- Mental Health»
- Stress Management
How to Get Quality Sleep and Stress Relief
Daily stressors like the workplace, personal relationships, family troubles, financial hardships, and physical pain can cause you to become irritable and short-tempered. But don’t let them get the better of you. Reduce stress with and get better sleep in the bargain with the following tips.
What causes you the most stress?
Why is Quality Sleep Important?
When we don't get enough sleep our body goes into a sleep "debt" mode that is almost impossible to "pay back". We become more susceptible to colds and viruses as our immune system is compromised by the decrease of cytokines (proteins that help promote sleep). We are more likely to become drowsy during the day or at the wheel of our cars.
All of these reasons (and there are many more) make it clear that humans need enough high-quality sleep to function well.
Get Enough Daylight
Expose yourself to plenty of light during the day. If you are stuck inside most of the time like many office workers, think about getting a light therapy box (I use the Lightphoria Sphere). Getting that light into my eyes indirectly in the morning has not only regulated my waking hours and alleviated my Seasonal Affect Disorder, it is much easier for me to fall asleep at a reasonable time.
I have even used this unit at my workplace, and except for a couple of coworkers cracking jokes about me being "ready for my closeup", it's very convenient to use and lightweight as well.
Pipe Down, You
Keep household sounds low. Personally, the sound of the highway lulls me to sleep (good thing I live with a view of a secondary highway right outside my bedroom!)
If you live in an apartment building or next to noisy neighbors, consider using white noise (like a fan or humidifier) to block out the sounds of other people.
Keep Your Bedroom Dark and Cool
When getting to bed, block out as much light as possible and do not overheat your room or body. Wear lightweight pajamas and a blanket you can easily kick off if you feel yourself getting too warm. The ideal temperature range for sleeping is between 54 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
At night, determine what helps you to chill out, and engage in those relaxing activities before bed. This can be easier said than done. So outside of standard meditation, here are some ideas:
- Grab a coloring book and crayons. Focusing on small areas is considered meditative.
- A quick shower with your favorite soap
- Giving yourself a hand or foot massage
Be wary of too much computer, tablet, or smartphone time before bed as backlit devices or those that emit light signal the brain to stay alert. Also, forgo candles as they are a fire hazard.
You could always try aromatherapy (what do you have to lose?), but if you do so, choose a scent that you like. Lavender has been a major sleep aid for many years of herbal and folk medicine, but if you don’t like it, try chamomile, jasmine, bergamot, or rose.
Buy a sleep mist or make your own with distilled water, witch hazel, alcohol, and a few drops of essential oils (there are many recipes online). Shpritz your sheets or pillow, and even the bathroom if you choose to take a short, relaxing shower pre-bedtime. The steam will help the smell surround you and signal your brain to prepare you for sleep.
Take a Cue From Babies
Sometimes I use baby powder scented with actual babies in my quest for a good night’s sleep. Ha! Don't worry, I’m just kidding. I use a bit of Johnson’s baby powder in the “Calming Lavender & Chamomile” scent. It assists babies with getting enough rest, and it assists adults to do the same.
Make it a Habit
- Once you do find the activity that best reduces your stress, make sure you give yourself up each moment completely. Really immerse yourself.
- Remove distractions so you can truly focus. Remember, this is your health we're talking about!
- Engage in deep breathing exercises while you are preparing yourself for bed.
- You will have to start making these nightly activities a little ritual until it becomes second nature to you.
Dealing with Nightmares
How about those times when you finally get to sleep, only to be plagued by nightmares. (I have been there, and it's awful!) Your heart will race, you may sweat, and they may even cause you to be too frightened to fall asleep again, resulting in a vicious cycle of lost sleep and stressing you even further.
Endeavor to become conscious that you are in a dream state. This will help you to remain calm within the dream. You can even try to influence your dreams pre-sleep to sweeten them.