Improving Your Sleep to Fight Stress

July 13, 2011 by  
Filed under About Stress

Getting enough quality sleep is one of the best weapons in the
stress-relief arsenal. There are numerous strategies for ensuring that you
sleep like a log each night, and this article discusses a number of them.

First and foremost, regular exercise is conducive to good sleep, among many
other health benefits. A thirty-minute walk or jog, a swim, a bike ride, or
some other form of aerobic exercise that gets your heart rate up is one of the
best ways available for ensuring that you get to sleep easily and stay asleep.
It is important to bear in mind, however, that exercising around your bedtime
is counterproductive, since this provides an energy burst that will serve to
keep you awake.

Caffeine and sugar are big no-nos when it comes to sleep. These are chemical
stimulants that will act on your nervous system and leave you staring wide-eyed
at the ceiling for hours on end. Nicotine is another stimulant, so smoking a
cigarette before bed should also be avoided. You may have heard that alcohol is
a depressant, and you may therefore think that alcohol before sleep is harmless
at worst or quite helpful at best, but you would be wrong. Although alcohol may
indeed make you drift off to sleep faster, you are bound to suffer from a night
of sleep characterized by twisting, turning, sweating, toilet breaks, and
overall poor sleep. Eating a heavy meal within a couple of hours before bed
will make it hard to enjoy quality rest. On the other hand, going to bed on an
empty stomach may cause you to experience hunger pains throughout the night.
Your childhood glass of warm milk with light snack is a timeless sleeping

If you like the occasional afternoon nap, be aware that, depending on your
body, this may make it difficult for you to fall asleep at your proper time.
Consider substituting a brisk walk for a nap.

Take control of your sensory stimuli. For hearing, if there is too much ambient
noise in your area, consider purchasing a set of soundproof headphones. For
sight, if too much light is making it hard to sleep or waking you too early in
the morning, consider purchasing an eye mask, the type people wear on
airplanes. For feeling, ensure your room maintains a comfortable temperature,
neither too hot nor too cold. And leave the door or window open so that you
are getting adequate ventilation.

Discover ways to slow your body and mind down in preparation for sleep. Ensure
that you have taken care of all the nagging problems of the day that you can.
Perhaps listen to some classical or New Age music. Read a book that does not
require too much mental strain. Have a warm bath with essential oils. Do some
yoga or Pilates. Meditate. Imagine peaceful scenes. Do what works for you.

Do not spend your time looking at the clock, counting the hours, and causing
yourself additional anxiety and stress. Each time you look at the clock may add
half an hour to the time it takes you to fall asleep.

Invest in a good mattress and pillow. There are too many considerations in this
regard to discuss here, so your best bet is to seek advice from a knowledgeable
friend or relative or discuss your options with a salesperson you can trust.

As a last resort, many insomniacs resort to sleeping pills. Nothing is stopping
you from this approach if you feel you need it, but before you start taking
sleeping pills, see whether a natural herbal remedy such as Valerian offers

Finally, keep in mind that the old guideline about eight hours of sleep every
night is only that, a guideline. You yourself can tell the difference between
five hours of deep sleep and eight hours of light sleep. Listen to your body
and you will not go wrong.

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