We’ve all been there: It’s the middle of the night and instead of getting some much-needed rest, we find ourselves tossing and turning and staring at the ceiling. It’s a common problem that some 70 million Americans struggle with, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
One of the main causes of this lack of sleep is stress. In fact, according to the American Psychological Association, 37% of adults report fatigue or feeling tired because of stress.
Stress keeps you from sleeping because the heightened state of alertness delays the onset of sleep and causes rapid, anxious thoughts to occur at night.
If stress keeps you from sleeping, here is what you can do to make sure you get the shuteye you need.
- Limit your screen time. Smartphones, televisions, tablets, and computer screens emit a blue light that can disturb your body’s internal clock, so turn them off as you get close to bedtime. Instead, find a tech-free way to wind down before you go to bed. One example might be getting into a warm bath or taking a warm shower, which can help you feel sleepy.
- Practice active relaxation. Close to bedtime, try practicing a relaxation strategy that incorporates mindfulness, deep breathing, or meditation, which can help to boost sleep time and quality.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol. These stimulants can keep you awake and keep you from having a good night’s sleep. Most recommendations say it is best to quit caffeine by noon. At the same time, be sure to look out for sources of caffeine that you may not think about, including chocolate, tea, and soda.
- Avoid heavy meals close to bedtime. A study found that eating within three hours of bedtime may lead to more sleep problems. Eating a heavy meal right before lying down can also cause heartburn, with accompanying discomfort that may make it even more difficult to sleep. If you do need something to eat before you can go to sleep, try a small, nutritious snack.
- Exercise regularly. Exercise is a stress reliever all on its own, but it can also help you sleep better. Be careful that you don’t exercise too close to when you typically go to bed because that can interfere with your ability to fall asleep.
- Try aromatherapy. There are some scents, such as lavender and peppermint, that have shown some promise for their ability to reduce anxiety and improve sleep quality.
- Listen to some soothing sounds. Nature sounds and white noise machines have been found to provide an especially relaxing soundscape. Experiment with different sleep sounds to see what will work best for you.
- Try cannabis. Marijuana is an effective, all-natural sleep aid that can help to restore your natural sleep cycle. Check out local places in your area, such as a PA dispensary or AZ dispensary, to find the right cannabis or CBD to get you sleeping.
- Try keeping a journal. If you find yourself waking up in the night because you can’t stop thinking about something that’s causing you stress during the day, journaling may be an effective technique for you. This can help you clear your mind, process strong emotions that are causing you to lose sleep, and brainstorm and construct plans that can help you manage the situations causing you stress.