Do you ever feel like stress is your constant companion? With you at work, home, social gatherings, even tagging along to the gym?
With so much going on, it can even feel like it’s hard to breathe (figuratively, of course; if it’s hard to actually breathe, it’s probably time to make that doctor’s appointment you’ve been putting off).
Daily stress can impact many areas of your life: relationships, mental health, hormones, even your blood pressure.
Did you know that stress can also have a huge effect on your sleep? Sleeping stressed can hurt not only your sleep quality but it can also limit how long you’re able to stay asleep.
Stress can even undermine weight loss!
It’s hard to just drop the stress right before bedtime (an off-switch would be nice.)
Just when you think you’re about to drift off to Dreamland, your brain reminds you of something less-than-fun: an unexpected bill or, worst of all, work.
Here are a few things you can do to help eliminate nighttime stress:
1. Drink Some Herbal Tea
Be it your favorite herbal blend, plain old peppermint, or classic chamomile drinking herbal tea has a number of important effects ㅡ plus, herbal teas are caffeine-free.
Beyond the simple ritual and comfort of drinking it, certain teas can soothe your stomach and your mind, making easier to fall asleep and stay asleep.
2. Stretch It Out
You’ve heard that exercise is a great way to relieve stress, right? But did you know that gentle stretching exercises, like yoga, can help you get better sleep? Yoga is a mind-body practice that can help relax your body and calm your mind.
3. Read a Book
Put down your phone and turn off the TV and computers. Screens like these emit blue light that can disrupt your circadian rhythm and stop melatonin dead in its tracks.
Pick up a good, old-fashioned book instead. Some studies suggest that reading before bed can help reduce your heart rate and may even ease tension muscle tension.
Reading is a fantastic form of escapism that you don’t have to feel guilty about. You get to hang out in someone else’s world, leaving your own stressors behind for a little while.
Tip: Find it hard to put a book down once you’ve started? Set a timer, page limit, or chapter limit for your pre-bed reading ritual … and stick with it. “Just one more page” could easily turn into a late night marathon, which — while great stress relief — isn’t so great for catching up on some much-needed sleep.
4. Take a Bath
Like a hot toddy for your body (whiskey not required, but this is a judgment-free zone!), a hot bath or shower can do wonders for your well-being.
There’s nothing quite like sinking into a steaming bath after a long day. So on those nights when you’re feeling particularly high-strung, carve out some you-time and let the warm water wash your cares away.
Want a little boost for your bath? Try adding one of these to your water for maximum relaxation:
- Bath bombs
- Bath oils
- Epsom salts
- Essential oils like bergamot, lavender, ylang ylang, rose and clary sage
Remember: take your bath or shower at least two hours before bed to give your body plenty of time to cool down.
Did you know that regular meditation can help you sleep better? Some studies suggest that meditation can relieve stress and boost melatonin production.
It can be as simple or as elaborate (think lavender candles, intention-setting, even special pillows to sit on) as you choose.
Just find a quiet place, like your bedroom, get comfy, and breathe slowly. In through your nose, out through your mouth, focusing on nothing but the sensation of breathing until you feel like you’re finished.
Top Tip: don’t worry about knowing when you’ve meditated “enough.” It’s different for everyone. You might feel full or you might just feel like it’s time to stop.
Create a Routine that Works for You
Reducing stress is like most everything in your life, it all boils down to finding what works best for you. Once you’ve nailed down what works well: stick to it.
Consistency plays a huge role in your sleep quality.
Don’t skimp on comfort, either. Here are a few ways to make sure you’re getting the most out of your bedroom:
- Make sure your mattressis the best one for you
- Consider trading in your old pillows
- Give your mattress cover a once-over to make sure it’s still doing its job
A pleasing space and a personalized, de-stressing routine, could have you slipping off to sleep faster than you ever dreamed.