Because my anxiety is at its very worst first thing in the morning, it has occurred to me from time to time that I might need to examine how I sleep. This seems to be paying off. Here are two of my bedroom essentials for a low-stress morning.
Memory Foam Pillow
The first thing I bought was a memory foam pillow. I had noticed months ago that my anxiety seemed to reside in that little knob where the neck connects to the back. I would begin to feel a tingle or a burn there, and it would then spread to other areas of my body. After several nights, I noticed that, with my regular pillow, I was sleeping with my neck and shoulders all scrunched up. Spending eight hours in that position certainly couldn’t help. So, as this was an experiment, I went to Target and purchased the cheapest contoured pillow that I could find. (Specialty pillows can be very expensive!) I’m pleased to say that it seems to be doing the trick! I’m waking up with less anxiety in my body. It’s not gone, but it is noticeably less.
Weighted blankets and vests have long been used by occupational therapists working with autistic clients. Wrapping a child up in one of these items has the ability to calm them during tantrums, often to the point of sleep. Similar are thunder shirts, which are manufactured for pets who become anxious during thunderstorms. Temple Grandin pioneered the use of Deep Touch Pressure, the concept these blankets are based off of, with the invention of her squeeze machine.
Lately, I had been seeing advertisements on facebook and instagram for weighted blankets, not marketed for children, but for adults with anxiety and PTSD. Studies have been done on the use of blankets for both autism and ADHD as well as anxiety. Scientists hypothesize that when pressure points of the body are stimulated that the brain produces serotonin, an important neurotransmitter.
The recommendation is that the blanket weigh 10% of the user’s body weight. This blanket is only 12 lbs, but I find that to be sufficient.
It may be premature to say, as I only received this yesterday, but I LOVE THIS THING. I slept very well last night. I woke up in the middle of the night, as my cat likes to disturb my sleep by grooming my face, but I was able to fall right back asleep. And, for the past couple of weeks, my body has been waking me up by 5:30 AM, and I try to keep myself in bed until 6:30. This morning, I woke up at 5:00 AM, fell back asleep, had a dream, and then awoke at 7:00!
Well, maybe you were just tired, you might say.
Nope! No matter how late I had been going to sleep or how tired I was, my body was waking up consistently before 6AM. Then, I would just have a very tired day.
The anxiety in my body when I awoke was also significantly less. I would go as far as to say it was 40 to 50% less. I almost didn’t need my walk to release my jitters this morning!
Attending to my sleep has proven to be just as useful as keeping a morning routine.