Stress-related sleep problems are nothing new and can hit any of us at any time. The everyday worries regarding careers, families, friends and things we’ve said and done can keep our brains whirring and sleep at bay. This then leads to a further panic about the time and exactly how many hours slumber you’re going to be able to clock. It’s a vicious cycle.
The effects of lack of sleep are well documented and we all know first hand just how badly a couple of poor night’s rest can make us feel for the rest of the week. Sleep is imperative for our mental health, judgement, mood, concentration, happiness and general health and well-being. Worries are inevitable and will always be there but there are some simple changes you can make to help reduce those sleepless nights.
Create transition rituals
Switching our minds off and ready for sleep is much easier said than done. Simple transition tasks can take you from work to sleep mode the more your mind adjusts. These can range from taking a shower to listening to your favourite podcast.
Declutter your mind
If your mind is constantly racing with things you need to do, keep a notebook next to your bed. Try and write down your worries before you nod off and if anything comes to you during the night, note it down and deal with it in the morning.
Practice relaxation exercises
These are great for helping to reduce anxiety and calming your mind. These exercises can include muscle relaxation, deep breathing and listening to calming music and relaxing audio.
Focus your attention on your body
Run down your body starting from the top and truly assess how each part of you is feeling. If your mind wanders, bring it straight back to you and the now. This will take some practice and patience but really works when you master it. Apps like Headspace are a great place to start with this as you are guided through the process.
Try and do something after work
Whether that is heading to the gym, meeting a friend, phoning a loved one or hunkering down to your favourite film or tv show. Make sure you have done something for yourself between finishing work and going to sleep.
Focus on mental imagery
Try and imagine something that will require little focus or effort, will make you happy but not get you too excited! It’s a fine balance.
Keep your nightstand clear
In the style of Arianna Huffington, only keep items on your nightstand that will help you unwind. This might be a scented candle, some flowers, your favourite book or a photograph.
Get out of bed
If you are still wired after twenty minutes, get out of bed and do something else. This may be some relaxing yoga, reading a book in another room or doing a boring household chore you’ve been putting off. After about half an hour, assess how you’re feeling and try and head back to bed.
Unwinding after a stressful day is a very personal thing and what suits one person, may not suit you. Whatever you feel most comfortable with will work best so adjust your routine to fit your personality and lifestyle.