Sleepless from Stress? 10 Tips for a Good Night’s Sleep
Let’s say you’re about to leave for vacation tomorrow, run your first marathon, or take an important exam. Of all times, you could really use some hours of deep, regenerative sleep. But, of course, you can’t get a wink of it. The fact that you just can’t fall asleep is stressing you out even more, and there goes a good night’s sleep – a common scenario of how stress affects sleep. Then, the next morning, you crawl out of bed, exhausted and with dark circles under your eyes. Sounds familiar?
Today, we have 10 tips for you to avoid this scenario in the future and sleep peacefully despite everyday stress.
During the day
1. Take mini breaks
It’s vital to take some me-time to relax, a few minutes here and a few minutes there, throughout the day. If you have a desk job relax tense muscles and allow your thoughts to wander to a distant place (e.g. your next holiday destination) for a moment. Do that regularly and you’ll feel less stressed at the end of the day.
2. Stop brooding, do something!
If there’s something that’s been bothering you for days, you should really address the problem – no matter how unpleasant it might be. Instead of carrying your problems around, tackle them step by step. Don’t overthink it, just do it (at your pace)!
3. Get moving!
Exercising is a so-called active stress coping strategy and makes us pleasantly tired in the evening. Take a short walk before or after dinner. Physical activity is a great way to reduce stress; plus, it helps us unwind.
4. Sleep hygiene
We’re not talking about vacuum cleaners and dusters (even though a clean bedroom does contribute to an increased sleep quality), but about the fact that problems don’t belong in our bedrooms. Keep a little notebook on your nightstand and scribble down all thoughts that keep you from falling asleep. This will help you relax and let go.
5. Wide awake and can’t sleep
If you can’t seem to let go of something you could actually resolve right now, just get up and do it instead of tossing and turning in bed for hours. If you simply feel wide awake, get up and do something until you feel tired. Forcing yourself to sleep is pointless. It just doesn’t work. Actually, not only is sleep duration important, but also your deep sleep phases. Therefore, longer doesn’t necessarily mean better.
6. Come up with rituals
Rituals help us prepare for bedtime both mentally and physically. Create a daily routine you follow before going to bed. Here are a few ideas: have a cup of herbal tea, light a scented candle and read a few pages (of a book or magazine), do a 10-minute yoga routine or try some relaxation techniques.
7. Goodbye, electronics!
Make an effort to keep your bedroom as electronics-free as possible. Use alarm clocks without digital displays and do without your phone, tablet, etc (this is actually possible!) the last 30 to 60 minutes before you go to bed. Our constant companions, their illuminated, blinking displays, and the never-ending information flood deprive us of our much-needed sleep.
8. Ban all clocks from your nightstand
If you wake up at night, avoid peeking at the (alarm) clock. Watching the minutes pass, when you know you should actually be sleeping, will just stress you out. Position your alarm clock out of sight and reach.
9. Grab a pen
Is it impossible to go back to sleep? Write down your thoughts. Even if it’s 4:00 a.m. For all those who share a bed with their partner: get one of those tiny, clip-on reading lamps so you don’t wake your significant other.
Turn off your phone at night or activate airplane mode. Try this also in the evening or on weekends every now and then. You don’t have to be available 24/7. Actually, you shouldn’t be, because that puts a lot of extra pressure on us, even if it’s only unconscious.
…and for those nights when nothing seems to help, try to save the next day with a power nap!