We all experience stress on a daily basis, for different reasons and at different levels of intensity. When it comes to your sleep, how much stress is too much?
How much stress?
Stress in the right amount can help you be more alert and perform at your best in day-to-day life, but too much stress can cause anxiety, make you tense and even be the cause of sleep problems. Stress needs to be managed so that it doesn’t affect your health and lead to major problems in the long run.
A survey by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America says that seven out of ten adults experience anxiety or stress on a daily basis and in turn have trouble sleeping. The same survey claims that the majority of adults with stress-related sleep problems experience difficulties sleeping at least once a week.
Less stress, more sleep
Here are some tips that you can use in your day-to-day life to deal with stress so that it doesn’t interfere with your sleep:
Identify the causes of your stress: Once you find out what is causing your stress, you can develop an action plan on how to reduce or eliminate it.
Ask your friends and family: Social support goes a long way in dealing with stress, and having a loved one there to listen to your problems can help soothe stress away.
Channel stress into exercise: Engaging in sports will help you to blow off steam and clear your mind, not to mention keep healthy and fit. Just make sure that you don’t start a workout too close to bedtime.
Stop stress eating: One common way to cope with stress is to find comfort in food. Comfort foods are notoriously unhealthy, so make an effort to avoid high-fat meals and larger portions. Also try cutting down on alcohol and caffeine, especially close to bedtime. The more you adopt a balanced diet, the more likely you’ll be to reduce stress.
Breathe deeply: Deep breathing reduces stress by slowing the heart rate and lowering blood pressure. Just sit up straight, comfortably, with your eyes closed and a hand on your belly. Slowly inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth while focusing on your breathing.
Meditate: Just fifteen minutes of meditation each day can help you to reduce stress and anxiety, feel more relaxed and improve your concentration. There are many kinds of meditation. One form that is rapidly growing in popularity in the West is Mindfulness.
Listen to music: Soothing music can lower your blood pressure and heart rate. Compile a playlist of your favourite songs and allow your mind to focus on the different singers, instruments and melodies. You can also blow off steam by rocking out to more upbeat tunes!
Laugh: The benefits of laughter on physical and psychological wellbeing are well known. A good belly laugh lowers the body’s stress hormone, cortisol, and boosts brain chemicals called endorphins, which help to improve your mood. One easy way to have a good laugh is to watch videos of your favourite standup comedians.
Be grateful: Keep a gratitude journal to help you remember all of the good things in your life. Being grateful for your blessings can reduce worrying, improve your mood and make you feel more content. Use the journal to savour positive experiences. Don’t forget to celebrate accomplishments, such as mastering a new skill.
Ask your doctor: Your doctor can give you advice on how to manage stress and may prescribe something to help.
Stress is a part of daily life. Managing stress is one way to enjoy a better night’s sleep.