Do you know what one of the most effective ways to relieve stress is? It’s sleep. Yes, exercise is great and meditation is a wonderful tool, but the best thing you can do to have less stress on a regular basis is to get a good night’s sleep.
You already know this to be true. Think about how much harder your job, and your life in general, feels after you’ve spent a night up with the kids or worked until four in the morning to finish an important project. You become grumpy, it’s harder to focus, and every little problem suddenly becomes insurmountable. You feel stressed throughout the day, and it only gets worse when you sleep poorly for several days in a row.
And here’s the interesting part. The average person doesn’t get the optimal amount of sleep at night, and even when we do, our sleep quality is often not good. Too often our sleep is interrupted during the night, even if we don’t fully wake up, and most of us have trouble falling asleep.
Fortunately, there are a lot of things you can do to improve both the quantity and quality of your sleep. Before you tell yourself that you can’t afford to sleep more, realize that you’ll be less focused and productive if you don’t focus on sleep. You’ll actually get more done if you invest time in a good night’s rest.
Start by establishing a bedtime routine. Try to go to bed at the same time every night, even on the weekends. This will help your body get into a rhythm that will make it easier for you to fall asleep and stay asleep through the night. Remove distractions from your bedroom. This means leaving your phone in the living room. If you need an alarm clock, buy an alarm clock. You don’t want those alarms and notifications keeping you from getting into that all-important deep sleep zone. Turn off the lights and look around your bedroom. Are there any little pilot lights or flashing lights? Try to remove them if possible. Be aware of noises from electronic devices and such. Make your bedroom a quiet, still and dark place to rest.
And last but not least: Watch your screen time at night. Our eyes and the way they process light, including light waves from our screens, have a big impact on how awake the body is. One of the worst habits we’ve all developed is looking at our phones while trying to fall asleep. Biologically, this is the equivalent of watching the sunrise. Stop telling your body it’s time to get up while you’re trying to fall asleep. Instead, focus on calming activities like reading, talking with your partner, or meditating for an hour before you fall asleep. Reduce screen time for a few hours before bed, or at least invest in glasses with blue light filters or install an app that switches your display at night.
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