Let’s go over some tips to sleep better and reduce stress because during the night when our body is at rest this is one of the most important times to reduce stress. Both our mind and body is running all day long, you hardly get a chance to make time for yourself which is why it’s important to explain the significance of a restful nights sleep.
We all know what it feels like to not sleep well, in fact some people know what it’s like for lack of sleep to become normal. So here’s the issue, with a foggy mind, irritated nerves and a tired body all the time we’re not at our best. What happens is, we form the habit of not sleeping well, so day in and day out our body is exhausted, we can’t seem to find any energy and we pretty much just get through the day.
I’m here to tell you it doesn’t have to be that way, you can sleep well, in fact your body wants you to sleep well, it needs you to, you just need to give it a little help.
Given the fact that we’re creatures of habit; we sleep on the same side of the bed, we eat breakfast at the same place at the dinner table, we watch tv on the same side of the couch; these were all formed habits just like not sleeping which ultimately had everything to do with little habits formed. You’ll see a distinct difference between people who form habits that help them sleep well and those that form habits that do the opposite. So let’s go over new habits we can form that will actually help us get a restful nights sleep and reduce stress on our body.
Before we get into tips to sleep better and reduce stress the first thing we need to do is look at prevention, what is preventing us from sleeping, what habits have we formed that narrow our success scope to sleep well?
Stimulants (what keeps you awake)
First of all let’s go over some stimulants that we’ve formed as habits that are keeping us awake which is the opposite of tips to sleep better and reduce stress. I use the word stimulants because these habits wake us up, it could be chemically inside our mind of body or it could be something as simple as sounds and vision.
…is certainly a stimulant even though some may say alcohol makes them tired (and relaxed). You’d be surprised if you knew how many people got home after work and pour themselves a glass of wine, mixed hard alcohol or cracked a beer, simply out of habit. Alcohol doesn’t put us in a restful state, it actually speeds up our heart rate, in an unhealthy unnatural way (unlike exercise) which prevents us from sleeping.
We think we need alcohol after a ‘tough day’s work’, we think it relaxes us and puts us in a quality state of mind. But the truth is, this is an external reward, it’s nothing more than a habit for both your mind and body, and by finding new habits (which we’ll get into later) that are healthier and put less stress on your mind and body, you’ll be able to get much more rest at night.
….is no different, maybe some of you are in the habit of having a cigarette before bed. Once again, this is a habit formed, the only reason we believe a cigarette relaxes us is because we’ve formed that habit of thinking and feeling with our emotions that ‘this cigarette will relax me’. Or when we’re stressed out we think ‘I need a cigarette’. The only common factor in a cigarette relaxing our body is that our mind believes our body is relaxing after one. Toxins like cigarettes and alcohol actually put more stress on our bodies and makes it more difficult to get a restful night sleep.
Sugary and fatty foods
…..are also in the ‘stimulant’ category because sugar spikes our blood sugar level, which means we get a boost of energy. Sure there’s a crash soon to come but this isn’t the crash we’re looking for before bed time. Once again, snacking on a bag of chips or cookies while watching tv is a formed habit, what we need to do is form different habits right before bed that put us in a relaxed stated instead of a stimulated state.
By consuming these hard to digest foods late in the evening we’re actually taking energy from our body (that we would use to rest and heal) and send it toward our gut as it’s trying hard to process, break down and digest these foreign substances we just put in our body, which is actually preventing us from sleeping.
…is also a stimulant, not exactly like foods or substances previously listed but work certainly keeps our mind running at a rapid pace. I know it’s not easy but try to leave your work at work or at least take an hour or so off before you start getting ready for bed. Put a piece of paper with a pen next to your bed so if something comes up that you want to write down or you don’t forget write it down and move on.
Whatever is going on in your life, take a step back from work late in the evening so you give your mind a chance to slow down, have some rest and be back to 100% the next morning.
Movies or T.V. late in the evening is the same as a stimulant on your mind. It’s incredible to know how many people actually have tv’s in their bedrooms, what’s more alarming is how many of us fall asleep with them on.
We’re watching and then listening to loud action pictures that stimulate our mind. Ever wake up and say, “I just wanted to see what happened when”, or how about “I couldn’t turn it off because it was so good”. It doesn’t matter if it’s action, horror or even dramas, these t.v. put our minds in a peak state while we’re following a long, exhilarated, in fear or curious to what will happen next.
You need to give your mind a chance to rest without stimulants of any kind if you want a chance at a restful nights sleep.
Food late at night
Now before we move into suggestions on forming proper habits I want to talk about food. I’m not one of those people that say you shouldn’t eat after 6pm. I don’t think dinner should be your last meal, in fact I believe it’s more beneficial to have a clean snack in the evening so you’re not raiding the pantry trying to fight cravings.
