How does stress affect your sleep?
Stress and worry can detrimentally effect our sleep. Stress can cause hyperarousal of the nervous system, making it more difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. It can also affect the quality of your sleep, causing you to have less deep sleeps and become more alert to environmental disturbances such as noise and light.
It’s important to remember that short-term sleep problems that only last a couple of days are extremely common and is not insomnia. However, there are many things we can do to reduce the likelihood of sleep issues caused by stress and restore better quality sleep.
Here are a few tips to help combat stress-related sleep disturbances using a natural approach.
Make your bedroom a sleep zone
Your bedroom needs to be a restful place that makes you feel relaxed and calm. Often, this can be quite the opposite for individuals experiencing sleep problems. This can be that the bedroom is associated with negative feelings. Ensure you do not use your bedroom for general daily activities such as working, talking on the phone or eating. These habits can associate your bedroom with unnecessary worry or stress related to those tasks. Make your bedroom as comfortable comfortable and tidy as you can to help you feel relaxed. Always ensure you have clean bedding, pillows and a good quality Mattress that fits your individual requirements. Allow your bedroom to become a place of rest, one where you can sleep peacefully away from all the stresses of the day.
Have a proper wind down routine in the evening
A wind down routine is necessary to allow arousal systems and activity in the brain to decrease their bustle and allow the sleep systems to commence. It is recommended to undergo a wind down routine one hour before going to bed. You can do this by stopping all work and household tasks, and by shutting down emails. It can also help to read a book or take a warm bath to relax before bed. Television before bed is not recommended as exciting, scary or worrying content can lead to negative emotions pondering in the brain.
Exercise is a great stress reliever. Being physically active counteracts hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol that are released into the body and increases the production of feel-good neurotransmitters (endorphins). Exercises increases your overall health and your sense of well-being, which in turn, creates a positive state of mind. It is good to exercise in natural daylight as this helps our body to synchronise with the day/night cycle. Try not to exercise late at night close to bed time as you need to allow your body temperature to reduce and return to normal in order to promote falling asleep.
Practise some relaxation techniques
Relaxation techniques are a great and effective way to relax your mind and body before sleep. Not only do these techniques work to distract your mind but they also aim to relax your body.
- Respiration: Try breathing deep, with one hand on your stomach and one on your chest. Breathe in through your nose, hold for a few seconds then breathe out through your mouth, exhaling as much air as possible. If you are breathing deeply, the hand on your abdomen should rise and fall as you breathe and the one on your chest should not move too much. To exhale as much carbon dioxide as possible, breathe out longer than you breathe in.
How we think about a stressful situation can influence how we feel about it and how we respond. If we can learn to adapt the way we interpret a difficult situation our stress levels can reduce. Unhelpful thinking can actually have a negative impact on sleep. If you fall into negative thoughts at night, you may benefit from evaluating your thoughts and then challenge and change the likelihood and accuracy of these thoughts. There are always alternative ways of looking at an issue and there are many different outcomes to a certain situation.