Stay Active And Eat Healthy
As the song says, Get on your feet! Dr. Gay says that exercise is among the most effective ways to manage and reduce your stress. She also says a healthy diet is essential, as it promotes your overall well-being.
Studies confirm that keeping physically active during times of high stress can help prevent negative effects on sleep. This can be hard to do, since stress can lead to poor health decisions, impeding our efforts to exercise.
Swimming in particular can be a great stress relieving tool. When we swim we practice paced breathing. If you have spoken with anyone about stress you have probably heard, take a deep breath, and that is exactly what you are doing when you swim, says licensed social worker, Vicky Woodruff.
Research shows that dancing can also be an effective stress coping mechanism. Create a playlist ahead of time with some of your favorite songs and take a dance break when you are feeling very stressed.
How To Sleep Better
1. Eat a healthy diet. You should avoid caffeinated drinks and alcohol if you want to get quality sleep. Dont eat much prior to bedtime and avoid sugar.
2. Clear your thoughts. Before going to sleep, you need to relax and let go. Stop worrying and take deep breaths. I usually meditate or use visualization. But some years ago before sleeping, I thought about my day, about my experiences and I concentrated on the great ones. I fulfilled myself with gratitude and calmed down.
3. Take a warm shower or a bath
4. Exercise is a great way to burn energy and you can get better sleep. Dont exercise just before sleep.
5. Read before sleeping. Remember that reading alone can relieve stress and make your life more enjoyable.
Sometimes you just need to find a comfortable place to sleep.
Can Moving More During The Day Improve Sleep At Night
Two of the solutions we know work are vexingly simple: get enough rest and get enough exercise.
Theres a three-way quarrel between stress, exercise, and sleep, says Niket Sonpal, MD, adjunct assistant professor of clinical medicine at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine in New York City. While stress keeps you feeling anxious and awake, exercise reduces stress and in turn, helps you sleep, and when you sleep better, you can handle stress better.
You likely already know all about those relationships from experience that sleep and exercise can make you feel less stressed and even help you cope with your stressors better. But what research is just starting to unravel is the physiological explanation for why those relationships exist between stress, sleep, and exercise, which in turn could help us be smarter about how we do all three.
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Why Does Stress Affect Sleep
People tend to have a harder time sleeping when theyre stressed. Stress negatively affects the brain and nervous system. It keeps you in fight-or-flight mode definitely not conducive to sleep. And once stress starts affecting your sleep, its a self-perpetuating cycle of more stress and more sleeplessness.
Stress impacts your entire body thanks to elevated levels of cortisol, your bodys main stress hormone. Cortisol is a good thing in moderation. It helps your body prepare for action and wake up in the morning. But when this hormone is constantly present, it can cause communication problems between your bodys systems. This impacts everything from your muscles to your immune system:
- Muscle tension: Stress can make you tense. This constant state of muscle tension is a source of stress-induced headaches and lower back pain.
- Inflammation and heart health: Long-term stress can trigger inflammation and cause difficulty breathing. People with chronic stress also live with a constantly elevated heart rate and constricted blood circulation.
- Nervous system: The constant presence of stress can cause a breakdown in communication between the hypothalamic, pituitary and adrenal axis. The breakdown of this system, result in your body being less resilient to stress due to a general weakening of your immune system.
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Practice Good Sleep Hygiene
Proper sleep hygiene can be incredibly helpful for relaxation and managing stress at night. A few things you can do to help induce restful sleep are:
- Reserve the bedroom for sleep and sex only
- Keep a cool temperature in the bedroom
- Pick a bedtime ritual to help you relax before bed
- Avoid naps in the day after 3pm
- Avoid difficult conversations before bedtime
- Avoid stimulants like nicotine and caffeine three hours before bedtime
- Avoid screen time at least one hour before going to bed
- Avoid large meals several hours before bedtime
Dr. Gay says its best to limit your social media use and your time spent consuming stressful media . She suggests having an electronics-free nighttime routine. Similarly, Dr. Prianca Naik, MD, suggests, First thing in the morning for 10-15 minutes, dont get on your phone. Set an intention for the day and practice gratitude. This places our mind in a positive frame. This might be difficult at first, but you can do it!
Dr. Gay also says that the right sleep environment will help you catch some Zzzs. One way to create this is by choosing the right mattress for you. This will depend on a variety of factors such as your size, weight, and preferred sleep position, as theres no one-size-fits-all when picking a mattress. Just make sure that your mattress provides comfort and proper spinal alignment.
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Tips For Managing Stress For Better Sleep
These tips can help you ease stress and hopefully get a better night’s sleep:
These steps can help many people sleep soundly through the night. However, if you have frequent sleep problems, talk to your doctor. They can check you for possible medical problems like an overactive thyroid or sleep disorders, or a psychiatric condition like an anxiety disorder, and recommend treatment.
