One of the corner pieces of the stress management puzzle is sleep. It can be difficult as sleep is often one of the first casualties of a stressful, busy, or anxious lifestyle, but in order to begin to restore balance, it’s a must! No differently than when your computer is acting up, popping up or freezing up, and you shut it down to reset the system, when you sleep, your brain has the opportunity to grow, heal, integrate learning and “reset” your system. In fact, these activities (the brain and body’s natural healing and repair) ONLY happen when you get deep and long-lasting sleep (needs differ slightly, but average a solid 8 hours). THis helps to boost immunity, balance hormones and chemicals, heal infection, reduce inflammation and a host of other stress-related reactions in the body. It also allows for clearer cognition (think problem solving skills) and emotion regulation (less snapping, crying, screaming and/ or irritability) which are the next steps in managing your stress in the longer term…
The best way to get in to a sleep routine?
- Limit caffeine intake
- Be active and exercise (the earlier in the day the better)
- Use aromatherapies that are relaxing (lavender oil, chamomile)
- Avoid eating late at night (digestion takes a LOT of energy)
- Unplug (the bright lights of smartphones, screens, tv’s and even overhead lighting inhibits melatonin required for sleep)
- Cool off (the body likes it a bit cooler for sleep)
- Read or journal (quite, focused activities before bed)
- If you do toss and turn, don’t stay in bed for more than 15 minutes. Get up and go back to bed in a while. Along the same lines, don’t use your bed as the kitchen table (to eat), couch (to converse or blog), the desk (to work or email). It’s for sleeeeeping only!
Good luck and sweet dreams…