For much of my life, I have struggled with sleep issues. Due to the relentless nightmares [VIDEO] and continuous anxiety, falling asleep became a normal uphill battle for me. It not only became very difficult to fall asleep but also to stay asleep. Some nights I got no more than a couple hours of sleep, which then affected the entire following day. As the insomnia continued, my lack of sleep began to affect my daily functions more and more. Finally, enough was enough. I decided to take matters into my own hands and make some changes.

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If you or someone you know, is struggling with insomnia due to anxiety or other issues, just know, there is hope. Here are 10 tips that helped me beat the nightmares and anxiety, allowing me to gain a more restful sleep.

1. Be consistent Stick with a regular bedtime and wake time

The first, and perhaps the most important step I took was getting and sticking with a routine that fit my time and schedule. Mandating a specific bedtime and wake time is very important, as it allows your body to set an Internal Clock that thrives on consistency. Once that internal clock is set, your body will be able to naturally tell you when it needs rest and when it is ready to get up.

According to helpguide.org, "one of the best ways to start is by picking a bedtime at a time in which you are naturally tired so you’re not tossing and turning. If you’re getting enough sleep, you should be able to wake up without an alarm. If an alarm is needed, it may mean you need an earlier bedtime."

The beginning stages of this process might require some trial and error, but finding the right bedtime and wake time that fits best with your sleep habits and a schedule is key.

However, finding these times and not sticking to them will do you no good. The best way to get the most out of your sleep time is to stick by your plan and be consistent. Lack of consistency in this area could result in failure to break the cycle of insomnia that you experience. Here [VIDEO] are some more ways to set your internal clock so that you can go to sleep and wake up on time.

Avoid sleeping in or staying up late

Sleeping in and staying up late will only alter that internal clock you are setting for yourself. When you aren’t consistent with your sleep and wake time, the internal clock cannot stay regulated, thus affecting how and when you go to sleep and wake up. Again, staying consistent in these times will allow your body to naturally gage when it should rest, and when it should get up. In essence, if you are inconsistent, even on the weekends, with what time you are waking and going to sleep, your internal clock cannot be managed or set. By avoiding the desire to stay up late and/or sleep in, your body is more able to naturally fight against the insomnia it experiences.

Plan and stick with a regular bedtime routine

By getting into and sticking with a regular bedtime routine, you send signals to your brain that tells your body that you are getting ready for bed soon. As The brain processes this routine information night after night, the body will naturally respond, thus helping further shut down stimulated systems.

Here is an example of my bedtime routine plan:

10:00 PM -- Shower

10:15 PM -- Put on PJs, take out contacts, brush teeth, take medicine

10:30 PM -- Journal, read the bible, pray

11:00 PM -- Go to sleep

When I made up this plan, it was helpful for me to work backwards. First, I determined what time I wanted to go to sleep. Next, I analyzed what I wanted and needed to do before bed. Then, I evaluated how long each task would take me, and set a time frame for each task(s). This is a very simple plan that I made up to allow myself to wind down while engaging that internal clock to start preparing my brain and body for rest.

There are many ideas you could use for your sleep routine plan. Here are some tasks and resources that you can use and incorporate into your bedtime routine.

  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Listing to music
  • Drawing
  • Knitting/crocheting
  • Guided Meditations
  • Light exercise (such as Yoga)

Decide what works best for you, make a plan, and stick to it!

2. Cut out technology

Watching TV or playing on your phone will not help you sleep. This type of interaction stimulates the brain, making it difficult to wind down. Avoiding things that will over stimulate you is key if we want to allow our internal clock to shut down bodily systems and brain functions for rest. In addition, shutting off harsh light and allowing dull and soft lights to be on as we are winding down is very helpful as well. This will allow our eyes and our brain to adjust more easily to the rest that is coming.

3. Use predictable noises

Turning on noises that soothe you can be very beneficial. When picking what to listen to, try and go with something that is predictable and soft. White noise, such as a fan, can be helpful. In addition, there are many apps you can use to customize and pick your own sounds that are pleasing and relaxing to you. Personally, I use RelaxMelodies to help soothe and relax my mind. This app allows me to customize my sounds, mix and match different sounds together, set timers, alarms, etc. There are plenty more apps that do that same. Pick one that is most beneficial to you and your rest. People can also choose to listen to music. Preferably soft music or perhaps instrumental music would be best in this case. Having predictable sounds play in the background as you go to sleep can be very helpful, because monotonous sounds allows little brain power to process and recognize.

