How to quiet your mind to find that elusive good night’s sleep
Stress is a fixture of our lives – some of it good, some of it strong enough to hurt us. You know the kind we’re talking about. That tightness that begins in your gut and travels to your fingernails and earlobes like an electric snake. It makes us snap at our loved ones and in some cases, leaves us sobbing and unable to make a rational decision.
No surprise stress can impact your health but did you know it can also affect your sleep health? If you’re stressed, your sleep suffers and suffering from sleep deprivation can lead to increased stress. If stress is a constant companion in your life, its side effects can be insidious, robbing joy from every corner of your life.
According to WebMD, “For most people, getting less than 6 hours sleep translates into a bigger sleep debt than they may realize. Over a two-week period, missing out on the recommended eight hours of nightly sleep adds up to two full nights’ sleep debt, one study found. If you’re averaging only four hours a night, your brain reacts as though you haven’t slept at all for three consecutive nights.”
“The best ways to reduce your overall stress is to get enough sleep (7-9 hours a night for most people), eat healthful food, exercise, reach out to supportive pals, and focus on things within your control,” says Women’s Health Magazine.
Ummm, sure. If the answer was that easy, we’d all be stress-free and well-rested…
How to reduce stress and sleep better
Chronic stress can make you feel like you’re in the middle of a never-ending marathon, causing adrenaline and cortisol rushes and a constant racing heart. If you rush through your days overloaded, overwhelmed and overstimulated, chasing a good night’s sleep is futile.
Sleep requires a slowing down, a quieting of the mind and body. So how do you slow down, de-stress and sleep better? There’s no one answer that will work for everyone but a few tweaks to your sleep schedule may help you slow your pace and catch a better night’s sleep.
- Put stress to bed first. Journaling and meditating can help put stress in a corner so you can focus on more positive thoughts. After journaling, give yourself permission to the let the journal be the keeper of your stress for the night. The physical act of shutting your journal is often enough to allow you to finally loosen your shoulders for the night.
- Slow your evenings. Slowing your evening helps prepare your body for sleep says Dr. Breus. He advises people to set an electronic curfew, “try limiting your use before bedtime and put the computer and phone to bed in another room and see if that helps. If you have a teenager in the house, try to limit their use of their cell phones as much as possible before bedtime.”
- Create ambiance. When the lights dim at the theater, the audience quiets. To prepare your body for sleep, dim the lights, sit in a comfortable chair and read or talk quietly. Repeat this process nightly and your body will begin to learn and appreciate the cues. Just make sure you don’t fall asleep in the chair – that’s a recipe for a sore back in the morning.
- Exercise. A number of recent studies have shown that moderate-intensity aerobic exercise (like brisk walking) helped participants fall asleep more quickly and increased their time spent sleeping. The moderate descriptor is important. Studies also found that vigorous aerobic activity, like jogging or lifting weights, did NOT have a positive effect on sleep.
- Make mindful food and drink choices. We love our morning coffee, but too much of it later in the day can interfere with sleep. Same is true for alcohol – it might help you fall asleep but it will also wake you up more often during the night. Junk food and refined sugars can trigger the same sleep issues as well.
- See a sleep doctor. We’ve been making mattresses for more than 75 years and know a thing or two about getting a good night’s sleep. But we’re the first to admit not all sleep issues can be solved with a new mattress. If sleeplessness is frequent and impairs your ability to enjoy your life, it’s time to get medical help for diagnosis.
Rest well & wake up ready to go!
Better sleep gives rise to better mornings, bringing your goals into focus and dreams within reach. Hungry for more sleep info? Dig into these posts:
- Learn how to sleep like an athlete
- Habits of highly effective nappers
- Essential life hacks to battle stress and sleep better