How To Get A Good Night Sleep When Stressed
Another sleepless night spent worrying as you stare at the ceiling? Stress and anxiety can often keep you from getting the sleep you need.
Many people with anxiety disorders have trouble sleeping and at some point its hard to tell whether youre having trouble sleeping because youre anxious, or youre anxious because you cant sleep. The answer may be both. The fact is that stress and anxiety can cause sleeping problems, or worsen existing ones. Too little sleep affects your mood and can contribute to irritability and sometimes depression. Vital brain functions occur during different stages of sleep that leave you feeling rested and energized and that help you learn and build memories.
Here are a few tips to help you practice good sleep hygiene so you can wind down both your body and mind:
Use A Weighted Blanket
Weighted blankets are a type of heavy blanket that typically weighs between 5 and 30 pounds. Theyre known for producing calming effects by mimicking the feeling of a hug using deep pressure stimulation. Because weighted blankets can help increase serotonin and melatonin while decreasing cortisol, they have been shown to promote feelings of calmness and peacefulness.
How To Fall Asleep Faster When You’re Stressed
Learning new ways to manage your stress at night may improve your sleep. In turn, you’ll be better-equipped to handle whatever life throws at you.
Use Relaxation Techniques
Relaxation techniques can help lower your blood pressure, slow your breathing, and make you feel calmer. To help prepare for sleep, you can choose from a variety of coping methods that aim to elicit a relaxation response. Useful techniques include mindfulness meditation, guided imagery, hypnosis, progressive muscle relaxation, and deep breathing, as well as techniques that incorporate a physical component such as yoga, tai chi, and qi gong .
Manage Screen Time Wisely
Smartphones, tablets, televisions, and computer screens emit blue light that can keep you awake at night by lowering levels of melatonin, the hormone that makes you sleepy. As part of your wind-down routine, sleep experts recommend avoiding electronic devices in the lead-up to bedtime. Wearing special glasses that block blue light may reduce the impact of screen time on your sleep-wake cycle, but if you can, go one step further and make your bedroom a screen-free zone.
Drink a Warm Glass of Milk
Avoid Heavy Meals Before Bed
Take a Hot Shower
Incorporating a hot shower or a warm bath into your bedtime routine triggers a natural cooldown process afterwards. This drop in temperature mimics the natural fluctuations of the sleep-wake cycle and may decrease the time it takes you to fall asleep.
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Too Stressed To Sleep These Strategies Can Help
Stress and sleep can form a pretty vicious cycle. No matter how physically exhausted we feel when our heads hit the pillow, we just cant seem to quiet our racing minds. Then, after tossing and turning our way through the night, were way too fatigued to function at our best. This leads to more anxiety…and on and on and on.
Stressors like anxiety and worry send our bodies into fight or flight mode. Normally, this state of hyperarousal fades away once the threat is gone. But chronic stress causes our nervous system to continually work on overdrive, pumping out hormones that keep us revved up and alert even when its time to sleep.
If youve been stuck in a cycle of wired nights and exhausted days, your body and mind need help remembering how to relax. These strategies can help you break free from unhealthy sleep patterns and finally get some solid shut-eye.
Understand where your stress resides
In the world of mindfulness, we hear a lot about present moment awareness. Thats because its the one place your stress doesnt live. If youre anxious about something, youre either fixating on a past scenario or worrying about a future event. Youre so stuck looking forward or backward that you can barely focus on the task at hand. The practice of mindfulness is meant to break these toxic thought patterns by helping you become aware of when youve drifted from the present moment. In this way, it can actually stop stress in its tracks.
Unburden your mind
Dont Lie In Bed Awake
Lying awake will only give your brain time to start another firestorm of worries and anxieties.
If you cant fall asleep after 20 minutes or so, try restarting that bedtime routine.
Dont turn on bright lights, of course, but go do a low-stress activity like pet your cat or drink a cup of tea for a few minutes to help give your body another chance at winding down for the night.
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What Does It Do To The Body
Youve probably heard the term fight or flight reaction before, typically in reference to a caveman being chased by a lion or a wooly mammoth. While we dont typically find ourselves literally running for our lives in the present day and age, we often feel like were fighting for our lives when were faced with stressful situations. A scary medical diagnosis, an overdrafted bank account, or a devastating breakup can all elicit the same classic fight or flight reaction in the body that our Paleolithic ancestors experienced when faced with danger.
The fight or flight response causes chemical changes in the body to prepare you to take action. It starts when the emotional processing center of your brain, the amygdala, sends a signal to the main command center in your brain, the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is interconnected with your entire body through the autonomic nervous system, which controls all of the automatic functions in your body breathing, heart rate, etc.
