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Can Stress Make You Sleep Less?

It’s Better Sleep Month. This is a good time to focus on what’s standing in the way of getting your best rest.

In our fast-paced, 24/7 world, with smartphones notifying us of every text and email, it isn’t easy to turn off the noise—literally and figuratively—and get to sleep.

And, the cruel joke is that the less you sleep, the less likely you are to be able to cope with the problems creating stress in the first place. Talk about a vicious cycle.

Now is a good time to re-evaluate and try some strategies to reduce stress and get the sleep you need.

Here are a few tips to break the cycle.

Strategies to Reduce Stress:

  • Don’t bring work into your bedroom. Make the place where you sleep a safe haven from the day’s angst.
  • Turn off your phone. OK, maybe that’s impractical if you need to be available for a family emergency, but most phones can be set to ring only for designated callers.
  • Get into a bedtime routine. Whether it’s a book, a warm shower, hot cocoa or gentle stretches, try to do the same things in the same order each night as a way to train your body to wind down.
  • Take a sleep environment inventory. Too much light? Get room-darkening shades. Is the temperature conducive to sleeping? Typically, the cooler the room, the better you sleep. Is it time to replace your mattress? (More on that in future blog posts!)
  • Keep a pad of paper and pen by the bed. If you are mentally reviewing or adding to your to-do list, take time to jot something down so you won’t stress about not remembering it later.
  • Try relaxation techniques, such as meditation, yoga, and deep breathing.
  • Try cognitive-focusing exercises, which use both the right and left spheres of your brain and can distract you from sleep-preventing thoughts. The most famous example: counting sheep.

One of the best strategies is to realize just how important sleep is to your overall health and quality of life. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say insufficient sleep is a public health epidemic, so you’re certainly not alone.

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