In our fast-paced, workaholic society, many of us are increasingly subject to stress. Whether it’s a demanding job, overextended family life, or a hectic social calendar, stress can affect your health, mood, and even your sex life. That’s why it’s important to understand how to reduce stress in your life.
There’s a strong connection between how much sleep you get and how stressed you are. It’s a vicious cycle that can cause you mental distress and even wreak havoc on your physical well-being.
People who don’t get enough sleep are generally lethargic and constantly experiencing energy slumps. This causes irritability, which also makes it harder to fall asleep.
The reverse is also true. When you experience too much stress during the day, it causes you to lie awake at night, and that piles on more stress for the next day.
A poll by The Huffington Post revealed that for many people, their main stressor was lack of sleep. Stress and sleep deprivation can cause you to lose mental clarity and put more pressure on your body to perform at less than optimal standards.
So it’s important that you learn how to reduce stress by applying stress relief measures that also help you to sleep better at night. When you wake up fully refreshed, you’ll be able to tackle the world and anything it throws at you!
1. Don’t Use Electronic Devices at Bedtime
Keeping your phone by your bed might prevent you from falling asleep early. It’s not a problem for some people – but for many others, it’s become an addiction that disrupts their sleep routine and keeps them tossing and turning through the night.
Some people keep their computer right beside the bed and the glow of the screen lights up the room at night. Your mobile phone can also interrupt your rest with the lights and sounds that it causes.
Asides from being a physical factor, it causes a certain amount of mental unrest when you’re constantly checking emails or looking to see who posted what on Facebook or Twitter.
The physical distraction of the computer glow tricks your body into thinking it’s time for you to be awake. Your body won’t produce the melatonin it needs and help you get (and stay) asleep, so you toss and turn all night.
Technology doesn’t just have to be left out of the bedroom – it needs to be shut down for sometime before you go to bed. Your mind needs time to disconnect and wind down itself, and it can’t do that if you’re constantly feeding it information.
If you go to bed at 10 PM, try disconnecting around 8:30 PMM. Let your stress melt away and your mind relax. This isn’t an easy habit to break. Still, you’ll be able to implement it – even if you start with baby steps, such as not taking it in the room with you, but using it right up until bedtime.
2. Use aromatherapy to soothe yourself before you sleep
Aromatherapy soothes your mind and body for both sleep and destressing. Scents are a powerful element of our lives, and you can use their power to help you feel more rested.
Start off by choosing the right scents for you to unwind, let go of the anxiety the day brought, and get a good night’s sleep. You don’t want anything invigorating for bedtime – like peppermint.
That’s a scent that’s perfect for helping you start your day – not end it. You want to look for scents that soothe and relax. Some relaxing scents are lavender, chamomile, rose, bergamot, jasmine, or vanilla.
You can use these scents in the form of scented bath products, candles, diffusers, wall plugins, and more. Some people like to create or buy a special mist that they can spray on their pillows at night (or put on their wrists) before bed.
3. Wind down your day with an exercise routine
You might be wondering how to reduce stress with exercise – exerting yourself more when you really need to be relaxing and calming down. But that’s just what exercise does for you! Exercise is a great stress reliever because it helps you release endorphins.
That’s why you sometimes hear of athlete’s bragging about their “runner’s high” – because although they may start out fatigued, they hit a point in their regimen where the endorphins are released and they feel good.
Feeling good is one sure way to get quality sleep. Your body has probably been tensed and knotted up all day while you were at work. Allowing it to exercise gives you some relief – somewhere to pour all of that tension into.
Exercise also helps you sleep better at night. We joke as parents about letting our kids wear themselves out so they’re ready for a good, long nap – but the same goes for us as adults!
A Huffington post poll revealed that people that exercise sleep bettter and longer. As you might suspect, the harder you work out, the harder you sleep each night! If you’re not used to exercising, start with low impact exerccises and work your way up. You can start off with a simple 10-minute-a-day plan and increase it a bit each week.
The side effect of exercising to get better sleep and stress less is that you might shed pounds if you’re overweight! Poor sleep makes people gain weight according to recent studies – and stress is a definite factor in consuming too many calories.
Try to exercise after work – hours before bed, but in the evening. If you exercising too close to bedtime may leave you feeling restless.
