I don't know about you, but when I turn off the light at night and close my eyes, sleep couldn't be further away. Suddenly everything that needs to be done, what happened during the day, and of course how I embarrassed myself that time three years ago are swirling around in my head, riling me up rather than letting me sink blissfully into sleep.
This is life for a lot of people, but especially the ones with anxiety.
But I have found the one thing that helps put me to sleep above everything else.
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Listen to an audiobook
Actually it's the simplest thing! Listen to an audiobook when you go to bed.
Told you it was simple! It's such an easy solution that you might even be rolling your eyes at me right now. There's no way it could be such an easy fix, right?
While it's of course nothing I can promise 100%, maybe it can work for you too!
Photo by Yuris Alhumaydy
How and why does it work?
My biggest problem is usually that my thoughts never stop. The beauty of listening to an audiobook is that it takes over your focus. Instead of scolding yourself about what you should have done differently during the day you get drawn into someone else's story, another world where whatever you did or didn't do doesn't matter. It's the same principle of counting sheep, but way more entertaining! I actually look forward to drifting off listening to a chapter of my current book.
Of course I can't promise that it will work all the time. It's not magic, and some days are just impossible. But this is something I use almost every single night, and have for years, for a reason!
Just be careful not to disturb any bed- or roommates. You can have earbuds if that's comfortable for you, or let it play over the speakers just loud enough that you can hear it comfortably. Me and my boyfriend both listen to audiobooks to fall asleep and we have mastered the art of not disturbing the other. Or maybe just learned to ignore the other book. Either way, it works. ;)
Photo by Alphacolor 13
How to do it right
Pick the right book.
It's important to listen to something that you want to listen to. If you're not that interested in it, you will keep thinking of your own life and we're back where we started.
It can also be a good idea to pick a book that you have read or listened to before. If I try to listen to a new book, I get so into the story that I want to stay awake and hear more. Go with something you know! Right now I'm listening to The Hobbit over and over.
Make sure it doesn't run all night.
When I first started this practice I listened to a book on YouTube that ran in nine-hour segments. I kept waking up exhausted, because my brain was still processing even though I was asleep. Now I stick to books that are divided up in one-hour chunks. YouTube is great for this, but Audible also has a function where you can set a timer for up to an hour or until the end of the chapter. This way you can easily pick up where you drifted off the next night.
Set your phone to night-shift mode.
One of the worst things you can do for your sleep is to look at your phone shortly before going to bed. The bright light disturbs your circadian rhythm, makes you produce less of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, and lessens the amount of time you spend in REM sleep.
An easy fix (but you should still try to stay off your electronics as much as possible before sleep) is to set a night-shift mode on your phone, where it lowers the screen brightness and also changes to warmer colors compared to the normal, harsh blue one. This way you never have to remember it, either, since it does it automatically!
You can also wear computer glasses to protect your eyes. I gave my bf an inexpensive pair from Eyekepper for Christmas, since he plays games late into the night, and he loves them. :)
Also make sure to put your phone facedown to limit the amount of light in your bedroom, even if it's in night mode. Start your audiobook and then hide your phone!
Photo by Radu Marcusu
Where to get your audiobooks
When I was growing up I had some books on CD. Switching between fifteen CDs to get through a book was a hassle, but luckily we don't have to worry about that anymore! Here are my favorite ways to get audiobooks:
The trouble can be finding books in one-hour chunks, but at least it's free. This is where I found The Hobbit and Harry Potter in Swedish!
I have Spotify premium so I don't have to deal with ads, so I usually listen to Pride & Prejudice now. They have a sleep timer too!
I'm sure you've heard of Kindle Unlimited, but did you know that you also get unlimited access to thousands of audiobooks? Best of two worlds, I say!
The Audible package is pretty awesome too. You get one free audiobook every month, you get additional books for 30% off, and you get to keep your audiobooks forever, even if you cancel!
Dealing with anxiety is so much worse when you're sleep deprived. That's why we need to do our best to get proper sleep, like creating a calming atmosphere with lavender. I really hope that this technique will work out for you, and I wish you the best of dreams. :)
Hi, I'm Erika!
I know what it's like living with anxiety and depression, but living and living are very different things. I believe in practical tips and methods, and I will use them to help you be the brave, daring, darling individual you are.
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