We’re more likely to sleep badly when we’re stressed. Improving sleep has been shown to reduce anxiety, stress and low mood.
Sometimes the daily stresses of life can get on top of us, and can leave us staring at the ceiling until 2am unable to sleep. For Mental Health Awareness week, we’ve come up with some tips to help you de-stress for a better night’s sleep.
A bath or warm shower before bedtime is a great way to relax and it can help you sleep. A hot bath or shower will warm you up, and when you get out your temperature will drop. Scientists have found that a drop in body temperature actually helps us drift off, so if your bedroom is cooler than your hot bath, it will make getting to sleep easier.
Mindfulness and meditation is big these days and for good reason, giving your brain some time to relax is a great way to get you ready for bed. We suggest the body scan, where you lay down and focus on tensing and relaxing each part of your body from the toes up.
Once you finish you might be surprised how relaxed you feel.
Watching TV or playing on a phone before bedtime is proven to make you sleep worse, so instead we suggest you put the screens away and read an old fashioned book. However, if you are suffering from sleep problems, reading in bed could make it worse.
Instead find a cosy corner, with dim lights and take an hour or two to read there. When you feel sleepy, you can put it down and head to bed.
Light can be a big disrupter when it comes to sleep. About an hour before bed begin to dim the lights and make the room darker, this will help your brain signal that it is time for bed.
We suggest you even try brushing your teeth in the dark (or in dim light), this can help your brain stay in night mode, rather than being woken up by going into a bright room just before bed. Just try not to cover yourself in toothpaste while you’re doing it.
Having a glass of wine or beer after a long day may feel like it helps you unwind, but just a small amount of alcohol can affect your sleep. A night cap may help you fall asleep when you’re head hits the pillow, but the quality of sleep you get will be much worse.
Despite the fact that alcohol may reduce the time taken to fall asleep and can lead to deeper phases of sleep (at least initially), it potentially suppresses other important phases of sleep such as rapid eye movement sleep (REM). Once the alcohol clears from the system there is a ‘rebound’ from the suppressed phase of sleep leading to increased REM sleep as well as more awakenings and lighter sleep. This can lead to more bizarre and intense dreams. If you ever wake up feeling exhausted after a few too many drinks, this is probably why.
If you don’t fancy reading there are plenty of other activities you can do away from screens. Why not try an adult colouring book, or even doing a crossword. Finding an activity that is calming and keeps you away from staring at your phone is a great way to unwind after a long day.
Exercise is a great way to de-stress, but make sure that you don’t do anything too strenuous less than two hours before bedtime. It’s better to do cardio or intense exercise earlier in the day, though some light stretching or yoga before bed could help you wind down.
Getting at least 30 minutes of exercise everyday will help you sleep, and if you can get out in the sunshine even better.
If these simple tips don’t help you sleep at night then you might be suffering from a sleep disorder such as Insomnia. Between 10% and 30% of the population suffer from Insomnia, and it is the most common sleep disorder.
The good news is Insomnia is curable, Sleepstation’s six-week course helps you take control of your sleep and change bad habits that could be disrupting your sleep.
Sleepstation has been proven to work better than face-to-face therapy, and you can overcome your problem without the need for sleeping pills.