It’s something we feel more of, hear more of and experience more of. In fact, so many of us are living with some form of chronic low grade stress, if only from the constant need to juggle many different hats as possible at one time.
There are so many health problems associated with stress and the lack of sleep or inability to fall asleep is one of them.
Sleep is imperative in living our most vibrant and fulfilled lives. It’s our time to rest & rejuvenate, it allows our brains to re-set, our muscles & tissues to repair, it gives our hormones the chance to balance and it allows our digestive system to rest.
When we lose sleep, we feel more agitated, our energy levels deplete, we experience brain fog, elevated cortisol levels and our digestive system and hormones are in a constant state of fight or flight. So, if you’re already stressed then you can see how lack of sleep ISN’T helping you at all!
I’ve put together 5 tips that will help you fall asleep when you’re stressed so that you can wake up to your most rested and energised self in the morning.
I know I do. My sisters and I had our shower at 6pm, followed by dinner, a few stories from our mum and then being tucked in listening to the Harry Potter audio book.
Just like we train our bodies and our muscles in the gym, we can also train our bodies to know when it’s time to fall asleep.
Create a bedtime routine that is achievable to you and something that you can stick to on a daily basis no matter where you are in the world. It should be something realistic that you can stick to no matter what so that your brain and body know when it’s time to wind down and prepare for sleep. Make sure that it’s at the same time of night – so stick to a time that works for you and make the commitment to be in bed at that time (even if you’ve not fallen asleep).
I always love a shower before bed, I take my time and almost use it as a little meditative practise where I allow myself to feel grounded, cantered and present in my body. Then I spend half an hour or so reading or doing some sort of number or word puzzle (I love Kakuro at the moment). I lie on Ben’s lap for a little while and then when I feel sleepy enough I’ll take myself off to bed.
Create a routine to train your mind and body that it’s time for bed just like when you were a child. Even when you’re stressed, this routine will help to relax you and your body will know it’s time to hit the sheets even if your mind is still anxious and worked up.
I know how difficult it can be to go to sleep when you’re stressed. In fact, I start stressing about the fact that I am stressed and that gets me even more stressed out! It becomes this never ending cycle of being wound up.
Or, have you ever been lying in bed, thinking about how you can’t sleep and then you start getting angry at yourself for being so tried but not able to fall asleep?
There are so many scenarios where our minds have the ability to stop us from actually sleeping – the irony is that we’re worrying about SLEEPING!
Sleep shouldn’t be something to worry or fret about.
It’s a natural part of life and something that should be looked forward to!
All you have to do is change your mind-set. Stop worrying about your sleep (or the lack of!) and start feeling more positive about it. Enjoy the process of going to sleep. When you create a bedtime routine, put things into it that you enjoy – that way you’ll look forward to your bedtime rather than resent it or put it off. After all, we’re more likely to do something if we enjoy it and look forward to it. So start to inject some positivity into your bedtime.
Start changing your mind-set once your head has hit the pillow. If you’re stressing that you’re not falling asleep then take yourself out of that situation and get rid of that stress. If you’re stressed or worried then more likely than not, cortisol (a stress hormone) will be racing through your body and unfortunately it stops you from resting or sleeping. So take yourself out that situation, get out of bed, read a book, go for a walk round the house, cuddle your dog – do whatever you need to do to take a brief pause and allow your body to re-set before going back to bed.
I LOVE breath work and meditation.
Just monitoring your breath can be a great way to relax both your mind and body and allow that tension and anxiety to float away.
When we are stressed or anxious, our bodies enter that fight or flight mode and because of that, our breathing becomes very short and shallow. By changing the way you breath, you can allow your body to switch back into ‘rest’ mode which is what’s needed to fall asleep.
There are two breathing exercises that I love to do for this.
Blue light stimulates our brains and our bodies and indicates that it’s not time for bed yet. Our phones, computers, TV screens and almost any electronic device emits blue light. Have you ever walked past someone’s living room window and night and only seen blue light shining? That’s what I’m talking about. When we watch TV at night or scroll through social media, the cells in our bodies wake up and become alert which means that it’s a lot harder for us to fall asleep – especially if our cortisol levels are already elevated from stress.
Blue light is naturally emitted from the sun and the sky in the morning which stimulates our bodies to wake up and act as a natural alarm clock for our internal systems. So, if you’re wanting to fall asleep easier then remember to switch off all your technological devices and put them to one side.
The light from our lamps and bulbs are great for obvious reasons, but combined with this blue light, keep our bodies stimulated for a lot longer without giving them the chance to relax before falling asleep.
I LOVE journaling! It’s something I’ve done my entire life and there are so many different ways I like to journal.
When we’re stressed, our anxieties, worries and to-do lists can keep us awake and stop us from relaxing into a deep, peaceful and rejuvenating sleep.
Write down whatever you’re worrying about and then once it’s down on paper, allow yourself to relax and fall asleep. The worry journal will still be there tomorrow when you wake up.