De-stress for Better Sleep
It is time to say farewell to March – your QOL health gurus would like to wrap up Sleep Awareness Month with some final sleep tips. You may not realize how the quality of your sleep is controlled by your stress level. If you eliminate excess stress in your life – you will have an easier time falling asleep and staying asleep!
First we would like to explain to you how your stress response affects your sleep. When you experience a perceived threat, either physical or psychological, your body’s stress response is triggered. This trigger will cause changes in your body such as quickened, shallow breathing, and a burst of energy due to the release of adrenalin, cortisol, and other chemicals. The purpose of these changes within your body is to allow you to fight or run from danger. Even though fighting and running are both inappropriate ways to handle our modern life stressors, they still become triggered in our bodies. When the stress response is constantly being triggered, you could end up with chronic stress that will affect your ability to sleep. Luckily there are ways to counteract this stress through relaxation.
Here are some ways to relax and eliminate stress before bed:
- Write in a journal – the benefits of keeping a dairy are extensive, from sparking creativity to promoting self-knowledge. It also forces you to unplug and recharge. The practice of gratitude journaling is also a good way to de-stress. This is where you create a journal focused on what you have and being thankful for it – rather than focusing on what you don’t have.
- Do a guided meditation – meditation can wipe away the day’s stress and restore your calm inner peace. Meditation is something that has been practiced for thousands of years – originally meant to help deepen understanding of mystical forces of life, but these days meditation is used for relaxation and stress reduction. Some other emotional benefits of meditation include: gaining a new perspective on stressful situations, focusing on the present, increasing patience and tolerance, and increasing imagination and creativity.
- Take a bath – when you are feeling extra stressed, you may want to take a bath. The warm water will help to relax your muscles and release tension from your body.
- Create a To-Do list – if you are kept up at night thinking about all the things you have to do the next day, creating a To-Do list might help! Worrying about forgetting about a task can be stressful. If you write down a list of things that you have to do for the following day before bed you will be able to relax knowing you won’t forget to do something.
- Do a quick clean up – make sure your worn clothes are in your hamper and there are no dirty dishes left in your sink! This can do a world of wonder towards helping you relax. These chores seem small, but they can pile on to your stress.
- Brew some tea – some teas are specifically designed to help you relax. Peppermint tea is a natural muscle relaxer. Just like peppermint tea – chamomile tea also has great benefits in relaxing the muscles and reducing irritability. Lemon balm tea reduces the stress hormone called cortisol and relaxes the body. Passion flower tea is also a great natural remedy for stress and anxiety. Finally – rose tea has a calming effect that will help you fall asleep. Make sure when you are choosing a bedtime tea that it is decaffeinated – caffeine will keep you up and for some people, it can add to anxiety.
It is important to remember that everyone is unique - what works for some people to reduce stress will not work for others – so we advise you to give these techniques a try and see what works best for you.