All of these functions are regulated through two different systems: the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system. When the hypothalamus detects a stressor from the amygdala, it sends a message to the adrenal glands and activates the sympathetic nervous system with a fight or flight response. The parasympathetic nervous system has the opposite effect, calming things down and moving you into rest and digest mode.
Put Your Phone To Bed
Just say no to doomscrolling before bed the practice of taking in a barrage of bad news online. Give your phone a bedtime before your own, Dr. Albers advises.
And if anxiety keeps you awake or wakes you up, resist the temptation to break this rule and start using your phone. Your phones blue light signals your brain to turn back on, ultimately making it even harder to get to sleep.
This is a No. 1 no-no for helping you fall back to sleep, Dr. Albers warns.
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Sleepless Nights Try Stress Relief Techniques
In a recent national survey, 44 percent of adults said stress had causedsleepless nights at least once in the previous month. All that tossing,turning and staring at the ceiling can leave you feeling tired andmore stressed the next day. If youre caught in this vicious cycle ofanxiety and insomnia, theres good news: Simple stress relief techniquescan help you sleep better and feel calmer.
Increase Your Exposure To Daylight
If you work inside a dark office during the day or live in the northern hemisphere, you might not be getting enough daylight and your sleep might be affected.
Studies have shown that exposure to sunlight or bright indoor lights during the morning hours helps people sleep better at night.Adequate daylight is also shown to decrease depression and stress.
Help calibrate your circadian rhythm by making sure you get lots of daylight and if you cant, consider investing in a light therapy device to keep near you, during the day.
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Quit Caffeine By Noon
Caffeine’s effects vary from person to person, but in general, if you are having trouble sleeping, caffeine could be the culprit. If youre caffeine-sensitive, try completely eliminating it for a month and see if that improves your sleep. Also consider sneaky sources of caffeine such as chocolate, tea, and soda, and instead opt for water, herbal tea, and herbal coffee substitutes.
Avoid Screen Time Before You Go To Bed
Your mobile phone and its screen are the enemy of a good nights sleep.
We are all guilty of using our phones when we go to bed to browse social media, catch up on emails, read the news, or even play distracting games.
In particular apps with bright lights, loud noises and the potential to raise your heart rate are to be avoided for example, video slots like these are especially bad news for insomniacs.
So, whilst all these activities are fine during the day they dont promote sleep.
Its scientifically proven that the light from a phone or tablet interferes with the production of melatonin in your brain which is important for regulating sleep, helping you to doze off and then to wake up the next day.
And of course, through the night your buzzing phone alerting you of emails, texts or other messages can interrupt sleep too.
So the general rule is, phones off 30 minutes before you sleep, and keep them on silent and away from your bed to avoid unwanted nudges in the night.
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Manage The Room Temperature
Believe it or not, keeping your bedroom cool helps you fall asleep quicker and improve sleep quality. Our body temperature naturally drops as we get ready to fall asleep, so a cold room supports your bodys sleep instinct. A cold room also increases your melatonin levels, melatonin being a hormone that regulates sleep.
So What Can You Do To Calm Down So You Can Actually Sleep
Well, first off, theres no substitute for seeking help from a mental health professional.
An anxiety or trauma therapist, in particular, can help work with you to reduce your anxiety and panic symptoms.
According to Hahn, there are specific treatments, like EMDR or sensorimotor psychotherapy, which can be helpful in resetting your nervous system and settling your overactive amygdala thats causing your anxiety disorder.
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If You Wake Up In The Night Dont Stay In Bed Too Long
Its possible that stress may cause you to fire awake in the middle of the night, too, and not just block your ability to fall asleep. Dr. Foldvary says you should never lay in bed for more than 20 minutes trying to drift off this may cause you to ruminate on your worries, or simply stress over your sleep issues. Get up, and do something relaxing or boring, she says. Dont turn on the TV, which can be stimulating. Dont read a book that will be a page-turner. Maybe read a slow section of the newspaper, or iron some clothes. When you start to feel sleepy again, go back to bed. Whatever you do, just do not watch the clock. This is what you learn in cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia, Dr. Foldvary explains. Create productive habits, set the right expectations, clear your mind and relax.
Stop Reading The News So Much
Racing thoughts can severely ruin someones nightly wind-down. Media burnout is real. We have 50,000 to 80,000 thoughts a day swirling around in our heads. If the majority of them are dedicated to political calamity? The result is not good for anyone especially busy parents who already need to juggle an extreme amount of thoughts. Dont read the news first thing, , silence push notifications, and take other measures. The key is to not ignore it, but to find the right balance that works for you.
