Avoid Stress With Healthy Sleeping Habits
The way you sleep, the hours you sleep per night, and the quality of your sleep all affect your health and your ability to ward off stress. Even our SMaRT techniques work better if you are able to concentrate, fight off fatigue, and feel self-confident. The good news is, the small changes recommended here will keep you sleeping better and less stressed.
Too Stressed to Sleep
Even if you aren’t stressed to begin with, sleeplessness, interrupted sleep, or sleep of fewer than 7 hours is inherently stressful. Sleep deprivation interferes with the release of certain hormones into the bloodstream that assists in fighting stress and makes it harder to deal with other stressors in your life. Even one night of recovery sleep can reverse the effects. However, chronic sleep issues cause changes in the brain.
If you are feeling stressed, your body’s first reaction will be wakeful alertness, keeping you from healthy sleep. Then, once exhaustion sets in, you may sleep too much. Here are a few physical signs you’ll notice if you’re too stressed to sleep:
- Overthinking/your brain won’t “shut off.”
- Your muscles are tensed, or your jaw is clenched. This might cause you to wake up with soreness or headaches.
- You wake up feeling lethargic even if you got several hours of sleep.
- Your heart is racing, or you feel anxious trying to sleep. This is caused by an increase in cortisol and tension in your body.
- You may suffer from an undiagnosed sleep disorder such as hypersomnia, insomnia, or restless leg syndrome.
Sleep and Restore
Regularly sleeping more than 8 to 9 hours a day might be a sign of depression; a physical problem like chronic pain, diabetes, or heart disease; a bad reaction to medication; or a disorder in your biological clock—any one of which should be addressed by speaking to your doctor.
If you want to improve your healthy sleep:
- Sleep in a totally dark room. Wearing an eye mask also helps.
- Go to sleep at the same time each night.
- Avoid eating a heavy meal or many snacks, and avoid drinking alcohol or caffeine just before bedtime.
- Increase your exposure to bright light, particularly sunlight, during the day—you need at least 2 hours of light during the day to increase sleep time by 2 hours and fall more quickly into healthy sleep.
- Reduce your exposure to blue light—there’s an app for that—and shut off electronics at least 2 hours before going to bed.
- Take a melatonin or magnesium supplement. Speak to your doctor first to eliminate any chances of drug interaction or other side effects. Start with a low dose (no more than 1 mg of melatonin) and increase gradually.
- Keep your bedroom on the cool side, as low as 65 degrees but not higher than 70 degrees.
- Replace or upgrade your bedding. Mattresses should be changed every 5-8 years. But pillows also make a difference in encouraging healthy sleep.
TIP: If you lay awake for 20 minutes, get up and do something relaxing like reading, meditation, or watering your plants. Do not start up electronic equipment or engage in strenuous exercise.
You no longer have to suffer from lack of sleep or unhealthy sleeping habits. Learn more about creating healthy habits and eliminating your stress by subscribing to our SMaRT Club.
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Note: If you have thoughts of hurting yourself and/or others, please call the national suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255 immediately.
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