Sleeping Under Stress

When someone is under a heavy amount of stress, even normal everyday activities can be difficult. The amount of stress you experience in your daily life does fluctuate day to day, but in these trying times, with a hard-hit economy and health crisis, your stress levels may be higher than normal. And when you stress, those normal activities can be very difficult indeed.

In my life, I work a couple of jobs, take care of a couple of kids, and manage a couple of time-consuming hobbies. These activities on their own are wonderful, but add on worries related to job loss, health decline, or other uncertainties, and the stress can take its toll on my mental well-being. In turn, these stressors can make me lose some much needed sleep. And as a parent, or any member of any family, we need our sleep, right?

Therefore, I’ve done a bit of digging and found a few habits to help us easily stressed out folks. Hopefully, we all find these useful to get that necessary slumber.

  1. Make Your Bed

Habit number one was a bit strange to me when I first read about it as it had more to do with housekeeping than sleep. Recently though, it’s grown on me.

Researchers have found that people who make their beds are 62 percent more likely to report sleeping better than those that do not (read about it here).

I was always a bedmaker until I had my second child. Since, I have only taken the time when I was expecting company. I kind of chalked up my poor sleeping abilities to being a parent of two but perhaps I was wrong. Since rekindling my bed making skills, I have found that I’m able to fall asleep better than before. Perhaps those neat and tidy sheets really have been calling my name!

  1. Open Your Shades

We are each born with an internal clock, and that clock beats to the presence of the sun. Aligning ourselves with natures alarm clock helps regulate our release of melatonin, the hormone associated with sleep (check it here). When we close the sun out of our lives, sometimes our internal clock gets a bit confused. Therefore, throwing open the shades can really help tune that clock and get it on a normal schedule.

Therefore, if you sleep with your shades open, when the sun rises in the morning, so will you! It’s a great way to feel refreshed and get your schedule back on track, because if you wake earlier, chances are you’ll fall asleep earlier in the day too!

Be wary though – Edmonton’s high latitude (creating our long days) means the sun rises quite early. If you prefer to go to bed late, perhaps waking with the sun is not your idea of a refreshing morning.  Check out more daytime sleeping tips here if needed.

  1. Take A Run

Research has also shown that a bit of cardiovascular exercise every week can also boost your sleep scheduling. A study found that those completing 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise a week had a 65 percent improved sleep quality (read it here).

The cooldown that happens after the workout is thought to help decline the body’s core temperature, an activity needed for sleep. If you workout, your body is getting that much needed cooldown practice and you are able to fall asleep easier because of it! I found this super neat but want to stress that you should only take a run at least two hours before going to bed as it can actually wake you up!

  1. Eat Whole Grains

Ever wonder why whole grain foods make you sleepy? It’s not just that you’re digesting a belly full of foods, you’re also getting that much needed magnesium!

Magnesium is believed to relax muscles and the nervous system, giving us a chance to relax our body and brain to begin that dozing process (read on here).

So, if you need an extra good sleep, try making a cup of whole wheat pasta before bed. It may just make your dreams come true!

  1. Massage

Of course, one super awesome way to relax and destress is a goodnight massage. Massage has been shown to improve sleep in infants, toddlers, children, teens, adults, the elderly, and even animals! Learn about it here.

I’ve always employed this strategy to destress. I do it during the day to get over certain mishaps. I don’t usually stress about small things, but when I do, it’s normally computer related. The last time, my computer had a full-blown tantrum and I had a deadline-related panic attack. My family could see my head explode like a little kernel of popcorn.

What did I do? I massaged my temples and took several deep breaths. It (eventually) did the trick.

So go ahead and ask a family member or give a massage to yourself. I have also just listened to spa music and that helps put me to sleep as well!

  1. Keep Electronics out of the Bedroom

This one is hardest for me. Both my husband and I have always enjoyed watching TV as we fall asleep. After reading into it, this can have a huge impact on your sleep cycle. The blue light that is emitted by our electronic devices mimics the effects of sunlight, which suppresses our bodies production of melatonin (recall that this is the hormone responsible for regulating sleep). While it can be nice to have a distraction from your lack of sleep, especially on hot nights, using your phone or watching TV is more likely to keep you awake even longer. If you are going to watch TV or use your phone before bed, it’s recommended you do it in a place that is not where you sleep to avoid sleeping in that blue light (read about it here).

Sweet Dreams

I do hope these sleep habits help you and your family overcome any sleep challenges you may be facing. Try to remember the world goes on and things will pick back up. Until then, try a few of these and let us know how it goes!