What to do if You’re Too Stressed to Sleep
Stress is an enemy of sleep. When you’re stressed, you’re more likely to get less sleep. And that’s a problem, because getting healthy sleep can help you better manage stress throughout the day.
When you’re stressed, it’s hard to fall asleep and stay asleep. Feeling stressed puts your mind on alert and into a state of hyperarousal, and results in elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol. In this state, you’re simply too wired to drift off to sleep easily.
Using Relaxation to Get Better Sleep
Training your body to calm down and relax at night can help you alleviate stress and get better sleep at night. When you trigger the relaxation response, you can mitigate insomnia, and counteract the wear of stress on the body at a genetic level. The relaxation response slows brain wave patterns, improves sleep and energy, decreases muscle tension, slows your heart rate, and lowers your blood pressure. Overall, it can offer an improved sense of well being.
Bedtime Habits That Can Counteract Stress
Maintaining healthy sleep habits can help you counteract the effects of stress and improve your ability to rest at night. Try these habits that can make your nights more restful and relaxing:
Maintain a regular bedtime routine.
Going through the same steps each night can be calming. This habit is also useful for training your brain and body to slow down and get ready to sleep. What you do during your bedtime routine isn’t as important as simply going through your routine each night before bed and staying consistent. It can be as simple as brushing your teeth, putting on pajamas, and reading a book before lights out.
Practice yoga before bed.
Before you go to sleep, go through a few light yoga poses. Focus on poses that can help you feel calm and stretch your body to improve circulation and a sense of well being. This is a great way to release muscle tension and get to bed with a more positive mindset. You can even do some yoga poses on your mattress just before bed.
Also, attending yoga classes through the week can help you to manage stress levels so that you feel more relaxed when you go to bed.
Practice mindfulness meditation.
Whether combined with yoga or not, mindfulness meditation can help you clear your mind and let go of the stress and anxiety of the day. Consider progressive muscle relaxation, mindful breathing, or counting meditation to relax and drift off to sleep.
Shut down screen time.
Checking email, social media, or just watching TV can interfere with healthy sleep. Taking your phone to bed is a bad habit, and can make it difficult for you to disconnect. Further, the light from screens can interfere with your circadian rhythm, confusing your brain with signals that it’s daytime and time to be awake instead of getting to sleep. It’s best to stop screen time at least an hour before bed.
Manage Stress throughout the day.
The best way to stop stress from interfering with your sleep at night is to manage it well throughout the day. Consider therapy, using a worry journal, and practicing healthy habits including exercise, relaxation techniques, and good time management.
So if you are struggling to get to sleep at night, try these simple techniques for a more restful and restorative night.
This guest article was written by the Sleep Experts at Tuck Sleep Foundations.