A good sleep is the thing we most need as a society. Stress, fast-paced lifestyles and endless stimulation is affecting our sleep, which in turn, affects our quality of life. Read more here on how to sleep better and to manage your stress and anxiety for a restful night.
Most of us don’t have an evening or nighttime routine, and so we usually go to bed too late. We don’t go to bed at the same time every night either, which distances us from the body’s natural cycle of sleep and makes it harder to get a restful sleep.
Even those who have always enjoyed a good and restful sleep can find that after a stressful event, or as they get older, their body isn’t conditioned to enter an instant state of relaxation to fall asleep right away.
The Goal: To Get Better Sleep and Consistently Restful Nights
People who don’t feel refreshed after their night’s sleep can feel anxious about their sleep. They might search for solutions and hacks; they might push their bedtime to a later time when they feel “really tired.” The cycle of dread kicks in.
The cycle of dread will introduce more anxious and hopeless feelings that grow over time – and will cause you not only to feel more tired, but also to adopt the belief that you can’t have a restful sleep.
Here Are 5 Ways to Sleep Better:
#1 Set REALISTIC Expectations
The number one tip for better sleep is to have realistic expectations. We should set expectations that are based on our current situation and act within it.
A parent to a newborn can expect to be woken up in the middle of the night – for them, after attending to their baby’s needs, the goal is to get back to bed and fall asleep quickly and easily.
A person who works different shifts probably can’t have a set time to go to bed, as this changes based on their shifts – they need to condition their mind and body to fall asleep on command.
A person who has their bed under a skylight might not get a very dark room throughout their sleep – they should teach their body to fall asleep regardless of exposure to light.
#2 Sleep Hygiene
It is essential to condition the body to get better sleep.
Different studies show that the blue light emitted by electronic devices stimulates the mind and so impacts the brain’s natural functionalities before bedtime by restraining the production of melatonin (the hormone that controls your sleep/wake cycle). Read more about the effect of blue light here: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/blue-light-has-a-dark-side
Consider replacing electronic devices with some relaxing activities like breathing, meditation, reading (paper books), etc.
Other stimulants can be watching the news – for some the news can trigger anxious feelings and racing thoughts.
Eating specific foods like sweets, fruits, acidic food, meat, fried food and more can cause an unpleasant feeling in your stomach or spike your blood sugar. Consider having a few nuts or a cracker before bed instead.
Caffeinated drinks, alcohol or drinks that contain sugar are stimulants and influence blood sugar. Instead, consider water – though, not too close to bedtime.
Regular aerobic exercise typically improves the quality of your sleep.
However, aerobic exercise done too close to bedtime can extend the time it takes to fall asleep.
#3 Let Go of Racing Thoughts
How many times have you found yourself lying in bed, ready to fall asleep while your thoughts were wandering ahead–“What do I have to do tomorrow?”
Keep Pen and Paper Next to Your Bed
Keeping a pen and paper available at your bedside can be very helpful.
If you find yourself thinking about your future tasks and worried that you won’t remember your thoughts the next morning, simply write them down and let them stay on the paper so you can clear your mind for better sleep.
Writing in a gratitude journal is another wonderful way to close your day.
As the last action of every night, write 3 positive things that you have experienced that day. More on Gratitude Journals as a perspective shifting tool in another blog.
#4 Focus Your Attention on Your Breathing
Focused breathing is a very practical way to keep yourself grounded.
There are many ways breathing can help you shift focus from stress to calmness.
One way is to
- engage your imagination and visualize inhaling calmness (what color is your calmness? What shape?) and
- exhale stress (what color is leaving you? Does it have a sound?).
- make every exhale twice as long as your inhale.
By focusing on your breath, you redirect your attention from runaway thoughts and stress to the action of breathing. When you make your exhales slow and long (yet comfortable) you activate the parasympathetic nervous system (which is also referred to as the rest and digest system).
#5 Set Intentions for the Next Day
As you lie down in bed, think about the next day – how would you like it to be?
When we feel anxious about something, we tend to push those feelings away and try to ignore them. However, they usually come back at night–just as we lie down in bed and get ready to sleep.
- Ask yourself how you want your next day to be? How do you want it to feel?
- Perform a mental rehearsal of your next day.What can you do to make it better?
- Can you prepare? Can you think of solutions?
How would you like to feel tomorrow when your manager is giving you yet another urgent project? Or when your child doesn’t want to go to school?
Set intentions based on how you want to feel.
For example: when I have empathy for my child, I have plenty of loving patience for her.
Even if my manager hands me an urgent project, I know I can deal with it, just like I have with many other projects before.
Stress and Anxiety
Stress and anxiety have a big impact on sleep issues (the ability to fall asleep, insomnia, restless sleep and more).
So, if you are wondering how to find better sleep, you can often focus on and manage your stress and anxiety levels to get a better, more refreshing night’s sleep.
If you think that your sleeping issues might be related to high stress or anxiety levels, it is highly recommended that you consult with a professional who can support you and equip you with strategies to lower and manage your stress or anxiety levels for better sleep as well as for other aspects of your life.
For more information on how to sleep better and to contact Miri Malkin @ Miri Malkin Hypnosis For Top Performance.