At the end of a stressful day, sometimes the only thing you want to do is come home to a cozy down comforter and go to sleep. But for many people, stress-induced insomnia makes that impossible. Instead of the deep, restorative sleep you need, you lie awake unable to shut your mind off.
Around 1 in 3 Americans experience insomnia of some kind so how can you tell if your insomnia is related to stress? Look for when it began or correlations in your daily life. Do you only have a trouble sleeping before a big meeting? Or did your troubles start when your new manager came on board? It can also help to look at the reasons why you can't seem to fall asleep. Is your mind too focused on running through your presentation? Are your muscles too tense to get comfortable? All of these could be signs that your troubles stem from stress.
So how do you chill out long enough to fall asleep?
Left Nostril Breathing:
Listen, it sounds nuts but there is a nerve in your left nostril that stimulates the part of your nervous system that helps with relaxation. Just hold your thumb or index finger over your right nostril and breathe normally while keeping it covered.
De-stress before bed:
-Drink warm milk (it has the sleep-inducing amino acid Tryptophan in it!), chamomile or peppermint tea
-Avoid blue light an hour before your desired bedtime
-Take a relaxing bath
-Read a book or magazine
Adjust Your Sleep Schedule:
It's better to get consecutive sleep so that your body can go into REM. To help with this, adjust your bedtime. If you're only able to get around five hours of sleep cumulatively, then go to bed at a time that allows you only five hours before your alarm is set. You'll likely be more tired from prolonging your bedtime, and the sleep you are able to get will be more restorative.
Once you start to get used to this schedule or your stress stops, you can add time back into your sleep schedule.
Look At Your Diet:
There is a reason we gravitate towards certain foods when we are stressed. Carbohydrates increase levels of serotonin, fatty acids help reduce stress and anxiety, and the vitamin B in nuts can help improve your mood as well, not to mention that crunchy food is known to help with stress as well.
Magnesium, a mineral a lot of people in urban locations don't get naturally, can help relax muscles and ease stress and anxiety.
The Root Of The Problem:
Ultimately, if something in your life is consistently keeping you up at night, you may need to evaluate a more long term solution. Can you ask a coworker for help with one of your more stressful tasks? Could you adjust your schedule to allow more time to complete a presentation in small parts instead of one stressful push? Maybe leaving early on Fridays to take a yoga class or using your lunch to meditate in your office could help? Evaluate what the cause of your stress is and look for solutions. Sleep is important for our focus, brain function, attention to detail, and health. You can't do your best if you aren't rested.