Manage Stress: Sleep

Focus on Health to Help Manage Stress

 

Manage Stress with Health: Sleep

Sleep is refreshing and can leave a person feeling ready for the new day. It is hugely important to get adequate shut-eye during stressful times in your life because sleep does a whole lot for your brain! Different people require different amounts of sleep, but it’s pretty consistent across the board that when there is an elevated level of stress, there is an elevated need for good, sound sleep!

Sleep is a great way to help manage your stress. It is refreshing and leaves one feeling ready for the new day. Of course, some people find it very difficult to sleep when they are under a lot of stress. A Tel Aviv University doctor named Dr. Avi Sadeh said that in a study he took of students, he found that those who tended to focus on their emotions and anxiety during the high-stress period were more likely to shorten their sleep, while those who tended to ignore emotions and focus on tasks extended their sleep and shut themselves off from stress. So, even if you are a person who tends to lose sleep during stressful periods, it is possible for you to get this much needed element of stress management back into your life. Sleep helps people better find and utilize balance and moderation in other aspects of their lives and increase the ability to delay gratification, helping manage and reduce stress overall.

Different people require different amounts of sleep, but overall most benefit from getting more sleep in times of greater stress. Many, many people are sleep deprived these days. Studies show that, on average, people perform best with approximately eight hours of sleep. Yet, the majority of people – at least in the US – probably get around six hours on average and frequently dip below that quantity as well. It is possible that you are one of those rare people who don’t need as much sleep – or, maybe you’re the person who wants more sleep but just can’t seem to fall asleep at night. If you have trouble sleeping, there are several ways you can go about increasing your chances of getting that much needed rest. If, for some reason, you continue having difficulty with getting the sleep you need after trying suggestions such as the ones we have listed below, you may consider taking naps during the day. Perhaps spreading out your sleep between naps during the day and sleeping at night will help you get the amount of sleep your body will require. Even if you do get an acceptable amount of rest, you may consider trying some of the following suggestions anyway to help ensure you get the most out of your sleep.

  • Reduce consumption of alcohol or caffeine.
    Drinking alcohol causes a person to sleep lightly which leaves one feeling less rested when they wake up. Feeling less rested will, of course, leave one feeling more tired. On the other hand, caffeine can keep a person awake – especially if the person has it later in the evening. The potential effects of this are pretty obvious as keeping someone from falling asleep when they have to get up at a certain time will definitely lessen the amount of sleep they’d be getting. Of course, this does not mean you have to cut out either element entirely. However, if you find you have difficulty sleeping, you may seriously consider decreasing the amount you are intaking of either one, if you are intaking any at all.
  • Exercise regularly.
    Exercising helps the body want to sleep. Using your muscles and expending energy helps prepare the body for relaxation later. If the exercise is performed in the later part of the day – such as late afternoon or early evening – it will help promote sleep. Exercising regularly helps to relax the brain as well. If both the brain and the body are relaxed when you lay down to sleep, your rest will be better and you will feel more thoroughly refreshed. Some people prefer to get their workout done in the morning before they shower and go to work. This still will expend energy for the day, and will help you sleep better at night. If you find it still difficult, however, and have time to do some mild exercises or stretches in the evening, you may consider adding them into your schedule.
  • Be consistent.
    Another important aspect of sleeping is being consistent about when you go to bed and when you get up. The human body does much better on a regular sleeping routine than on sporadically getting up or going to bed at odd hours of the day or night. If you are a person with a changing schedule, this can be much more difficult for you. It could also be hard to keep a consistent routine if you live with inconsistent people or have outside elements that play a part in the function of your daily regimen. However, when you can be in control, do what you can to keep some kind of an orderly schedule for your sleeping routine. The point of this tip is to try and help reduce your stress, so getting worked up about it if you are having difficulties with this suggestion probably won’t produce the results you want. Instead, perhaps try one of the other sleeping suggestions, or find more ideas either online or by speaking with someone you trust.
  • Complete tasks an hour before sleep.
    During the day most of us are very busy people. We are busy physically, mentally, and emotionally. We solve problems in our minds, fix things with our hands, and help others with their problems. Task after task fills day after day of the average person. In turn, we need to be sure to give ourselves plenty of time to wind down in the evenings and let our brains and bodies relax a little bit. For many people, their minds keep them up at night – thinking of possibilities, problems they are trying to solve, or projects they are working on. Other people work themselves so hard during the day that they are not kept up by such pesky thoughts at night. Still, you may want to consider avoiding tasks that engage your brain and giving yourself plenty of time to unwind at the end of the day before you lay down for bed.
  • Establish a comfortable sleeping environment.
    Feeling comfortable enough to actually fall asleep can be quite critical to how well you actually sleep. Avoid running yourself until you are crashing and passing out so that it doesn’t matter how comfortable you are. Instead, try a few things to make sure you are going to get a good quality, restful sleep. Things like the following might help:

    1. Wear something comfortable.
    2. Turn the lights down or completely off.
    3. Keep the room cool – or whatever middle temperature is good for you. People rarely sleep well in rooms that are too hot or too cold. Try keeping your room between the temperatures of 65° Fahrenheit and 75° Fahrenheit.
    4. Use ear plugs to block out noise if necessary. (Although, if you need to hear an alarm in the morning, this might not be such a great option – unless your alarm is really loud.)
    5. Listen to soft music or a white noise machine if you need some background sound.

    Most likely some combination of the above suggestions will help you relax and fall to sleep. If you have trouble with waking up in the middle of the night, be sure the above ideas are still in place. Also, especially if you wake up thirsty, you might consider keeping water by your bed at night. This way you don’t have to get up, move around, turn lights on, etc. You can simply quench your thirst while remaining in your comfy bed.

In summary, sleeping is vital to everyday functionality. Having enough sleep allows you to be alert, helps with decision making, and perceiving and reactions for important things like understanding what someone says or driving. Sleep, unfortunately, is often overlooked and kind of pushed aside as a strong method for enhancing one’s daily performance or reducing the effects of stress. It is often put low on our to-do list because we are trying to accomplish so much else in our day. If this is true for you, is it really a wonder why you are having difficulty managing your stress? If you don’t have enough time in your day to get the proper amount of rest for your body to perform its best, how well do you think you’re doing everything else? Seriously consider taking a step back, saying no to a few activities, and reallocating that time to relax and give your body the rest it deserves.

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