4. Writing/journaling

For those with anxiety, this could be alifesaverr. If you are like me, I lie awake with my head spinning as it tries to understand and process different events throughout my day. Instead of trying to internally process everything, try getting it all down on paper in the form of journaling or even drawing. Word vomit. Doodle. Spit it out. Give the paper all your worries, frustrations, mistakes, joys, etc. Don’t let any junk stay cooped up inside you. By getting it all down on paper, you are allowing yourself to physically “give it away” so that it cannot remain stuck inside of you. Give the paper and pencil your anxiety so that it cannot be on your shoulders anymore. Relax in that your entire days’ worth of stresses, frustrations, and worries, and general anxiety is not yours to carry anymore. Take a deep breath, and deeply allow yourself to transfer all that’s bottled up inside you to the paper. Then, if you want, put it somewhere safe or throw it away. Either way, don’t allow it to take up anymore of your thinking space or time.

5. Cut out naps

Naps can greatly interfere with your ability to fall asleep at night. Therefore, it’s best to eliminate naps altogether. When you feel tired throughout the day, try doing something that energizes or stimulates you. By eliminating naps, you are helping your internal clock recognize that it’s tired when it’s bedtime, thus helping you sleep. If you take a nap during the day, and are not tired at your usual bedtime, it means that the nap affected your internal clock, thus affecting everything else about the normal sleep patterns you had established. It could mean you wake up more frequently during the night and how much quality sleep you will get. Once your internal clock has been tampered with, it takes work to get it back on track. Therefore, play it safe by eliminating naps!

6. Exercise

Exercising is a proven way to help reduce anxiety and depression. By making exercise part of your normal daily routine, you can help lower your anxiety, ergo, helping you sleep better later. The exercise you choose to do does not have to be vigorous or long. It can be a relaxing 30 minutes of yoga, a light mile run, or a form of weight lifting. Whatever you choose to do, analyze your levels of anxiety and decide whether or not that form of exercise helped you. If so, try and make it part of your daily routine. If it did not help you, try and come up with another form of exercise that might be more beneficial.

7. Be smart about what you consume before bed

Being wary about what you eat or drink before bed is very important. It might even seem obvious, but stay away from drinks that are caffeinated. Sodas, coffee, and energy drinks are all substances to avoid before bed. In addition, stay away from sugary foods and snacks. These types of foods and drinks can act as a stimulant to the body, thus making it harder to sleep. In addition, it makes it more difficult for your body to shut down and prepare for rest while digesting food. Therefore, by avoiding late night snacks and drinks, especially the sugary and caffeinated ones, you allow your body to easily engage in the winding down process you planned.

8. Reconfigure/rethink your sleep environment if need be

What do you use your bedroom for? Studying? Working? Paying bills? When you get accustomed to working and busying yourself in your bedroom, it automatically becomes a stimulated space where your brain thinks about doing those things. However, when you reserve your bedroom for only sleep, it becomes a peaceful space for you to relax and enjoy. This will help you wind down as you engage in your daily sleep routine.

9. Try to deal with stressors during the day

By fully dealing with problems and stressors during your day, you decrease your chances of fretting and lamenting over it later. This will greatly help with the anxiety. When you take care of problems in the moment without carrying it with you throughout the day, not only does it decrease your anxiety, but it also helps with other mental illnesses like depression. Deal with your problems as best as you can throughout the day, so you are not dealing with them later while you’re trying to fall asleep.

10. Don't be afraid to seek medical help

There are some things we cannot change. If you try all these tips and still aren’t sleeping well, it could be a sign that you need medical help. Set up an appointment with your doctor to talk about your sleep issues, habits, and needs. For me, I take a sleep medication and a nightmare medication. However, just because I take these medications, does not mean that I don’t continue practicing these tips. Sometimes, our bodies need a little extra help through medications, but practicing good sleep habits are still a big step that are important to continue.