How to sleep when you’re stressed – 8 relaxation tips for better sleep
Are you not getting enough sleep due to stress? Our list of symptoms will give you an indicator as to whether your slumber needs a little TLC. We are also giving you 8 simple tips for relieving stress and getting the best night’s sleep possible.
You may feel a little tired as you drag your fatigued body to work on a Monday morning, but is that something to worry about?
Well, it could be, because, while a sleepless night may start as a one-off, it can soon lead to serious health issues, if not addressed.
Lack of sleep can lead to stress, and the problem with that is, increased stress can lead to lack of sleep. It’s a vicious circle, a never-ending cycle.
Or it can be if you let it, but you’re not going to, because these 8 ingenious tips are the key for reducing stress and getting a peaceful night’s sleep.
First, here are some symptoms to look out for…
Symptoms of lack of sleep and stress
Once you are familiar with the signs and symptoms, it becomes much easier to manage and work on your stress and improve your sleep quality. Take a look at these and see if any apply to you:
- You’re having issues with memory and becoming more forgetful than usual
- You have a short attention span and are unable to concentrate on everyday tasks
- You have a weakened immune system and are catching viruses more often than usual
- You have become clumsier than usual and have a lack of balance and coordination
- You are eating more and gaining weight
- Your emotions are all over the place, and you have unexplained mood swings
- You have low energy and constantly feel tired
There are other tell-tale signs that your sleep isn’t all it should be, but these are most common ones.
If you are suffering with anything listed above, then these 8 tips are what you need…
8 tips to get to sleep when stressed
I’m not saying you have to incorporate all 8 of these tips into your daily routine, but even trying 1 or 2 will make a difference to how well you sleep and for how long.
Start with the ones that are easiest to work into your everyday life and go from there…
1. Always leave a notepad by your bed
You’re tired and want nothing more than a restful night’s sleep, but the stresses and strains of a long, hard day have other ideas and keep nagging away at your thought process.
That inability to switch off and leave the day’s ups and downs behind is the biggest barrier to the blissful slumber you crave. We’ve all been there, lying awake for hours, staring at the ceiling, our anxious, over-active brains having a field day at 2 in the morning.
There needs to be an escape valve for all those doubts, questions, ideas or whatever it is that won’t leave you alone, and you will have one if you arm yourself with a pen and pad and keep it by your bed.
If something is racing through your mind, quickly jot it down, and you’ll feel a weight lift off your shoulders. Or if something suddenly springs to mind that needs doing the next day, commit it to paper and then relax in the reassuring knowledge it won’t be forgotten when you get up in the morning.
This is such a simple but effective way to clear your mind at night.
2. Keep caffeine for the morning
We all know caffeine is a stimulant, which is fine when you’ve got the whole day ahead of you but not when you want to wind down and drift off to sleep.
It can stay in your body for as long as 8 to 14 hours. If you are particularly sensitive, you may even feel the effects for up to 24 hours, so it goes without saying anything with caffeine in it does not figure on our list of recommended late night hot drinks.
If you’re feeling at all stressed or anxious, it is to be avoided all the more, as caffeine is absolutely the last thing you need as night falls and thoughts turn to sleep. Our advice would be to limit your caffeine intake for that early-morning boost and try to stick to decaf from noon onwards.
3. Brew a relaxing cup of chamomile
It really is the ideal bedtime drink, but, if you don’t like chamomile, any relaxing caffeine-free tea will do.
Specifically, chamomile tea has a long list of benefits, such as:
- Reduces inflammation
- Helps with sleep and relaxation
- Reduces menstrual pain
- Boosts immunity
- Reduces stress
- Soothes stomach ache
… just to name a few.
If chamomile isn’t to your taste, peppermint, green tea, rose tea and lemon balm tea are all soothing options which are caffeine-free.
4. Stick to a 10pm – 6am routine
You should be getting at least 7 – 8 hours of sleep each night, but the time you turn in could also influence how well you rest.
Our bodies have an internal clock which is mostly navigated by daylight. This is why our bodies get the deepest sleep between 10pm and 6am, as those are usually the darkest hours of the night.
This isn’t the case for everyone, and there are some who may benefit from a different schedule. But generally, most people feel better getting an early night and waking up earlier. This will make you feel refreshed and ready for the day, rather than exhausted and stressed.
5. Soak in a warm bath
Cold shower for the morning, warm bath for the evening. Cold water is exhilarating and the perfect way to wake you up in the morning. Read our 9 tips for waking up feeling refreshed for more advice on starting your day the right way.
A warm bath has been proven to promote relaxation and sleep. The science behind it is that an increase in body temperature helps us feel sleepier, which helps us drift off quicker and allows us to get deeper rest.
A word of warning, don’t have a hot bath right before bed. Our bodies prepare for sleep with a drop in body temperature. So, if you raise this too high, you may be creating too much work for your body to readjust to the right temperature.
A warm bath with perhaps a few drops of essential oils will put you in a dream-like state and melt all your worries away.
6. Make an investment into your sleeping set up
You’ve probably been told it a million times, but it’s worth saying again … invest in good quality bed sheets.
100% cotton bed sheets are soft, breathable and even transfer moisture away from your skin (perfect for the hot and sweaty summer months).
Your duvet is also a key part of your slumber set up. You don’t have to invest lots of money for a high-quality duvet, it just takes a little more research.
For guidance on choosing the perfect one for you, read our ultimate duvet guide. If you have a luxuriously comfortable bed with silky soft sheets, you are more likely to feel relaxed and stress-free when you tuck yourself in at night.
7. Fresh air is the key to a relaxing night’s sleep
First and foremost, a gust of fresh air into your bedroom creates the perfect cool environment for our bodies. 15.5 – 19.5°C is the ideal temperature, according to Dr. Christopher Winter, Neurologist and Sleep Specialist.
Not only will you benefit from a cool climate, but research shows that breathing in fresh air and the scent of plants will relieve stress.
So, don’t just leave opening your windows until you’re ready for bed. Open them as soon as you get home from work, and try keeping your door open as well, to keep a draught of sweet fresh air circulating round your room.
8. Trade your phone for a non-fiction book
You probably know you shouldn’t use your phone or watch TV before bed, but it’s so tempting to do it, anyway.
In fact, any electrical device that emits a blue light (laptop, tablet, iPod) is seriously detrimental to sleep. This is because the light prevents our brains from releasing the hormone melatonin, which prepares our bodies for sleep.
Even if you’re aware of that, the chances are you will still settle into your bed and spend a few minutes browsing Facebook before switching the light off, not least because all those who have told you not to have failed to come up with an alternative.
Well, here’s one… try picking up a book. Reading for just 15 – 20 minutes before bed has been proven to induce drowsiness and help you sleep better. It is a peaceful way to unwind, de-stress and forget your worries.