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Improve Sleep and Reduce Stress

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How much of our stress is related to sleep? And how does our insomnia influence our stress? It turns out the two are interconnected in more ways than we may think. Lack of sleep affects your memories, judgments, and overall mood, resulting in increased stress levels. Likewise, it becomes difficult to wind down and get a good night’s rest when stress levels are high. This torturous cycle can make or break a healthy lifestyle, so it’s essential to gain control of it.  

 Once your stress levels decrease, your sleeping habits may improve all on their own, so let’s start there. Here are the top ways medical professionals say you can reduce stress levels: 

Exercise regularly. We all know that famous line from Legally Blonde, “Exercise gives you endorphins, endorphins make you happy.” Well, Elle knew something. Endorphins are hormones that trigger feelings of happiness and pleasure, resulting in lowered stress levels. Exercise not only reinforces physical health, but it helps to clear the mind and reduce anxiety. Exercise is a top way to reduce stress because it’s an easily accessible option, and it’s incredibly effective. Non-competitive aerobic exercises, strengthening with weights, or movement activities like yoga are all fantastic for your body and mind.  

Eat and drink to optimize your health. Some may turn to alcohol or binging to manage stress, but these actions only help at the moment. These habits can increase tension in the long run, so it’s best to avoid them. Different foods can affect your energy levels and directly influence how you perform physically and mentally. Nourish your body with a healthy, balanced diet to help combat stress. 

Take some ‘you’ time and practice relaxation techniques. Set aside sometime every day to practice relaxation techniques. Relaxation could include deep breathing, meditations, or just spending time doing your favorite activity. Giving our minds a break from work or issues causing stress is essential for a balanced life. Give yourself breaks; it’s okay to press pause once in a while.  

If you’ve tried these tips and still feel that your stress levels are high, it may be time to consider adjusting your sleep routine. Here are some helpful habits to adopt at bedtime to ensure you get a good night’s sleep: 

• Stay consistent – go to bed and get up at the same time every day. 
• Make sure your environment is comfortable. Design your bedroom in a way that is cozy and relaxing.  
• Keep your bedroom dark and quiet when you go to sleep. 
• Use your bedroom for sleeping only. Try not to work or watch TV in your bedroom. 
• Avoid napping during the day.  
• Listen to relaxing music at a low volume if you prefer this over silence. 
• Try taking a natural sleep aid such as melatonin, but don’t rely on this every night. 
• Stay away from screens if you can’t sleep. Watching TV or scrolling on your phone can trick your brain into thinking it’s daytime.  
• Do something relaxing until you feel tired, such as reading a book or coloring.  
• Avoid caffeine. 

Staying consistent with these techniques is bound to help you get that total of 8 hours of sleep we all desire. Once you’ve gained control of your sleep habits, your stress levels should start to become more manageable and ultimately decrease. To live a happy and well-rounded life, we must spend time taking care of our bodies and minds. It’s not about having the time; it’s about making the time. So make time to study your current habits and ask yourself if there’s more you can do to lead a more fulfilled, stress-free life. Your future self will thank you.      

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