Stress is a common cause of both acute and chronic insomnia. Not getting enough sleep in times of stress can cause additional problems such as low immune system functioning, troubles focusing, excessive sleepiness, and weight gain. All these things can cause even more stress and more sleep problems leading to a vicious cycle that you need to end as soon as possible. Although seemingly impossible, getting eight hours of sleep when you are stressed can happen with the right techniques. Here are some ways you can do just that.
1. Try Relaxation Techniques Before Bedtime
It may be hard to not ruminate over whatever is troubling you before going to bed. However, you need to keep in mind that rumination will not solve the problem and that it will only prevent you from sleeping. Relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, Jacobson’s relaxation, autogenic training, breathing exercises are all successful ways to relax your muscles and the central nervous system which are overactive and tense in times of stress. Yoga, in particular, has been extensively studied for its therapeutic effects which also included insomnia relief*. Yoga helps balance the mind and body and the incorporation of breathing techniques in yoga postures relaxes* the central nervous system.
2. Eat a Handful of Almonds before Bedtime
Although eating before bedtime is generally considered unhealthy, snacking on a bunch of almonds may help induce a sleepy state. Almonds are a rich source of tryptophan which is an amino acid that functions as a precursor for different neurotransmitters, including the sleep-inducing melatonin. Studies on the seating effects of almonds show that these nuts are natural anxiolytics that can not only help you relax, but they can also promote sleep. Scientists observed prolonged sleep duration and longer time spent in NREM sleep in animal models given almond extracts.
3. Stay Away from Screens
You have probably tried to get your mind away from worries by reading some online content or watching a couple of videos. However, studies show that such habits can disrupt normal sleep. A recent study published in Behavioral Sleep Medicine even found that tablets, phones, and computers were strongly associated with insomnia whereas television seemed to not cause as many problems with maintaining a normal sleeping schedule. These types of media are actually quite stimulating to your brain so you should avoid them when trying to relax your thoughts.
4. Rethink Everything
Insomnia is frequently tied to ruminative thinking, especially during the night. Getting things into perspective may not seem like an easy task when suffering from stress, depression and anxiety. Nevertheless, it is necessary to learn how to control* your thoughts to get a good night’s sleep. As a recent study showed, people with anxiety-related insomnia reported frequent repetitive and worrying thoughts before bedtime. Consider cognitive behavioral therapy to learn how to cope with stress and shift your thoughts to the positives in your life.
5.Listen to Some Relaxing Music
Relaxing music can help induce some positive emotions and bring your mind into a more relaxed state. A study on the effects of relaxing classical music on students sleep quality found it worked better* than listening to audio books. Music is known to reduce* sympathetic nervous system activity, decrease* overall anxiety levels, reduce* blood pressure, and decrease* heart and respiratory rates. Music can also be a good distraction from worrying thoughts. Just make sure to choose music that you enjoy and that you find relaxing.
6. Try Aromatherapy
Aromatherapy is a traditional method for reducing* anxiety and promoting sleep with the help of scent. Lavender oil therapy, in particular, is highly praised for its ability to promote sleep. One study compared the effects of lavender oil aromatherapy to placebo in men and women. The researchers from this study observed that the lavender oil group experienced more deep slow wave sleep. The subjects in the lavender group also reported feeling refreshed in the morning and that the quality of their sleep improved*.
7. Avoid Caffeine at least in the Afternoon
Caffeine is a known stimulant helping people start their day in the morning and keeping them awake as the day goes by. But for insomnia sufferers, caffeine may exacerbate their sleep disorders. A systematic review on caffeine abstinence may be a helpful way to improve* your sleep hygiene if you suffer from insomnia. Because most methods intended to induce sleep focus on relaxing the nervous system, it makes perfect sense that avoiding stimulants can help with sleep problems.
Getting the recommended eight hours of sleep when you’re stressed may seem hard, but the truth is that with a just a little effort, you’ll be able to get yourself into a more relaxed state and get that much-deserved sleep. Follow these few tips and we’re sure you’ll finally be able to finally feel rested in the morning.