4. Use bath meditation to reduce stress and improve sleep
For some people, bath time is the only time of the day when they can unwind and kick stress to the curb. There are no interruptions, no clocks ticking, no technology pulling your attention, and nobody talking to you.
It’s just you, your warm, soothing water, and your relaxed environment. The environment for your bath meditation is just as important as the sleeping environment you create.
A cold, sterile bathroom won’t lend itself to a calming environment. You can use bath meditation whether you have a 10-minute bath or an hour-long bath.
Some people like to incorporate aromatherapy during their bath meditation. Go for soothing candles or bubble baths such as lavender or chamomile.
Music is something else for you to consider. You can listen to soft, relaxing music – or even use a guided imagery CD that will walk you through a visualization process that helps you meditate while in the bath.
Just as you’ve made the decision to turn off technology at bedtime, do the same for your bath time, too. You can’t properly relax and meditate if your smart phone is ringing consistently.
Make sure that when you ease yourself into your bath, you start to get familiar with how you’re breathing. Most people go through each day using shallow breathing, and it’s deep breathing that cleanses the stress from your body and helps you sleep better.
Let your mind wash away all of troubles and irritation of the day – picture it washing out to sea – and replace it with whatever the senses are experiencing at that very moment – the warmth of the water, the tranquil sounds, and the feeling of being unrestricted by ties or hosiery.
Everyone meditates differently. Some like the guided imagery, while others want to relax without thinking about anything. Some like to use a mantra they can repeat throughout the meditation process. Find out what works best for you and then use that as your staple for better sleep and less stress.
5. Reduce stress and sleep better with efficient time management
Many people sleep poorly because they feel that they don’t have enough time.
Time is one thing we need more of and have less of in this day and age.
We have no time to relax. We push ourselves from the time our feet hit the floor in the morning right up until we go to bed – and we never get to bed on time. Instead, we give ourselves a minimal amount of sleep hours – and spend most of that time tossing and turning.
If you get firm with yourself and look at how much time you waste during the day, or how much time you while away without being productive, then you’ll free up more time for sleep.
Notice that didn’t say, “free up more time to get tasks done.” Many of you will learn new time management skills and forget to learn your lesson about sleep. Instead, you’ll pack in more on your to-do list.
Keep a diary or journal of your daily routine. Notice all the times when you’re browsing the web or just chatting with co-workers. You could be spending that time accomplishing things so that once your day is done, you are rewarded with free time to pamper and nurture your body and mind.
You might also find that when you implement the other rules here, along with proper sleep hygiene, you’ll be able to get more done throughout the day. That’s because your mental clarity improves and you tend to have more energy to tackle whatever the day may bring.
6. Practice deep breathing in place of naps
Some people take daily naps, primarily because they’ve heard that power napping can help them achieve their goals for the day.
This might be true for many people. But if you’re having trouble sleeping, then naps could be causing the problem. A 10-minute power nap where you’re basically just shutting your eyes and deep breathing is beneficial.
Going to bed for 2-4 hours in the middle of the day is a recipe for disaster. You won’t be able to go to bed at a regular bedtime and you’ll lie there frustrated and annoyed that you can’t go to sleep. It’s a hard habit to break.
Try using deep breathing to energize yourself whenever you’re in an afternoon slump. Breathe from your diaphragm and try to watch how often you’re using shallow breaths throughout the day.
7. Adopt good nutrition to reduce stress and sleep better
What you eat can benefit or damage both your sleep and stress levels. If you want to reduce stress and get better sleep, you have to limit or avoid alcohol and caffeine and eat foods that will help you be calm and healthy!
This includes good protein like turkey or lean chicken, salmon or other kinds of fish, avocadoes, nuts likewalnuts or almonds, and apricots (which soothe your muscles). It’s important to take your meals regularly. This helps to stabilize your blood sugar levels so that you don’t have to deal with mood swings and energy highs and lows.
When it comes to stress, it’s easy to get caught up thinking that it only happens when we’re going about our normal day-to-day activities. The truth is that stress can sneak up on us in ways we don’t expect, like when we’re stuck in traffic or waiting in line at the supermarket.
Ironically, it’s these kinds of small frustrations that tend to lower our threshold for feeling stress. The same goes for sleep. When we’re sleep deficient, even the smallest of annoyances can feel like a major stressor. That’s why it’s so important to tackle stress head on, and to make sleep a priority