How to Sleep Better When You’re Stressed to the Max: 5 Helpful Tips
There’s no way around it — “adulting” is stressful. That’s especially true if you have young children to raise or elderly parents to take care of on top of a full-time job or college schedule. Of course, you also want to make time for your significant other, friends, and self-care.
After all, it is essential that you take care of your own needs, both physical and emotional, even when you are busy. And although you might be tempted to burn the candle at both ends, one key factor in staying healthy is getting a good night’s sleep. That’s why we’ve compiled this list of helpful hacks to help you get enough ZZZs!
Stick to Your Normal Sleep Schedule
Whether it’s crunch time at your job or exam time at school, when your responsibilities pile up, it can wreak havoc on your ordinary schedule. You might feel that there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done but try to avoid stealing time from your quota of shut-eye.
It won’t do too much harm if you have a few especially late nights when necessary or rise earlier than usual to fit in a few more hours of studying or paperwork. However, try to keep these instances to a minimum. If possible, stick to your regular sleep schedule – give or take an hour. This will ensure you’ll stay bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and at peak performance.
Get Plenty of Fresh Air and Exercise
Do you know that invigorating feeling after an afternoon spent hiking in the woods, hitting the ski slopes, or taking a bike ride with the family? You might be tired, but it’s the healthy fatigue that will ensure you sleep well. A couple of factors contribute to this pleasant state of exhaustion: the health benefits of exercise, exposure to the sun’s natural source of Vitamin D, and the regulating effects of light exposure that keep your circadian rhythm running like clockwork.
Spend a few minutes outdoors each day, preferably while moving your body. Help the kids make a snowman, take a brisk walk to clear your head after work, or go Zen out while tending to your landscaping. Not only will you increase the odds of sleeping well that night, but this exercise can help offset those drive-thru fast food meals you invariably turn to when your schedule is crazy.
Give Your Body Good Fuel
While we’re on the topic, be careful not to overdo it with high-calorie, sugary, and processed foods. When stress rears its ugly head, it’s tempting to choose convenience over home cooking and comfort foods over their nutritious counterparts. However, heavy dishes and refined carbs can lead to heartburn or acid reflux — which in turn make it more difficult to get a good night’s rest.
Sugar and caffeine can keep your brain alert, preventing you from drifting off. And indulging in a midday pasta feast might taste delicious, but it will result in a sluggish, sleepy afternoon that could throw your whole sleep schedule out of whack.
Tempted to blow off steam with a glass of wine at the end of every stressful day? That’s understandable. But it won’t help you sleep any better, and in fact, alcohol can also worsen existing sleep disorders and interfere with REM sleep. Even if you still get your standard seven or eight hours, a tipsy evening can make you feel more tired the next day. So, enjoy your appletinis and merlot in moderation, and cut yourself off at least two hours before bedtime.
Set Yourself Up for Good Sleep
Another activity to limit during chaotic times is use of electronic devices. Scrolling through your Facebook or Instagram feed to catch up with friends or binging a Netflix show can be entertaining.
However, the blue light that your laptop, tablet, and cell phone emit can do a number on your sleep. Just as with alcohol, give yourself a window of screen-free time before you hit the hay. An hour or more is ideal, but even a half-hour will help. Can’t avoid checking your work email or doing some late-night online shopping? Turn the brightness down or use a blue-light filter.
If your old mattress or lumpy pillows are making you toss and turn, why not treat yourself and invest in a new mattress? A high quality mattress will promote restful sleep and help cradle your joints and muscles in comfort. It’s important to purchase a mattress that uniquely designed for your sleep specifications.
Turn to Natural Remedies for Insomnia
It can be tempting to use over-the-counter or prescription sleeping pills, especially if your mind is racing as you review your to-do list for the next day. But they can come with nasty side effects, not to mention the risk of dependence. Before going the prescription or OTC route, try some natural remedies to ease into relaxation and restful sleep.
Chamomile tea and warm milk are ways to tell your body and brain it’s time to relax. Valerian root, kava, passion flower, and California poppy all offer mild sedative effects.
You could also consider doing some gentle yoga, meditation, or breathing exercises shortly before you turn in. Lavender essential oil in a diffuser can be calming as well. Or try white noise, which can take the form of rainfall, crashing ocean waves, or even the rhythmic sound of a train.
Don’t Stress, Try These Tips To Sleep Your Best
It’s all too easy to get caught up in the hustle and rush of adult life – and to neglect your own self-care as a result. Stick to your normal routines as much as possible, treat yourself to a new mattress, get regular exercise, and remember that the work will still be there tomorrow, so try to get some ZZZs tonight!