There was a time when our bodies response to stress was a means of survival. If we were being hunted by a predator, being able to stay awake and remain vigilant meant you were less likely to become something’s dinner. Today, we face different stressors that rarely require the same physiological response that helped keep us alive when we were not at the top of the food chain. Unfortunately, our bodies haven’t kept up with the times and even though the stressors are different, our responses to them are virtually the same.
A recent Sleep in America study from the American Psychological Association indicated that almost half of us are struggling to get the sleep we need because of stress. To add insult to injury, lack of sleep also triggers our stress response, compounding the problem and leaving us more tired every morning. Keep stress from stealing your sleep by following these simple suggestions.
1. Create Space for Sleep
One reason our ancestors were able to get more sleep than we are is that they didn’t have video games, laptops, mobile phones, and iPads to keep them up. Declare that your bedroom is a technology-free zone and ban anything with a screen from entering. This will help you power down at night and ensure the ding, ding, ding, that signifies the constant arrival of new messages and information doesn’t keep you up.
2. Write Down Your Worries
One reason stress keeps many people up at night is that they can’t stop thinking and worrying. Put a notebook next to your bed so that you can write down the persistent thoughts and worries that keep your mind buzzing long after bedtime. Most of the time, acknowledging them in this way will allow you to let go of them and let you get to sleep.
3. Be Happy with Less
We, as a society, spend a lot of time working so that we can make enough money to buy all the things that will make us happy. What we don’t see, is that this creates a pattern where we never get to be happy because we are always compelled to work more, to make more, to have more. Let go of the idea that in order to be happy you have to work harder. Find ways to simplify and significantly decrease your stress level.
4. Work it Out
Many of us have forgotten just how effective exercise can be for burning off stress. If we aren’t spending time exercising every day, we aren’t getting the benefits of this natural stress release. As an added bonus, regular exercise helps promote healthy sleep habits.
5. Phone a Friend
Another crucial stress management strategy that we have lost sight of in modern times is social support. Spending time with others can help release stress the same way the valve on your teapot helps release steam. Whether you are sharing stories, helping with chores, laughing, or learning, contact with other people in a social setting can eliminate the stress that is keeping you from getting the sleep you need.
- Do I have a Sleep Disorder? (valleysleepcenter.com)
- Sleep and Your Immune System (valleysleepcenter.com)
- Let Go and Get a Good Night’s Sleep Tonight (valleysleepcenter.com)