Suggestions To Help You De
What keeps you up at night? More often than not, itâs an active mind caught up in worry and anxiety, agitation, or even sadness. Here are a few ways to de-stress so you can drift off to sleep more easily.
1. Try some gentle yoga poses before bedtime. According to a survey by The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, more than 85% of those who practiced yoga reported reduced stress and 55% reported better sleep. These 7 restorative yoga poses before bed have been shown to increase relaxation and relieve tension.
2. Start a gratitude list each day. Many studies suggest a connection between gratitude and feelings of wellbeing. Practicing gratitude can have many positive effects on our lives including lowering blood pressure, reducing risks of depression and anxiety, and setting the right conditions for better sleep, according to Robert A. Emmons, professor of psychology at UC Davis and a leading scientific expert on the science of gratitude. Consider keeping a gratitude journal, writing down a few things youâre thankful for a few times per week. Thereâs no right or wrong way to do this, but here are a few tips to get you started.
3. Bathe before bedtime. Taking a warm bath or shower an hour or two before bed has been shown to relax both the body and mind, in one study lowering both heart rate and blood pressure. Heat relaxes tense, tired muscles, and helps you de-stress.
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Master Stress And Sleep Better
Life and work will always make you feel stressed, pushing you to keep up with the ever-changing world. It is important to live a balanced life in face of pressure from modern times. Try taking it slow and relax, spend more time with your beloved ones. These small changes are bound to help you reduce stress and sleep better, and most importantly, recharge your body and make yourself perform better in work and life.
StephanieCo-founder of Hush Home
As a certified health and wellness consultant, Stephanie is on a mission to inspire everyone to live a fuller life by sleeping better.
Stephanie designs and leads Hush Home’s sleep workshops for Fortune Global 500 Companies such as Citibank, Manulife, and Standard Chartered to boost their employee performance and productivity with sleep science.
When Stephanie is not getting her 8 hours of snooze in, or reading and writing about sleep & wellness, shes probably somewhere hiking with her little pomeranian, Dookie!
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Best Tips For Relieving Nighttime Stress
There are numerous strategies for relieving nighttime stress and anxiety before bedtime. If youre feeling too stressed to sleep, these approaches can help you relax. Some sleepers use only one or two of these relaxation strategies while others practice a combination of them. If stress and sleep are a chronic concern, your physician can help you determine what the best approach is for you.
Stress And Sleep Quality
Its no surprise stress and sleep quality are inversely related. The more stress you feel, the less quality sleep you obtain. Unfortunately, stress relief can be a complicated topic. First, we need to understand how stress affects our daily life. Our sleep-wake cycle is a daily pattern guided by the hormones cortisol and melatonin. Cortisol keeps us awake and is essential for our daily productivity. However, it is also known as a stress hormone because higher levels of cortisol will be triggered in stressful situations where our body needs to be prepared to take immediate action, also known as the fight or flight response. Conversely, melatonin makes our body feel less alert and our mind more fatigued, helping us fall into deep sleep. In normal and ideal circumstances, these two hormones work perfectly opposite of each other to regulate a healthy sleep-wake cycle.
Stress can cause the autonomic nervous system to release more cortisol which was vital for survival during the earlier stages of human evolution. It is normal and helpful to feel stressed occasionally because it improves our focus and keeps us more awake during the day time. However, chronic feelings of stress can cause the level of cortisol to be too high, making it harder for your body to regulate and thereby throwing the cortisol-melatonin relationship off balance. This imbalance can delay the onset of fatigue and cause a decrease in sleep quality.
The Link Between Stress And Sleep
Stress has many negative connotations, but it is a response that has evolved in humans and animals to allow them to deal with important or dangerous situations.
In humans, stress can cause the autonomic nervous system to release hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones raise the heart rate to circulate blood to vital organs and muscles more efficiently, preparing the body to take immediate action if necessary.
This reaction is known as the fight-or-flight response, and it was vital for human survival during the earlier stages of evolution.
Nowadays, issues that are not a threat to survival can trigger the fight-or-flight response. For example, problems at work or relationship difficulties.
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Try Gentle Yoga Stretches Before Bed
Talk to your doctor about which poses are safe for you to practice and which ones wonât make your pain worse. It might be helpful to start off using yoga props like blocks and bolsters for added support so that you can hold poses comfortably. And taking a few yoga classes with an instructor to be sure youâre doing the poses and breathing correctly — which is key to relaxation — isnât a bad idea either.
How Can We Handle Stress In Healthy Ways
Stress serves an important purpose it enables us to respond quickly to threats and avoid danger. But lengthy exposure to stress may lead to mental health difficulties like anxiety and depression, or increased physical health problems.
A large body of research suggests that increased stress levels interfere with your ability to deal with physical illness, says Dr. Borland. While no one can avoid all stress, you can work to handle it in healthy ways that increase your potential to recover.