However, what you do want to stay away from is heavy foods that are hard to digest. Now I’m not going to tell you, you should never eat red meat, or stay away from pasta. But what I will tell you is, similar foods weigh heavy on the digestive system, which means it takes more energy from your body (meaning all the blood from your body will rush to your digestive system to help your body digest these types of food).
So if you are going to eat ‘hard to digest foods’ I would suggest having an early dinner so your digestive system isn’t working overtime while you’re trying to sleep; which means instead of your body working for you, healing and resting you, it’s pretty much just trying to digest food.
Earlier we went over how it’s ‘normal’ for some of us not sleep regularly. If this is you now, it would be hard to tell the difference but once you start to live a healthier lifestyle and once you start to sleep better, you may notice yourself more tired and even groggy in the morning after a big dinner like steak or pasta that night. Again that’s because your digestive system was draining your body of healing energy to digest that meal.
Healthy Sleep Habits
The very first thing we need to understand in regards to tips to sleep better and reduce stress is habits. So it’s important to first find sleep habits that are obtainable to you and find a way to consistently do them over and over until this ‘exercise’ becomes a habit and finally a ritual. A week isn’t good enough and as much as we like the term ’21 days to form a habit’ that may not be long enough. Just think about how many years we’ve poured ourselves a drink after work, think about how long we’ve been lighting up a cigarette after dinner. These formed habits took years to ingrain deep in our brains, so deep that we crave it if we don’t have it.
Now I’m not saying your new found healthy habit will take years to form, all I’m saying is give it time. Many of us give up just before we hit success, we don’t give our habits a chance to form especially when we’re just starting to form habits (which is hard to see when you’re on the inside).
Remember small steps are sustainable steps so even though you may not be able to see progress there could very well be small progress happening. And finally, I know most of us are wrapped around tangible results. Understand the exact number doesn’t mean much when you’re working towards something new in your life.
Understand that most of the time when quick results come, they go away just as quickly. Look for sustainable results that will last instead of the quick fix that will be quick to go.
Ideas for Healthy Habits
Now remember these are just ideas, you could try them or they could give you ideas for something else. Remember that we’re in a comfort zone and if you really want new found success you’ll need to live outside your comfort zone at least a little bit until you’re just a little more comfortable with different habits. There’s nothing wrong with trying something and if you don’t like it try something else, but if you’re not interested in any type of change, if you want to keep your same old habits, there’s a very good chance your sleep habits will stay the same and so will your levels of stress.
It’s worth noting that time frame makes a big difference with forming habits. When we grab a cigarette after we eat, it’s not roughly within two hours of eating, it’s right after we eat, this is the habit we formed. When we grab a coffee in the morning or hit the staff room at break we usually head straight to the coffee machine, we don’t have a coffee ‘sometime’ during the day.
Forming new habits during certain times of the day will be as equally as important as it was when you started the habits you have now, which in large part has to do with the time you do them.
Once you start to develop habits at certain times both your mind and body expect it to happen.
Have you ever ran downstairs to the storage room and had no idea why you went there? How about the fridge, ever open it up and stand there with a blank stare not knowing why you opened the door? See, due to muscle memory your body subconsciously knew you were hungry, so you automatically went to the fridge hardly thinking about it and forgot why you went there in the first place.
These are exactly the formed habits I’m talking about when I refer to forming healthy habits that will help you sleep at night, give your body some rest and the ability to reduce stress.
Early I told you I’d explain what a relaxed state is. Now that we know what a stimulated state is and how to get there let’s cover the opposite which will ultimately help you reach your goal.
A relaxed state is when your mind and body is relaxed, sounds simple I know. But we still need to put ourselves there. So when we’re stimulated we’re excited, our eyes are open (in fact our pupils actually dilate – meaning grow larger to let more light in), our heart could be pumping faster than normal, even our ears are at a stimulated state listening to what noise may come next.
Our goal here is to do the exact opposite. We want to feel relaxed and secure, at ease in every way possible. Think about leaving a spa and how relaxed you were; think about a retreat you recently went on or a trip to the mountain and remember how relaxed, refreshed and rejuvenated you felt.
I know this sounds like a little much, especially because of how we often try to fall asleep with children running around, music blaring, the TV still on; or falling into bed from exhaustion hoping to get a few hours before it’s time to get up again.
The issue is our body and minds are much too stimulated so we toss and turn, we’re uncomfortable, we even believe we’ll never get to sleep and for half the night we prove ourselves correct. (Weather you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right every time –Henry Ford). At the very least you should start to believe you can get some rest.
