The greatest enemy of sleep is stress. Stress is a response to negative and challenging situations and also a response to daily activities. Stress can affect us physically, behaviorally, and of course, emotionally. Nonetheless, the right amount of stress can be the right force that triggers the best in us and keep us energetic. However, too much of it can cause tension and anxiety, which can affect your sleep.
What are the signs that you are stressed?
Some of the common signs of stress are anxiety, tension, work mistakes, depression, apathy, poor or lack of concentration, and lack of sleep. If stress is not adequately controlled, your health and sense of wellbeing will suffer such as:
- Memory issue
- Weakened immunity
- High blood pressure
- Mood changes
- The trouble with thinking and concentration
- Risk of diabetes
- Weight gain
- Risk of heart disease
So it is essential to learn to manage your stress.
How to manage your stress for better sleep
Below are proven tips that can help you stress less and improve your night’s sleep:
Identify what is giving you stress
The first thing you need to check is the source(s) of your stress; look at your physical condition and your daily routine. Are you suffering from pain, how’s your relationship, you fighting with your partner? Are you overloaded at work? If you can identify the source, you can do something about the stress.
Practice thought management
We cannot stop our minds from wandering and thinking about things, but we can control what we think about, what we expect, and what we tell ourselves often. These determine how we feel and how well we control rising stress levels.
Furthermore, you can learn to change your thought patterns that produce stress. Thoughts to watch out for are but not limited to those things concerning how things should be and those things that overgeneralize sets of circumstances. For instance, “my parenting skills suck because I said not to my daughter!” or “I will not do well after school, but I got C in a course.” There are several books on self-development and boosting your self-esteem that can help you work yourself and how to manage your thoughts.
Apart from weight loss, exercise can help you blow off steam, thereby reducing stress. Also, flexible, loose muscles are less likely to be tight and painful when you are stressed out. So, it is best to exercise at least two hours before bedtime so that your body temperature can return to normal.
Please, check with your doctor before starting an exercise regimen if you have a medical condition or you are above 50 years old.
The reason for your sleepless nights may not be the recent heartbreak; it could be your poor food choices. Junk food and refined sugars low in nutritional value and high in calories can leave you feeling out of energy and sluggish. A healthy diet, low in caffeine, sugar, and alcohol, can prevent stress and promote health.
Control your exposure to light
Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone controlled by light exposure, which helps to coordinate your sleep-wake circle. In addition, your brain produces more melatonin when it is dark and makes you sleepy, but when it is light (day), it makes you more alert and aware of your environment. However, many aspects of modern life can change your body’s secretion of melatonin and shift your circadian rhythm.
During the day, expose yourself to bright sunlight in the morning and spend more time in daylight. Allow more natural light into your home or workspace as much as you can. At night, avoid bright light within 1-2 hours of your bedtime. Avoid late-night television and don’t read with backlit devices.
Get enough sleep
A good night’s sleep can help you tackle the day’s stress easily. Besides, you are less patient and more agitated when you are tired; this can increase your stress levels. On average, adults need 7-9 hours of sleep every night. Practising good sleep hygiene with stress-lowering tactics can help you improve the quality of your sleep.
Another major factor that can increase your stress levels is doing everything by yourself. You don’t trust people to handle responsibilities because of fear they may not do it exactly the way you would.
Having too many responsibilities can lead to stress, learn to free up time, and decrease stress by delegating responsibilities. You’d be amazed at how fast and stress-free your job will be when you give people the opportunity to do things.
Move away from toxic people
Sometimes, the people we surround ourselves with can affect our sleep, whether negatively or positively. If you notice you are always unhappy after spending time with someone or a group of people, it is time to let reduce the time you spend with them or you completely avoid them if you can. Do not let anyone or anything rob you of your peace.
Improve your sleep environment
An uninterrupted bedtime routine energizes you and sends a powerful signal to your brain that it’s time to wind down and rest. Sometimes even the slightest changes in the environment can make a big difference to your sleep quality. To improve your sleep environment, keep the noise down and your room cool. Also, make sure your bed is comfortable.
These are the steps that can help you and the people around you to sleep soundly all through the night. Nonetheless, if everything listed here does not improve your sleep, contact your doctor; you may have a sleeping disorder, and he can recommend a safe and effective sleep medicine.