Sleep—you spend a third of your life doing it then why does it seem so hard sometimes? There are many reasons, but there’s one big one that’s hard to ignore—stress. We all have it—stress that is—and lack of sleep can make it worse. However, there are plenty of ways to improve your sleep habits and manage stress so that you can get a full seven to nine hours before the alarm goes off.
Get Emotions Under Control with Meditation
The more you learn about meditation, the more you should embrace it because it comes with some serious health benefits and less stress is one of them. Here’s why—meditation, particularly mindfulness meditation, bridges the gap between your brain’s emotional and logical centers. Logic and reasoning keep the emotional part of your brain in check (and stress levels manageable).
But, there’s more. Chronic pain or achiness keeping anyone awake? Meditation reduces pain perception. It also rejuvenates the health of your cells. Seriously, it’s like sleep’s version of a fountain of youth. And, you can reap the benefits in as little as 10 to 15 minutes of meditation a day. Now, the more time you spend meditating, the better you’ll become at it, and the faster you’ll see the benefits. That also means the sooner your stress levels will go down.
Step Away from Social Media (and Screens)
Screentime hurts your sleep and increases stress. Screens that emit a bright blue light, and a lot of them do, suppress sleep hormones, which makes it harder for you to fall asleep. You’ve got two options:
Turn off your devices two to three hours before bed. That gives your brain plenty of time to release sleep hormones. You may find that as you spend less time in front of a screen that your stress levels go down too.
Change your device to a “night” or “night shift” mode. If you don’t have that option, at least turn down the brightness.
Make Bedtime Sacred
It’s time to buckle down and go to bed on time. An occasional late-night won’t hurt, but more often than not, you need to go to bed at the same time, including weekends. Give yourself plenty of downtime before turning out the light. If you feel like you’ve had some time to yourself, you’ll be better prepared to shut down.
You can also help by making your bedroom a place you want to be. Get a mattress that supports your weight, height, and sleep style. If you can’t wait to get in your bed, you’re more likely to be there early. Get rid of clutter and keep the room cool, dark, and quiet. Your bedroom should be your peaceful place where stress gets left at the door.
Take a Walk Outside
Exercise and sunshine work wonders for your sleep quality. Naturally, the more you exert your body, the more tired you’ll be. But you don’t have to run yourself to exhaustion to reap the sleep benefits. Just get your heart moving a few days a week so that fatigue is on your side.
Exercising outside is even better. The brain uses sunlight (blue spectrum light) to time the sleep cycle. Peak light levels take place in the morning or early afternoon. As the light begins to fade, the body preps to release sleep hormones. Increasing your exposure to sunlight can help keep your body in sync with your day-night pattern.
Stress is an unavoidable part of life. Sleep can help you keep it at bay, especially when you purposefully develop healthy sleep-related habits. Give yourself time, stick to your bedtime, and before you know it, your sleep time will go up and your stress will go down.