Did you know that you can reduce stress & anxiety by improving sleep habits?

Sleep is one of the most essential elements to consider regarding the health and well-being of the body and mind. 

Poor or insufficient sleep has been found to increase negative emotional responses to stressors and decrease positive emotions. Sleep problems are particularly common in people with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Sleep deprivation studies show that otherwise healthy people can experience increased anxiety and distress levels following poor sleep. Did you know it is as dangerous to drive sleep-impaired as driving under the influence of alcohol?  

Why is sleep so important? While we sleep, our brains are essentially washed, toxins are removed, events and memories are sorted and filed, and our brains are reset and refreshed.

Needless to say, a bad night’s sleep, consecutive bad nights of sleep, or insomnia can leave a person feeling awful, and this can cause a host of other issues in both body and mind.

Here are some of the things that happen while you sleep:

  • Almost as soon as we fall asleep, changes will occur in the body and the brain.
  • Body temperature drops, heart rate slows, breathing slows, and brain activity settles down.
  • During the night, the body goes through multiple sleeping cycles; these cycles last between 70 to 120 minutes and are made up of different stages.

Without proper sleep, multiple studies of both humans and animals suggest that being deprived of REM sleep interferes with memory formation. Other issues include:

  • Difficulty concentrating during the day
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Forgetfulness or poor memory

Over time, chronic sleep deprivation is linked to health conditions like diabetes, depression, obesity, and cardiovascular disease.

Without adequate sleep, your cognitive performance will decline. You may find yourself forgetting things more often, as sleep deprivation highly affects working memory. In fact, short sleepers, who regularly sleep fewer than six hours per night, can experience the same impairments to their working memory as people who haven’t slept for two nights in a row. 

So, how much sleep should you get? 

Our sleep requirements can change with age, gender, health, and what is happening in our lives; generally, 7-9 hours of sleep each night is recommended for adults.

This all sounds great, right? But what if you can’t fall asleep? 

Here are some tips and tools to improving sleep habits: 

Create an ambient environment 

our unconscious mind is always at work determining whether or not we are safe. When we create an ambient environment, it can help our sympathetic nervous system to calm down and switch off, allowing our parasympathetic nervous system to take over and feel calm. To create an ambient environment, keep your room clean, tidy, and feeling fresh, and keep the temperature comfortable; a cooler temperature will help you sleep. White noise can help you to feel calm. Try playing calming, ambient music or having a fan in your room. Keep lighting to a minimum; this can help you to feel calm and peaceful.

Seek Regularity

A great way to train your body to sleep well is to go to bed and get up around the same time each day. This can help to set body clocks to a good rhythm; falling asleep and getting up at the same time may not always be possible; however, setting an intention for regularity can be helpful.

Sleep Rituals 

Setting up a good atmosphere can be enhanced by sleep rituals. Sleep rituals can indicate to your mind that it is time for sleep. Some rituals that could be tried are breathing practices, gentle yoga stretches, or a calming cup of caffeine-free chamomile tea.

A Relaxing Bath 

Having a warm bath 1-2 hours before bedtime will raise your body temperature, then as your body temperature begins to drop again, it is scientifically proven that this can help you to feel sleepy Health benefits of sleep The health benefits of sleep are many, getting good sleep is potentially one of the best things we can do to achieve overall health of the brain and body.

Remove Electronic Devices 

Such as TVs, computers, and smartphones, from the bedroom. If you can’t remove them, set limitations. Don’t watch television or use your phone in your bed if possible. Otherwise, stop these activities 30 minutes before sleep. This will signal to the body that this is a place of rest. Set quiet hours on your phone that will limit the distractions technology presses on us at all hours of the day.

Avoid Large Meals, Caffeine, and Alcohol Before Bedtime 

Alcohol decreases REM sleep; since REM is a very mentally restoring phase of sleep, it is critical for learning, memory, and emotional health. If we are waking up feeling like we are not well rested, considering our alcohol intake could be a good idea. Alcohol fragments sleep, so you will actually wake up more often during the night; however, you won’t be conscious of each time that you wake. You will not feel restored when you wake up, so you will know you haven’t had good quality sleep.

Get Some Exercise

Being physically active during the day can help you fall asleep more easily at night.

Try some of these activites to reduce stress & anxiety by improving sleep habits.