How To Sleep Your Way To Being Stress Free
I just thought you should know.
Do you know what one of the most effective ways to de-stress is? I’ll let you in on a little secret - It’s sleeping. Yes, of course exercise is great it helps get your body moving and meditation is a wonderful tool, because it helps get your mind in sync. But the best thing you can do to regularly stress less is to get a good night’s worth of sleep.
Think about it; you already know this is true. How much harder does life in general feel after a night when you’re up with the kids or working until the crack of dawn to finish an important project?
You’re grumpy, it’s hard to focus, and every little problem suddenly feels insurmountable. On those days, you feel a lot more stressed throughout the day and it only gets progressively worse if you end up not sleeping well for several days in a row.
Now here’s the interesting part. Many of us don't get the optimal amount of sleep at night, and even when we do, our sleep quality often isn’t great. Many of us struggle with falling asleep and too often our sleep is disrupted throughout the night, even if we don’t fully wake up.
Studies have shown that a lack of proper sleep can affect every aspect of your life. According to NIH, poor sleep can lead to:
Impaired Decision Making
High Blood Pressure
Lower Immune System
Difficulty Controlling Emotions
And Kidney Disease among other things.
While having a good night’s sleep can help with:
Improved Immune System Functioning
With all that being said, thankfully there are quite a few things you can do to improve both the quantity and quality of your sleep. Now, before you tell yourself that you don’t have the time for more sleep, it’s important that you realize that not focusing on sleep now will cause you to be less focused and productive later on.
In the long run, you’ll actually get more done by investing time into a good-night sleep. It’s one way of managing your stress before your stress manages you.
Below are three easy things that you can do to work on improving your ability to sleep and there by manage your stress. Besides the tactics listed below, consider using a sleep diary such as the one on NIH’s website to monitor the quality and quantity of your sleep each day.
Good Sleep Hygiene - Otherwise Known As Good Sleep Habits
Everyone has to start somewhere and one of the easiest ways to improve your sleep is to establish a bedtime or evening routine. Start by going to bed at the same time every night, even on the weekends. It helps your body get into a rhythm that makes falling asleep and staying asleep easier.
You can also create relaxing rituals as part of your nightly routine. Take an aromatherapy bath or warm shower; read (not on an electronic device) for 20 minutes to an hour before turning in for the night; journal about the things that you’re grateful for or journal about your life in general; write out your to-do list for the next day; or listen to music; whatever activity you enjoy that’s relaxing and rejuvenating.
Cut the distractions from your bedroom. That means leaving your phone in the living room. If you need an alarm, consider buying an alarm clock. Why? You don’t want those alerts and notifications to keep you from getting into those all-important deep rem sleep zones.
Here’s an experiment to try. Turn off the lights and take a good look around your bedroom. Are there any small indicator or blinking lights? Try to remove them or turn them around if possible.
Listen for any sounds from your electronics. Maybe you can unplug them while you sleep. Or consider having a white noise machine to help those sounds move into the background so that you can sleep. It’s important to make your bedroom an oasis of quiet so that you can get your rest.
Ban The Blue Light
Finally, try to keep track of your screen time at night. Our eyes and the way they process light, including the light waves from our screens has a big impact on the body’s alertness.
Many of us (myself included) have developed a habit of looking at our phones at night while in bed instead of trying to go to sleep. Biologically this is the equivalent of watching the sunrise. It’s important to stop telling your body it’s time to get up when in reality; you’re trying to go to sleep.
Instead, focus on calming activities. Reduce screen time for a few hours before bed; consider investing glasses that filter blue light or install an app that changes your display at night.
So there you have it. Three easy ways to help you increase your sleep so that you stress less. It’s all about making time.
Let’s talk, what’s the one thing that you’re gonna do tonight to increase your sleep hygiene? Let me know in the comments section.
Cassandra Martin-Himmons is a trainer, wellness coach and consultant who believes in empowering her clients and providing the tools that they need to make positive changes in their lives to manage their stress and increase their self-care. In her spare time, she enjoys papercrafting, volunteering and travel. Connect with her on Instagram or Linked/In