For some of us, getting a good night’s sleep is an ongoing battle. Going to bed stressed out can make you lose that battle without even realizing it. If this sounds familiar, it’s time to learn how to destress before bed.
How to Destress Before Bed
You may notice that when you’re experiencing a lot of stress, it’s difficult to settle down for bed. This isn’t your imagination. Stress may just seem like a mental issue, but it also affects your body in multiple ways that make sleep difficult. When you’re under stress, your body is flooded with hormones that keep you alert and ready to fight. In the past, this was an evolutionary trait that helped our ancestors survive in a dangerous world. These days, we have to seek out more productive ways to deal with our stress. If we don’t, our sleep will suffer.
Set Yourself Up for Stress-Free Sleep
Because stress has physical effects, it doesn’t just go away when you stop thinking about the thing that stresses you out. However, there are steps you can take to reduce the effects of stress, which may allow you to get some much-needed rest.
Work Out Stress During the Day
One of the reasons stress keeps us awake is that it’s preparing our body for a quick physical response to perceived danger. You can actually help your body work through that stress by getting some exercise. Almost every kind of exercise has been proven to reduce stress levels, so make a little physical activity a part of your daily routine.
Keep Your Bedroom Dark, Quiet, and Peaceful
Make your bedroom a nice place to sleep, and your body will come to associate it with relaxation. An ideal place to sleep is a dark room with little noise, so consider blackout curtains, earplugs, or a white noise machine. You can also consider other touches that will help you relax, like an essential oil diffuser.
Put Your Phone Away
If you’re a smartphone user, you’re probably aware that your phone can cost you sleep. While having all of the information in the world at your fingertips is handy, the endless barrage of notifications can be a source of stress. Sleep hygiene experts recommend putting your phone in another room while you sleep and using an analog alarm clock if you need one.
Create a Routine
A bedtime routine is another great way to signal to your body that it’s time for bed. If you do the same thing every night before you go to sleep, eventually it will train your body to realize that it is safe to rest. Luckily, there are a variety of proven strategies that can reduce your stress before bedtime:
- Take a shower or a hot bath. This will relax you, and also lower your body temperature, which makes sleep easier.
- Try a few minutes of meditation. A guided sleep meditation can help you relax, and there are many available on the internet. Or try other meditation techniques, such as body scanning, which allows you to gradually relax your muscles and your mind. You might even try something like tai chi, where meditation meets movement to put your body in a state of complete relaxation.
- Deep breathing can help you relax by flooding your body with oxygen. Try the four–seven–eight technique: breathe in through your nose for four counts, hold your breath for seven, and then breathe out through your mouth for eight. Do this until you feel relaxed.
- If stress-provoking worries are a part of why you struggle to sleep, take some time before bed to work through them. Try journaling about your concerns, or making a to-do list to help you tackle your stressors more effectively the next day.
Stress is a part of modern life, and it affects us all in various ways. Don’t let it ruin your rest. Spend some time figuring out how to destress before bed, and you’ll be sleeping better before you know it.
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