If you’ve ever lied awake at night to stare at your ceiling while thinking about the mountain of stressful things in your life, then congratulations, you’re officially adulting.
Stress and sleep are strongly correlated; working in synchronous they create a cycle which can pose serious health risks in addition to making your daily activities unbearable. According to the American Psychological Association, during sleep, our muscles are repaired, and our memory is consolidated. Without proper slumber, our memory, judgment, and mood are diminished. And sleeplessness won’t only affect your mental and emotional fitness; hunger-regulating hormones, workout performance, and recovery can all be negatively impacted by a lack of proper rest cycles.
Research has shown that most Americans suffer from stress and lack of sleep, almost to the point where these characteristics have become the norm in our country. As a society of go-getters, we can no longer keep pushing ourselves to the limits and responding to sleepless nights with the phrase “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” because the reality is that sleep can and will affect your lifespan.
Whether you’re struggling to fall asleep or deal with the stressors from your day, we’ve compiled a list of tips which are backed by science, that will assist you in getting those necessary hours of shut-eye.
- Make a list: write down everything you need to get done, so you don’t lie awake thinking you’ve missed a deadline
- Do yoga regularly: those who do 20 minutes of yoga each day report being less stressed and sleeping better
- Practice mindful breathing & meditation: take five minutes to focus on your breath. Applications such as Insight Timer and Headspace are free to use and help guide your meditation
- Walk away from your computer: Uninterrupted computer use is associated with depression, loss of sleep and anxiety
- Cuddle something: Oxytocin is released when you cuddle something, which has been shown to lower your heart rate and reduce cortisol levels
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation: lie on the ground and from your head to your toes tighten and relax your muscles, this will help your mind slip into a relaxed state
- Go for a walk: walking releases endorphins which can help lower your stress response (walking through nature yields the best results)
- Keep a Gratitude Journal: writing 3 things you’re thankful for every day can reduce stress
- Utilize aromatherapy: Essential Oils like Lavender and Mint can reduce stress
- Avoid Falling Asleep with Screens: Don’t watch Television or use your phone one hour before bed, the blue light transmitted from these devices can mess with your body’s internal clock
- Take a hot bath or shower before bed: going from warm water to a cooler room causes your bodies temperature to drop, naturally making you feel sleepy
- Don’t eat large meals right before bed: your body digests best upright, and stomach upset can trigger sleep disruption
- Drink Chamomile tea: this herb is shown to reduce anxiety
- Give Yourself plenty of Cool Down Time: All intense workouts should be engaged in at least 3 hours ahead of bedtime
- Take vitamin C, in addition to supporting your immune system it reduces cortisol (high cortisol levels in the evening can lead to difficulty falling asleep)
Sleepless nights are often the direct result of stressful days. To overcome one, you must overcome both. These tips can be the first steps you take toward caring for yourself both mentally and physically.