9 Ways to Reduce Stress and Improve Sleep
Stress affects you physically, emotionally, and behaviorally. The 2014 Stress in America survey shows that stress affects half of all Americans. Additionally, 42% of adults think they can’t effectively manage their stress; 40% say they cannot sleep because of stress.
Stress makes it difficult for you to relax before and during sleep. Having a few techniques can be helpful under stress. Here are 9 simple ways to relieve stress and improve sleep.
Listen to Music
Have you noticed how music can make you feel relaxed? Music helps you calm down and fight stress. A study shows that music can be an effective muscle relaxation technique for anxiety and insomnia relief. A group of college students also found out that listening to classical music at night can help decrease depression and improve sleep.
When choosing music to help you relax at home, pick instrumentals with calming pace. Include light jazz, classical, and nature soundtracks too. Focus on the beat and melody of the music while laying back with the lights turned off.
Relax Before You Go to Bed
Decrease stimulation as much as possible during the evening. Dim the lights and take things slower. Do things that you find relaxing like reading, practicing a gentle yoga or talking about your day with your friend or your partner. Make relaxation the theme of your evening. If there are tasks that you really need to finish, practice doing them in a moderate and relaxed manner.
Take a Warm Bath
Once you’re done for the day, a warm bath before going to bed will help you relax. It will also adjust your body’s temperature and signal your brain that it is already time for sleep.
Take a relaxation bath by combining 1/2 cup Epsom salts with a few drops of essential oil in hot water. Your skin will absorb the magnesium in the Epsom salts and will promote the feeling of relaxation.
Caffeine can stay in your body for 8 to 14 hours after consumption. The effects of caffeine vary from person to person. It has different effects on the body even within minutes after it’s consumed. It can result in short-term benefits like increase alertness and concentration which will help in dealing with stress. However, too much caffeine can result in anxiety, irritability, tremors, and insomnia.
If you are having trouble sleeping, try completely eliminating caffeine for a month. See how your sleep improves.
Have a Healthy Meal for Dinner
Eating healthy helps reduce stress and improve the quality of your sleep. To enjoy better health, consider eliminating certain items from your diet. Consume soda, caffeine, sugar, and coffee lightly. Instead, eat foods containing nutrients such as melatonin, tryptophan, and magnesium that help promote sleep. Healthy eating combats stress and helps relieve tension.
During dinner, eat a combination of complex carbohydrates and high-quality protein. Carbs earned a bad reputation because of some popular diet fads, but it is essential in your diet. It helps boost your serotonin levels which can reduce stress and improve your mood. Choose complex carbohydrates like whole wheat pasta, whole grains, sweet potatoes, and oatmeal to keep stress at bay.
Avoid Alcohol and Cigarettes
People who abuse cigarettes and alcohol often have sleeping disorders. They probably think alcohol aids in falling asleep fast. Unfortunately, it does not guarantee quality sleep. Drinking alcohol before sleeping results in less restful sleep as well as more frequent awakenings in the middle of the night.
Similar to alcohol, cigarettes lessen the quality of sleep too. It contains nicotine, a stimulant known to cause anxiety and alertness in the brain. A study at the School of Medicine of Johnson Hopkins University shows that compared to non-smokers, smokers are more likely to complain about not feeling well rested even after a full night’s sleep. Avoiding alcohol and cigarettes increases your body’s melatonin production. Melatonin helps in making you feel sleepy at night, sleep better, and regulates the body rhythm.
Clear Your Mind
Thinking too much about your problems and difficulties in life may cause stress. You need to clear your mind before going to bed. If you worry, it may be difficult sleep well. A study shows that writing down your negative thoughts and throwing all of them away can help clear your mind and release stress.
Clearing your mind in the middle of difficulties and challenges may sound difficult, but it is not impossible. Allow your mind to rest. Whatever concerns you have u can wait until the morning when you feel more energized and fresh.
Focus on the positive too. When you are lying in bed, it helps to turn to more positive thoughts. Focus on good memories and happy events.
Take Deep Breaths
Breathing is an autonomic function. Often, it is easy to overlook its role when it comes to relaxation. The pace and depth of breathing can affect your heart rate and blood pressure. Deeper, slower breaths can induce relaxation too. It is a powerful way to clear your body of stress and tension. It is also a great way to relax as a part of your nightly transition to sleep.
Changing the way you breathe can change the way you feel and how the body will react to what is going on around you. A study shows that when musicians practice breathing techniques 30 minutes before performing, it leaves a positive impact on their heart rate and leaves them feeling less anxious and tense.
The 4-7-8 breath developed by Andrew Weil based on yoga breathing principles helps induce sleep and relaxation. Begin by placing the tip of your tongue behind your upper teeth. Take full exhales through the mouth while making a “whooshing” sound. Close your mouth then inhale to a count of four through your nose. Hold your breath for seven counts then exhale again through your mouth while making the “whooshing” sound. Repeat the steps three times.
Slow and deep breathing helps the body override the sympathetic system which controls your flight response and ability to relax. When you practice deep breathing, you are giving your body the permission to quit being on high alert and to relax instead.
Another way to reduce stress and to achieve better health is through exercise. A good exercise routine can help you sleep well. A study conducted by the researchers from Northwestern University found out that a person who does aerobic exercise four times a week was able to improve the quality of sleep from poor to good.
You do not have to be a powerlifter to get the full benefits of exercise. Spend at least 30 minutes a day of moderate exercise can help your body produce endorphins and improve well-being and relaxation.