8 TIPS FOR GETTING A GOOD NIGHT'S SLEEP WHEN UNDER STRESS
Sleep has a big impact on our health and well-being. It is essential to allow our brains to recharge and bodies to rest and reset for the day ahead.
But our lives have become busier and daily demands have grown, often leaving us stressed and exhausted by the end of the day. As a result, our brains are usually wired and have had little or no time to wind down and relax by the time we head to bed. And if you are feeling stressed, your regular sleep patterns and quality of sleep will probably be affected.
What do you do before bed? Take a moment to think about your bedtime habits.
Do they help you to wind down? Do you feel relaxed as you hop into bed?
Sleep is not something that just happens naturally. It’s not a switch that you can simply turn on and off. For most of us, it’s something we have to work on by creating a calm space that encourages sleepiness.
How much sleep should I aim for?
Everyone requires different amounts of sleep. This often depends on how much we squeeze into our day and the level of physical activity undertaken, but most adults need between 7-9 hours’ sleep in order to feel refreshed.
What can I do to improve my sleep quality?
Whether you only experience the occasional ‘bad’ night, or are going through a stressful and sleepless period, creating a good bedtime routine is essential if you want a refreshing night’s sleep.
There are many things that can help with stress-related sleep issues, but what works for one person may not work for the next. So it’s important to try different things until you establish a bedtime routine that works for you and you’re comfortable with.
The first step is to create a buffer time of around 30 minutes before bed to get yourself into a state of relaxation. It’s vital to prepare your mind and body to improve your quality of sleep.
Here are 8 tips for getting a good night’s sleep when under stress –
1. Write a to-do list – Write down everything that you need to do over the next few days. This exercise can help to clear your mind and allow you to go to sleep faster. It’s very common to go to bed and find your mind ticking way and trying to remember everything that needs your attention the next day.
2. Turn off your devices – It can be difficult to disconnect, but turning off your computer, tablet, and mobile phone at least one hour before bed is important towards a good night’s sleep. Did you know that the blue light from our devices suppresses melatonin – the hormone that makes us sleepy? And you don’t want that!
3. Avoid sugar and caffeine -The more tired and stressed you are, the more likely you are to crave excessive amounts of sugary foods and caffeine. Does this happen to you? If yes, it’s best to monitor and avoid these stimulants close to bedtime, as they can make it harder for you to wind down and prepare for sleep. Try having a camomile tea instead.
4. Avoid alcohol – If you consume alcohol as a way to relax after a stressful day, you might actually be causing a more disruptive deep sleep. While it can produce a sleepy effect in the short term, it’s not the best solution for quality sleep throughout the night.
5. Avoid exercising close to bedtime – While the evening is a popular time of the day to exercise and it’s great for your mind and body, I recommend avoiding it an hour before going to bed. Otherwise, similar to sugar and caffeine, it can actually stimulate your body and make it harder to fall asleep.
6. Have a consistent bedtime and wake up time – Everybody has a different internal sleep clock. Some people can easily go to bed at 10:00pm and wake up at 5:30am, while others prefer to go to bed at midnight and wake up at 7:00am. Whether you’re an early riser or a night owl, you’re more likely to function better and feel more refreshed if you go to bed and wake up at similar times each day. So having a ‘sleep-in’ on a Sunday morning can actually put your internal sleep clock out of whack and make it harder for you to go to bed at your normal pre-workday time.
7. Try breathing exercises – Deep breathing is a great way to lower stress in your body, as it sends a message to the brain to calm down and relax. While it can be done anytime, deep breathing is really effective in preparing your body for sleep. And if you wake up during the night, it’s also a great way to fall back to sleep.
Unsure how to breathe deeply? Try this –
Slowly take a deep breath in through your nose. Hold the breath for a few seconds, and then slowly exhale through your mouth. Feel your breath flow in and out, keeping your shoulders lowered, and repeat the process 10 times – or as long as you need to.
8. Practise meditation and mindfulness – Meditation has been scientifically-proven to treat and manage many areas of health and well-being. Guided meditations will help your body to relax and shift your focus to your breath. It can help you to take your mind away from any lingering worries that could be affecting your sleep.
Worrying about the number of hours or quality of your sleep is common, but I recommend trying some of the techniques outlined above and see how you go.
If you find you’re still struggling to manage your stressors and/or sleep issues, then you might find it beneficial to seek professional assistance with a Counsellor or a health professional.
Do you need Counselling Support?
If you need counselling support, contact Kylie Lepri for a FREE 15-minute phone call to discuss your situation and find out how she can help. Call us now on 0404 032636 or book your free phone call online.
Kylie Lepri is a registered Psychotherapist, Marriage & Relationship Counsellor, Clinical Supervisor, and Training Consultant. Since 2003 she has helped individuals and couples work through life stressors, develop new goals and create better relationships. Get Kylie’s FREE ebook: 5 Proven Strategies to help manage stress today, by joining her newsletter here.