So what can help you sleep?
Pouring yourself a bath at the same time every evening is a good habit to develop, now it doesn’t have to be every evening. It could be every Tuesday and Thursday night for example, whenever you choose, it should be on the same days and same times so you can start to develop a habit for both your mind and body as previously suggested.
…is another suggestion that would help put your body in a relaxed state. Smells are a fantastic way to trigger memories which are usually pleasant and next to immediately change your state. Think about coffee in the morning; many of us have a strong emotional bond to coffee simply because it was a warm morning smell made by a loved parent. It makes us feel welcome, safe and secure.
Lighting incense in the evening, again at the same time could also start to help put yourself in a relaxed state if you do it often enough.
(*side note: I’m talking about all natural incense here, not those ‘glade plugins’ or any other toxic substance that gives off fumes that would inoculate a small animal. We want to avoid toxins especially at night to keep those synthetic smells out of your bedroom or bathroom (or entire house) which cause harm to our minds and bodies.)
Playing soft music
…is another way to put yourself in a relaxed state. Look for different types of music, it could be flutes or sounds from the rain forest. Everyone is different and everyone has different preferences, just because one thing works for someone else doesn’t mean it will work for you. It would be a good idea to try different things instead of trying one CD and dismissing the whole idea if it doesn’t work for you.
…help turn your room or ‘safe space’ into a Zen like atmosphere, with running water or a light mist, many people find these fountains very relaxing and help put them in a relaxed state just before bed time. And you don’t have to sleep with the fountains on if the noise keeps you from sleeping. Try turning the fountain on 20 minutes before bed while you are preparing for the night and then turning it off just before you crawl into bed.
Fountains also give off negative ions which help clean the air and balance out the positive ions technology gives off like computers, phones and tv’s.
Having a Himalayan salt lamp is another fantastic tool to help you sleep better. This is another way to give off positive ions in the atmosphere. Even the sight of a lite up salt lamp is relaxing.
Zen like Room
So many of us have junk all over our room, in fact we treat our rooms like a garbage can. Clothes on the floor and bed instead of on hangers, drawers open with clothes hanging off them. Literally garbage or trash filled in the can or on the floor, and this is the place we sleep. And no I’m not trying to sound like your mother.
Not to mention all of the technology blaring from the tv, phones, tablets and more (once again filling our room with positive ions). We eat in our room and leave crumbs on our bed and wrappers on the floor. We lie in our beds and watch tv and movies, we wake up with our phones right next to us and check the latest news feed before we do anything else. All the while wondering why we aren’t able to sleep.
Only recently did we start putting tv’s in our bed rooms and a number of other forms of noise and distractions. Get a salt lamp if you don’t have one, even a fountain; remove the tv from your bedroom, as much as you think you need it there, you don’t.
Make a conscious decision to stop using your bed as a couch; your room should be personal, it should be special, it’s the place you rest your hard worked body for the entire night. It’s time we start sleeping better and to do that we need to create positive habits and a positive atmosphere.
Our room should be Zen like, it should be peaceful; the only time we should enter our room or spent time in it is to change clothes, relax with a book or sleep. Do your best to create a peaceful atmosphere, we were meant to sleep in dark quiet conditions.
And the last thing I want to mention regarding sleeping is waking up. If you have a salt lamp or even a light next to your bed turn it on in the morning, play soft music when you awaken, get up slowly and make sure you give yourself enough time so you’re not rushing out the door.
There’s nothing worse than getting up late, running around the house in a stressful state, trying to remember everything while you run out the door.
Many of us wake up to a miserable alarm sound, then we jump up, turn the bedroom tv on or blare music from our phones (after we check our email). We turn all the lights on, not giving our eyes a chance to adjust or our bodies the ability to wake up in a peaceful manner. Remember we just slept 7-8 hours, love your body, give it a chance to wake up gently and it will love you back.
Getting up groggy and half rested doesn’t have to be your normal, once you start to create positive sleep habits you’ll give your body a chance to rest and feel good in the morning. We shouldn’t have to wake ourselves up, given proper habits of going to sleep at the same time, when our body is rested it will naturally start getting up at the same time, without an alarm.
..sleep tight! This tips to sleep better and reduce stress will certainly help you get restful nights sleep. Remember always look to prevent first and pay attention to what’s actually keep you up in the evening. After that, some simple tips to sleep better and reduce stress will make a world of difference.
Create your healthy habits, set a time frame and use the little tools suggested like a bath, incense, music a fountain and more all to get a restful nights sleep.
I hope these tips to sleep better and reduce help you in your life to rest easy, reduce stress and sleep better. And if there’s anything missed that help you sleep better I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.