What you do in the few minutes before bed aren’t the only what help you get a rejuvenating night of sleep. There are things you can do throughout your whole day that will set you up to relax at bedtime and sleep soundly.
You only experience the kind of stress that keeps you wound up at night when you face situations that feel out of your control. The more control you have, the less stressed you feel. Strive to control what you CAN in any situation.
We can’t really “manage stress.” What we can do is “manage ourselves.” Here are 7 ways you can ‘manage yourself’ throughout your day that will help you sleep well at night.
I’m sure you “know” you should take care of yourself and you are probably saying to yourself: “Who has the time? It’s indulgent to take 3 minutes for myself, in that time I could be making doctor’s appointments for my children, sending my boss an update, or cleaning!” Women are 35% less likely to take breaks and are more likely to have a poor night’s sleep.
An optimal way of going through your day is to have “sprints” (intense focused concentration or mental/physical exertion) followed by brief periods of “recovery” (relaxing and replenishing your energy, even if it’s simply 3 minutes of deep breathing). When you exert energy and then follow it with a brief period of rejuvenation, these intermittent times of relaxation train your body to balance your On and the Off button. Research from the Energy Project shows that you will get more energy and feel more calm from this approach—yet you’ll be even more productive.
Stay Rational not Reactive
If you try and stay focused on facts in interpersonal situations (and not on how you feel personally) it will help you keep calm and not react, otherwise you may regret things you either said or didn’t say. With this in mind, you won’t have to rehash the scenario in the middle of the night!
The average business professional faces 7 interruptions (and up to 35 incoming emails) per hour. You can be in charge of how you respond to these incoming distractions. If you respond only to interruptions that are current priorities, and tell those you work and live with the best times to engage your attention, you will cut out some of the distractions that derail your day. You can end the day feeling satisfied with your accomplishments – and not feel guilty or overwhelmed before bedtime.
Sleep experts advise to go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every morning – even on weekends. A regular sleep routine keeps your biological clock steady so you rest better.
Exercise which includes some vigorous exercise improves the length and quality of your sleep. It stimulates longer periods of the deepest and most restorative stages of sleep. It gets all your stress out! It’s best to exercise in the morning or during the day because aerobic exercise keeps your body temperature elevated (and burning calories and fat) for about 4 hours afterward, and its optimal for sleep when your body is cooled off.
Eat bedtime snacks that promote sleep
Some nighttime noshes help you sleep and decrease mid-sleep waking. Try cherry juice, kiwis, or walnuts—they keep the amino acid tryptophan working longer within your body and are natural sources of sleep promoting hormones. Combine carbohydrates and either calcium or a protein that contains tryptophan (these combos boost serotonin, a naturally occurring brain chemical that helps you feel good and calm). Try eating a banana with a teaspoon of peanut butter, or a half piece of toast and some slices of turkey.
Pre-Sleep Wind Down Ritual
Start your sleep time wind down about an hour before you want to be asleep. Start by finishing up whatever is stimulating you. Do what you must to empty your head to let go of thoughts you might hang on to: Write down any ‘to do’ items for tomorrow to get them out of your head. Write down your worries (and the solutions you are committed to carrying out in the morning).
Once in bed, have a pre-sleep ritual to counter the buildup of stress hormones throughout the day. You might want to consider a brief reflection on what you are grateful for. Doing this will change your energy as it takes you out of your mental exertion and puts you into your heart energy. It will make you think of beautiful images as you fade off into the sleep sunset…
You don’t have to let stress get the best of you. There are SO many things that you can control during stressful days to stay calm and sleep well through the night.