How do you relieve stress when you’re feeling particularly overwhelmed? Some of us head straight for the sweet Halloween treats and comfort foods, while others may need to work through the way they’re feeling on a long, early-morning jog.
Whatever you do to minimize the amount of stress you feel on any given day, it may shock you to learn this little secret: sleep is one of the greatest stress reducers.
How does sleep lead to stress relief?
American adults are notoriously lacking in sleep, with only 70% of adults reporting that they obtain insufficient sleep at least one night a month, and 11% reporting insufficient sleep every night. This is problematic not only because insufficient sleep can have a dramatic impact on public health and increase the risk of illness, but it also means that millions are losing out on an extremely important daily stress-relieving activity.
With the healing nature of sleep restoring your body overnight and regulating your mood, getting an adequate amount of rest each night is essential to full body health and wellness. If you’re never able to get high-quality, deep sleep, the negative effects of stress could eventually take a toll.
While a lack of sleep will reduce your energy and diminish your mental clarity, a regular sleep routine will calm the body and mind, improving your concentration and sharpening your judgement. Generally, people are better at problem-solving and much better at dealing with stress when well-rested.
Stress relief techniques for when you’re lying in bed
Here are three tips for minimizing the stress that you feel when it’s time for bed, so you can simply turn your focus to getting a good night’s rest in a peaceful state of mind.
1. Work hard to turn off your mind
When tomorrow’s to-do list is a mile long or you’re worried about the health of a family member, your mind will probably start racing right about the time your head hits the pillow. Instead of allowing it to get to this point and dealing with racing thoughts for hours as you try to sleep, find a way to shut off your mind that actually works for you. Whether it’s listening to a slow, soothing audiobook reading or it’s using a diffuser that also plays soft sleep-inducing music, there are plenty of ways to focus the mind on a distraction that helps you fall asleep.
2. Try Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Another great way to distract yourself from stressful emotions and thoughts is to get in touch with your physical body in bed. Get into your comfiest sleep position and turn your attention to relaxing physically. Take a few deep breaths. Begin tensing one group of muscles as you keep breathing gently. Hold the tension of the muscles as you inhale, then release it as you exhale. You should notice each muscle group slowly relax with your mental work, which will lead to an overall absence of tension--and stress.
3. Focus on deep, belly breathing
Similar to progressive muscle relaxation, you can also try focusing on just one aspect of your body in bed: your breathing. Don’t think too hard about the way you’re breathing; this can lead to even more thoughts in bed that keep you from falling asleep. Rather, breathe slowly in and out for five minutes, and make sure every inhale and exhale takes place deep in your belly. Deep-belly breathing will lead to further all-body relaxation, having the same effect as individual muscle relaxation.
Another great way to make sure your sleep environment is as comfortable and calming as it can be is to reconsider your bedding. There are many reasons why sleeping organic is helpful in promoting good, healthy sleep that mitigates stress. Read more about the top reasons to sleep organic.