1. Eat and drink to optimize your health
Some people try to reduce stress by drinking alcohol or eating too much. These actions may seem to help in the moment, but actually may add to stress in the long run. Caffeine also can compound the effects of stress. While consuming a healthy, balanced diet can help combat stress.
2. Exercise regularly
In addition to having physical health benefits, exercise has been shown to be a powerful stress reliever. Consider noncompetitive aerobic exercise, strengthening with weights or movement activities like yoga or Tai Chi, and set reasonable goals for yourself. Aerobic exercise has been shown to release endorphins natural substances that help you feel better and maintain a positive attitude.
3. Stop using tobacco and nicotine products
4. Study and practice relaxation techniques
5. Reduce triggers of stress
6. Examine your values and live by them
7. Assert yourself
8. Set realistic goals and expectations
9. Sell yourself to yourself
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How Blue Light Affects Your Hair And Skin
Chances are, if you are reading this right now, youre being exposed to blue light from your computer screen or digital device. Per Nielsen data from July 2018, Americans spend more than 11 hours a day interacting with media, which includes using devices that emit blue light.
While there is already much research to suggest that staring at a digital screen can harm the eyes, newer research is showing how blue light exposure affects your skin. Read on to find out about the impact blue light exposure has on skin and hair health and how to combat it, including what products you can use to help you achieve optimal hair wellness.
Try Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Tension in your body can make it difficult to sleep. You may not even realize when you’re stressed about something, but your body can still feel the physical effects of stress, leaving muscles tensed up as a result.
Progressive muscle relaxation has been an accepted evidence-based treatment for insomnia for years. It is also a great tool for de-stressing your body.
To practice progressive muscle relaxation for stress-related insomnia:
- Find a quiet place to sit or lie down.
- Tense the muscles in your face, hold for a count of eight, then let them go.
- Keep tensing and releasing your face muscles until you feel relaxed.
- Next, move on to the muscles in your neck, holding them tight for a count of eight, then letting them go.
- Keep tensing and releasing your neck muscles until you feel relaxed.
- Continue this tense-relax pattern, working your way down all the muscles in your body.
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Enjoy A Nice Bath Or A Hot Shower
A bath or warm shower before bedtime is a great way to relax. It relieves tension in your muscles and it can help you sleep. A hot bath or shower will also warm you up and when you get out your temperature will drop.
Scientists have found that a drop in body temperature actually helps us drift off so if your bedroomâs cooler than your hot bath, itâll make getting to sleep easier.1
Try Acupressure Or Another Relaxation Technique
Theres no denying that sometimes breathing or telling ourselves to sleep just doesnt work. Insomnia can be brutal. Acupressure has been shown to have pain relieving and relaxing effects, so if restless muscles seems to be your issue, you could try lying on an acupressure mat before dozing off. That said, these mats can be pretty intense, so youll want to do some thorough research before you purchase one, and consider consulting with a physical therapist first. Alternatively, you could try a guided progressive muscle relaxation meditation or yoga nidra video, in which you relax each part of your body using your mind.
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How To Reduce Stress And Sleep Better: My Complete Selfcare Routine
If you have a demanding job, dealing with the stress of COVID, and social media pressures, sleep doesnt come easily to you since youre too stressed out. Looking for ways reduct stress and ways to get a better night of sleep naturally? You will love my complete selfcare routine on How to Reduce Stress and Sleep Better.
Selfcare vs Self Love
Did you know selfcare and self-love arent the same? It wasnt until I listen to a podcast about self-love that I start distinguishing the difference between self-care and self-love. I think most of us confuse the two. That podcast episode made me realize why I always experience guilt around self-care and thats why Im still stressed after practicing self-care. This complete selfcare routine will not work until you learn self-love.
Vicious Cycle Of Stress And Sleeplessness
Being chronically stressed can lead to sleeplessness, but lack of sleep can also make you more susceptible to stress. Its like a chicken and egg scenario, and figuring out which came first can be complex.
When certain hormones like adrenaline and cortisol are elevated in the body, your brain has a difficult time shutting down. It thinks that youre in danger, and the last thing your body wants to do when a threat is imminent is sleep. Chronic physical symptoms like muscle aches, headaches, and acid reflux can also cause pain and discomfort and make it challenging to fall asleep.
For many people, sleeplessness itself can be stressful. Staring at the clock as it counts down the remaining precious hours until you have to get up and repeat your rat race can feel like torture. The longer you lay there tossing and turning, the more anxious you become and the more difficult it is to fall asleep.
Maybe you do finally fall asleep for a couple of hours, but youre still chronically sleep-deprived when your alarm goes off the next morning. You compensate for low energy and brain fog with sugar and caffeine, sending your blood sugar and insulin levels on a roller coaster ride that leaves you feeling nauseous, dizzy, and forgetful. The increased blood sugar and caffeine in your system makes it impossible to fall or stay asleep that night, and the whole cycle of sleeplessness repeats.
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