What do you do when you just can’t get a good night’s sleep?
Losing sleep due to stress and being stressed due to lack of sleep both go hand in hand like a vicious cycle, feeding on each other which only ensures that both get worse. Think about it, when you’re stressed, you can’t sleep and if you can’t sleep, it’s stressful.
A lack of sleep makes you feel more stressed, whether you’re in the bed wondering when you’re going to be able to sleep, or the next day when you can’t function properly due to the lack of sleep. All of this sleep related stress makes it even less likely that you’ll sleep well the next night. On and on it goes indefinitely unless you do something about it.
Luckily, unless you’ve been having sleep disturbances for years, there are things you can do about it. Dreaming up some good sleep tonight? It doesn’t have to be a dream! Just follow the tips below to start improving your sleep tonight. Because after all, being able to have a good night’s sleep is an important part of managing your stress before your stress manages you.
One of the simplest techniques that you can use that will greatly reward you in the relaxation department, is breathing. If done correctly, it will help you get to sleep.
Deliberately fill your lungs with as much air as possible in one smooth deep breath. Then gently exhale. As you inhale, your stomach should expand outwards. As you exhale, your stomach should contract all the way inwards towards your belly button. Keep repeating, trying to focus on the actual flow of the air and how it feels in your body. Close your eyes to help you visualize the air as it goes in and out.
You may find your heartbeat synchronizing and slowing down, which can reduce anxiety and tension in the process helping you relax as you drift off to sleep. There’s a reason many people advocate deep breathing during meditation because it works! Deep breathing is an effective technique for removing distractions and letting go of your thoughts.
Dark Chocolate Before Bedtime You Say?
Of all the chocolate varieties available, dark chocolate is the only one that is actually good for you. Yes, it’s an acquired taste as it’s more bitter than the other types, but it’s worth the trouble.
Dark chocolate is actually a stress buster; according to studies, it helps reduce the impact that cortisol has on the body. Eating a little piece of dark chocolate before bed is not bad, you could eat it instead of drinking warm milk.
Use White Noise
When you’re stressed and sleep deprived, noises can be particularly irritating, even if that’s not normally the case. For example, if you live near a busy road, the sound of traffic at night can become very frustrating when you’re trying to sleep. And of course, your loud neighbors will have the tv turned up when you desperately want to sleep.
That’s where having a white noise machine comes in handy. It provides an effective way to help you sleep. White noise includes sounds like a fan, rain drizzling, or waves gently crashing against the beach. These sounds induce relaxation and reduce stress naturally helping you fall asleep. I can personally attest to the power of a white noise machine. I use one which has an actual fan inside and it’s helpful in giving you a sound to focus on other than everything else that’s going on inside and outside of your home. So you can actually sleep.
While exercise late at night can inhibit sleep, exercising in the afternoon is a solid recipe for beating back stress and helping you sleep at night. But it’s important to make sure that your exercise is not too late because your endorphins can pump you up and reduce the desire to sleep.
Make Sure Your Mattress is Comfy
Your bed and mattress can make or break your ability to get a good night’s sleep. A comfortable mattress is the number one piece of sleep hardware. Most mattresses have a life of approximately 10 years, after which you’ll usually notice a difference in the quality of your sleep. If you wake up with aches and pains (especially in your back) or you toss and turn every night before falling asleep, more than likely your mattress isn’t supporting you as it did in the past and it’s time to get a new one.
Sleep In The Dark
Artificial light (particularly blue light) impairs the release of melatonin, a hormone that helps us get the restorative sleep we need. Which is why individuals such as myself recommend powering down your devices a few hours before you go to bed (easier said than done, I know).
When you’re stressed, your body may find it harder to produce and release sufficient melatonin, which makes it important to keep your bedroom as dark as possible. A combination of white noise and a cool, dark, comfortable room will help you finally get some restful sleep.
Cultivating and participating in an evening routine is another way of helping yourself to get a good night’s sleep. Once you develop your routine, it begins to signal to your body (and mind) that it’s time to wind down in preparation for sleep. It doesn’t matter what your evening routine consists of; what matters is that your routine in consistent. Some evening routine ideas are:
Caffeine free tea
Whatever activity you pick, make sure that it’s something that you enjoy and that it relaxes you.
There you have it! Several ways that you can use to increase your ability to get a good night’s sleep. It’s all about making time.
Let’s talk. What do you do to help yourself go to sleep at night? Let me know in the comments section.
Cassandra Martin-Himmons is a trainer, wellness coach and consultant who believes in empowering her clients and providing the tools that they need to make positive changes in their lives to manage their stress and increase their self-care. In her spare time, she enjoys papercrafting, volunteering and travel. Connect with her on Instagram or Linked/In