, yoga is another stress-busting exercise that can help sleep come more easily.

Establish a Routine

Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, even on weekends, gets your body into a familiar rhythm. You can also set up a routine you follow right before bed to unwind, relax and best prepare your body and mind for slumber. Taking a warm bath, listening to soothing music, reading, meditating and deep breathing exercises are ideal ways to relax.

Mind Your Melatonin

Melatonin is the hormone that regulates your sleep-wake cycle. If its production is disrupted, your sleep cycle can be disrupted, too. Spending at least 30 minutes a day outdoors in the daylight can help set a nighttime pattern.

Avoiding electronic devices near bedtime can help as well. The blue light from many screens tends to trick the brain into thinking its daytime, making it harder to fall asleep. Checking your tablet, phone or watching TV also stimulates the brain, making you more active and awake.

Get Up and Do Something

Give yourself 20 minutes to fall asleep. If sleep doesn’t come, get up and do something relaxing. Restart the bedtime routine you’ve established, ensuring you keep the light low. Lying awake in bed, unable to sleep, gives your brain too much time to start a stream of anxious thoughts and worries.

File Away the Anxious Thoughts 

When plagued by streams of anxious thoughts, Healthline suggests a visualization exercise you can try to get them out of your brain. Imagine a table with a batch of file folders spread out on top of it. Each file is labeled with one of thoughts running through your mind. Every thought that comes up gets its own file.

Now imagine picking up each file, one by one, acknowledging its importance, and then filing it away in a cabinet next to the table. As you file each thought in the cabinet, you’re giving your brain a cue that all thoughts have been examined, nothing is wrong at the moment and the brain can finally relax.

Anxiety can be more noticeable at night since you don’t have the same distractions you have during the day. Giving your mind something to think about – other than things that induce anxiety – may bring relief. Combine the visualization with regular daily exercise, a bedtime routine that preps your body for sleep, and you may find sleep comes faster, easier and more blissfully.