What to do if the news keeps you up at night

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If you’ve ever experienced insomnia from anxiety over world events, here are a few possible solutions for those long sleepless nights.

When I first read about the Titan submersible shortly after it went missing, I knew it was going to be a long night.

I happened to see the news story around 10 pm, as I was getting ready to go to bed. But sleep was a lost cause after I read about it. I felt very worried and upset about the news story, so anxiety-induced insomnia took over and I ended up awake past 4 am, alternating between trying to sleep and following the latest news on the submersible.

Troubling news stories induce insomnia for me from time to time, unfortunately. I thought this was unusual, but it turns out I’m far from the only person to experience this kind of thing

Recent research finds that major news events can have global impacts on sleep that are associated with significant fluctuations in the public’s collective mood and well-being.

If you’ve ever experienced insomnia from anxiety over world events, I know the feeling, and I’m sending you so much solidarity. I’ve also figured out a few things that can help. Based on my own experience, here are a few possible solutions if the news keeps you up at night regularly.

1AVOID READING THE NEWS AFTER DINNER

They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so I’ve tried to head off anxiety-induced insomnia by not reading the news in the evening before bed. I want to be informed, of course, but I can just as easily read about world events in the morning, when upsetting news stories won’t dominate my mind as I’m trying to fall asleep. 

2PRAY FOR THOSE INVOLVED

A friend told me once that every time she has had unexplained insomnia, she found out the next day that there was someone who was in need of prayers at the same time that she couldn’t sleep. I’m not surprised, as there is always someone out there in need of prayers!

If a specific news story is bothering me, I try to pray for those involvedPraying the rosary in particular is very calming, and we know it’s a powerful prayer for those in need. 

3TAKE DEEP BREATHS

I once heard this cute kids’ song: “When I want to feel happy, I just breathe!” accompanied by some slow, deep breathing. Taking slow, deep breaths can be very calming and help us to regulate our emotions, so I try to do breathwork when I’m struggling with anxiety and insomnia

4PLAY BROWN NOISE

There are a number of noise apps, podcast apps, and music apps with tracks that last up to 9 hours. You can choose among sounds like wind, waves, a crackling fire, crickets, a rainstorm, a moving train, and even fan noises. These sounds can soothe you to sleep quickly.

5LISTEN TO A VERY DULL AUDIOBOOK

Playing an audiobook about a complex subject that you have difficulty following is a sure bet for sleep for some people.

With apologies to all the philosophers out there, one of our editors recommends listening to Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason from LibriVox, played at half speed on a low volume, saying, “It is like being in the most boring college lecture you have ever attended in your life.” It’s worth a try!

6SPEAK TO A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL

Of course, if your insomnia is becoming chronic or worrisome, it is always a good idea to speak to your doctor. They may recommend medication or some other form of treatment.

woman sleeping peacefully

wavebreakmedia | altered by Aleteia

The news cycle is so relentless in today’s world that it can be very hard to step back and disconnect. Yet countless people are very affected by reading upsetting news. There is nothing wrong with doing what you need to do to protect your mental space.

Hopefully these ideas can help all of us to get better sleep. 

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