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Sleep Is An Antidote For Stress
Sadly, stress is part of life. At some point, everyone experiences stress. Physical, emotional and other types of stress take their toll on our minds and bodies. Thats why sleep is so important. Sleep is an antidote for stress.
Our bodies use sleep to restore and recover. While we sleep our bodies carry out important restorative functions. Our brains rid themselves of toxins and sort out the events that happened throughout the day.
Our bodies repair and restore themselves as well. Its pretty amazing how much our minds and bodies remain active even when we are sleeping.
Sleep Boosts Mental Wellbeing
Given that a single sleepless night can make you irritable and moody the following day, it’s not surprising that chronic sleep debt may lead to long-term mood disorders like clinical depression and generalised anxiety disorder in adults.
When people with anxiety or depression were surveyed to calculate their sleeping habits, it turned out that most of them slept for less than 6 hours a night.
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What Is Anticipatory Stress And What Does It Have To Do With Our Sleep
Anticipatory stress is triggered by the presumption that one situation or action will negatively impact another.
In this instance, when we fear were going to have a bad nights sleep and were convinced were going to wake up still feeling tired, stressed or unrested, the thought of falling asleep feels even further out of reach.
Take Time To Handle Your Stress
Stress is a sleep killer. And only those who take measures throughout the day to stay in control of their levels can stop it from interfering with their rest. We have a list of 22 stress-relief activities that take 5-minutes or less to get you started. Find what works best for you. Maybe its breathing exercises, banging out a few quick rounds of pushups, doing some body-scan meditation, listening to some soothing music, or catching up with friends and family. Anything that helps lower cortisol levels is good for sleep.
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Is Stress Making It Difficult To Fall Back Asleep
Stress often kicks in due to a situation we can see and comprehend we tend to know what we are dealing with and what is stressing us out. While itâs not always possible to control everything that is happening to us or around us, it is possible to change the way we relate to those things that are happening. Softening the way we perceive stress and relating to it in a more accepting way is the first trick for how to deal with stressful feelings â like the ones that might be keeping you up at night.
One scientifically proven way to relieve stress is meditation. In one study, Headspace was found to reduce stress by 11% in just 10 days, while 30 days of Headspace reduced stress in participants by a third.
Rather than being caught up in our thoughts, practicing meditation for stress teaches us to become the observers of certain mental patterns and, therefore, become less physically affected by them. In training the mind to be more open and less reactive, we are better able to cope when lifeâs stressors, day or night.
Try A Change Of Scenery
If you just dont feel tired, many sleep experts such as researchers at the University of Michigan Depression Center recommend getting out of bed and going to a different room with dim lighting. Try engaging in a quiet activity for ten to twenty minutes, such as reading a book or sitting quietly until you start to feel sleepy. This should make it easier for you to go back to bed and fall asleep more quickly.
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Stress Affects The Mind And Body
Stress takes its toll on our minds and bodies. Stress causes the release of cortisol, a powerful hormone that triggers the fight or flight response in our bodies.
This hormone can cause overwhelming sensations in the body, raise blood pressure, and cause anxious feelings.
Sound sleep helps reduce the levels of cortisol and balance the chemistry in the brain and body.
Chronic stress without adequate sleep can raise your risk for heart disease and stroke.
Try Some Natural Relaxation And Wellness Techniques
Meditation, yoga and other relaxation techniques have all proved effective for stress and sleep disorders. There are plenty of guided meditations and yoga routines geared specifically to those with problems sleeping.
Take some time out of your busy day to wind down at the end of it.Even if you have only 10 minutes for a short meditation before you go to bed, you may see a positive result.
You dont need any special skills or to follow any religious dogma, so give it a try. No time? Fall asleep to music or nature sounds geared especially for deep sleep. Here are a few of our favourites:
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Start Small And Be Patient
You can have anything you want in life, but you cant have everything. Ray Dalio
It took me several days to start following 50% of the above and then another month or two to start following 100%.
Start small. My suggestion is a consistent bed time. That has been the single biggest factor in my development.
Flux. The bright white light that you refer to as your computer might be disrupting your internal rhythm. Download the free Flux application to have your screens lighting automatically switch to a sunset hue in the evening.
Philips Wake-up Light. If you despise alarms as much as I do, then check out the Wake-up Light. It makes waking up gradual and pleasant.