How to Sleep Better When You are Stressed
Stress can take a major toll on both your body and mind. Being stressed isn’t just a matter of mental condition but can also have many physical signs such as headaches, stomach pain, rapid heartbeat, and insomnia.
Lingering insomnia can compound the problem as you toss and turn at night, thinking about all the things that might be stressing you out. This creates a cycle in which your next day becomes even worse as you will be tired but will likely have tasks that you need to perform. Even though these days can take everything out of you, you may still find it difficult to sleep no matter how exhausted you feel.
Fortunately, there are some ways to relieve your stress throughout the day and at night to help put your body and mind in a better position to fall asleep, and, more importantly, stay asleep. If you’ve been stressed out due to work or personal issues, consider some of the tips below to ensure that you are getting a good night’s rest.
Turn the Screens Off
Today, we are surrounded by screens – both large and small – that connect us to our friends, families, partners, and the rest of the world. While they have made life more convenient and provided us with endless options for entertainment, they can also contribute to stress and disturb our sleep patterns. Set a time, ideally a few hours before bed, that you will turn off all your screens and try to disconnect from technology.
This will benefit you in two ways. First, you’ll likely be stepping away from many of the situations that are causing you stress in your daily life. These could be work emails, negative texts from friends, or even related to the news. By removing yourself from these, you’ll help to ease your mind and calm your body in the hours before bed. An added benefit is that your eyes will be able to adjust to the darker nighttime, preparing you better physically to sleep through the night. When you fall asleep looking at the bright lights on your screens, you can cause disruptions in the most important cycles of your sleep.
Get Regular Exercise
It can seem like a tall task to get to the gym when you are already tired, but your body will thank you for it. Even if you only have time for a moderate 20-minute cardio session, you’ll be doing yourself a favor in the long run. Exercise is proven to relieve both physical and mental tension, and it can even help you think more clearly throughout the day. On top of this, it will help to burn off negative energy that might manifest itself later at night when you are trying to sleep (problems like restless legs, tossing and turning, and an overactive mind).
Meditation is a powerful technique to help you manage your stress and keep you sharp throughout the day. Meditation before bed can go a long way in calming you down, but it can also be useful in the morning. If you have a big day of meetings or stress-inducing events, take 5-10 minutes in the morning to meditate and clear your mind. You’ll find that much of your tension will be relieved, which will make for an easier day overall.
There are many apps that can help you with guided meditations. These are very useful if you’ve never attempted it before, as they will teach you the breathing techniques necessary to help calm your jittering nerves. It’s not so much about ridding your life of all stressful events, but more so preparing yourself for what is ahead of you and allowing you to focus on the positive aspects of your day.
Cut out Caffeine and Alcohol
Caffeine might help you wake up in the morning, and a drink or two at night may relax you and help you fall asleep initially, but both can have negative effects on your sleep as well as your mental well-being. Depending on how sensitive you are to caffeine, you may find that it triggers stressful reactions after drinking it. Try to limit your intake to one cup in the morning so that it is well out of your system by the time you go to sleep.
Alcohol can help make you drowsy, but it doesn’t make you sleep better. In fact, it can cause your sleep to become fragmented and make you restless throughout the night. This wreaks havoc on your sleep cycles and causes you to be more tired in the morning, even if you were in bed for a longer period than usual. The effects of over-imbibing can also cause additional stress the next day.
If you can’t fall asleep, get out of bed
Whether you’re having trouble with your ability to fall asleep or stay asleep, you shouldn’t lie in bed for too long, trying to fall back asleep. Even in the middle night, it can be beneficial to get up and walk around for a bit or find something to read (paper materials preferred, of course).
Staying in bed only causes you to worry more about tomorrow and will keep you up longer than if you do something that will tire you out. You may also consider keeping a journal and writing down your thoughts if they are waking you up. This can be a cathartic experience that helps you to put your stress in perspective and clear your mind.
Try Nighttime Teas
Now that you’ve cut out alcohol, you can replace it with something more beneficial at night – tea. There are many relaxing teas on the market that will help to naturally calm your nerves and work throughout the night to keep you asleep. Chamomile is a popular nighttime tea and can be mixed with magnesium powder for an extra calming effect. Just make sure that you aren’t using any teas with caffeine, as that will have the opposite effect.