So, you return home after a long day at work. You finish dinner, do the dishes, and get ready for bedtime. You can’t wait to fall asleep and prepare yourself for another day of your routine life.
But then sleep evades you. As you toss and turn in your bed, a plethora of negative thoughts start crossing your mind. Before you know, it’s way past midnight and you somehow manage to force yourself to catch some sleep.
The next morning, you wake up groggy and feel uninspired to carry on with your day. You struggle to keep pace with deadlines, causing more stress, and ultimately, affecting your sleep yet again.
It’s a vicious cycle, isn’t it?
Sleep & Stress: The Real Picture
Today’s hectic and fast-paced lifestyle has made stress and anxiety a part and parcel of human life. Although stress is your body’s natural response to adverse situations, chronic stress can take a toll on your physical and mental wellbeing.
While there are many ways in which stress manifests itself in our daily lives, sleep troubles are likely the most common outcome. It’s because stress evokes your body’s natural “flight or fight” response in the form of:
- Elevated heart rate
- Faster breathing
- Increased levels of stress hormones (cortisol)
All these factors, in turn, contribute to the lack of sound sleep at night. It isn’t surprising that roughly 33% of American adults have difficulty getting proper sleep.
Nevertheless, getting proper sleep is essential for your body and mind. It helps your body repair, recover, and perform various physiological functions. Also, it’s instrumental in helping your mind relax and prepare for the challenges of your daily life.
This means not getting enough sleep will make you feel more stressed, which, in turn, will further affect your sleeping pattern. Before you start losing your sleep over this, here are a few useful stress management tips to help you sleep better:
1. Establish a Bedtime Routine
If you have a history of sleep disorder, it’s a good idea to create a relaxing bedtime routine. The idea is to unwind your body and mind and prepare for sleep. To begin with, try going to bed at a fixed time every day. Dim the lights of your bedroom as early as evening and try practicing mindfulness meditation.
Alternatively, you could engage in some deep breathing exercises to relax your mind. Read a few pages of a new novel or try chanting a Buddhist mantra. The key is to establish cues that tell your brain when it’s time to sleep.
As a ground-rule, keep wakeful activities, such as working, studying, eating, etc. out of your bedroom. Also, make sure you get plenty of natural light during the day to help your brain distinguish between daytime and bedtime.
2. Try a Weighted Blanket
Doesn’t it feel great when a friend comforts you with a tight hug while you’re feeling stressed? Well, you can’t count on your loved ones to be around whenever stress-inducing thoughts invade your mind during bedtime. This is where a weighted blanket steps into the picture.
It simulates the effect of being hugged or swaddled, thereby reducing anxiety and stress. This, in turn, relaxes your body, calms your mind, and ensures proper sleep. If you’ve been struggling with a chronic sleep disorder, it’s about time you consider using a weighted blanket.
It is, however, crucial to select the right weighted blanket for your body. From a 10 pound weighted blanket to a 25 pound blanket – you’ll find a wide array of options. A simple technique is to choose a blanket that weighs 10% of your body weight.
3. Sip Some Chamomile Tea
Ditch that mug of coffee for a cup of soothing chamomile tea. Made using dried chamomile flowers, chamomile tea offers a wide range of health benefits. It’s known for its anti-inflammatory properties and helps treat chronic ailments, such as diabetes and hypertension.
Also, chamomile tea is rich in apigenin, an antioxidant that relieves anxiety and promotes sleep. So, the next time you’re struggling to fall asleep, pour yourself a cup of warm chamomile tea and drink it while listening to some relaxing music.
4. Limit Screen Time
The last thing you want before bedtime is the harmful blue light from electronic devices, such as smartphones, tablets, and computers. Resist the temptation to check your Instagram feed just before going to bed. Otherwise, you could easily end up in a scrolling frenzy in the middle of the night, which, in turn, will aggravate stress and anxiety.
5. Try Journalling
Penning your negative thoughts and emotions is a great way of channeling stress, anxiety, anger, and frustration. Write an account of how your day went and what’s bothering you. Also, make a list of the positive things that happened throughout the day and how they affected you.