19 Nov How to Manage Stress at Bedtime
Everyone deals with stress. It’s a part of daily life. And eight in 10 Americans say they feel stress sometimes or frequently during the day.
Stress is a natural reaction to challenges. When we’re stressed, we get a boost of energy with an elevated heart rate and higher blood pressure. It’s nature’s way of offering support as we deal with threats or challenges. However, experiencing stress all day every day is not good for your health, and can result in increased cardiovascular risk, smoking, overeating, and headaches. Common sources of stress include politics, money, work, violence, and crime.
But for some people, stress is debilitating, and can interfere with sleep quality. We may stay up at night thinking anxious thoughts, or find it difficult to get good quality rest while feeling particularly stressed.
In fact, it’s common for adults who experience high stress to say they don’t sleep enough because their minds race at night. And 35 percent of teens, 31 percent of Millennials, and 27 percent of Gen Xers say stress keeps them up at night.
And although stress can so easily interfere with sleep, getting a good night’s sleep can relieve stress. When we’re well rested, we’re more mentally and physically prepared to face the challenges of the day at full capacity. If we’re short on sleep, we may struggle to concentrate, manage emotions, or deal well with fatigue.
What to Do to Relieve Stress and Sleep Well
Combining stress relief and healthy sleep habits can offer a better night’s sleep and may improve your stress levels throughout the day. Take these steps for relief:
- Manage stress with relaxation practices. Proven stress relievers may make it easier to calm down and relax before bed and get a good night’s sleep. Practice yoga or meditation as part of a bedtime routine to wind down and release tension before it’s time to rest.
- Keep a journal next to bed. If stressful thoughts at night are a problem, a journal may help.
- Address fears. It’s ok to feel scared at night sometimes. Dark shadows, strange noises, and general uneasiness plague adults as well as children. Consider comfort items, such as a nightlight, which may make it easier to feel more secure at night.
- Commit to healthy sleep. Good sleep can support stress relief, so practice healthy sleep habits. Keep a regular sleep schedule and maintain a regular bedtime routine. Steer clear of pitfalls including late night screen time and caffeine.
- Get support for stress. No one has to go it alone when dealing with stress. Talk to friends, family, and counselors who can help when working through stressful situations that call for help.
- Eliminate stress as much as possible. Overdoing it can easily lead to stress, so it may be a good idea to cut back. If possible, eliminate stressful activities and prioritize commitments.
Stress and sleep often go hand in hand, so improving one can often improve the other. Focus on managing stress and practicing healthy sleep habits to support good mental health.
Sara Westgreen is a researcher for the sleep science hub Tuck.com. She sleeps on a king size bed in Texas, where she defends her territory against cats all night. A mother of three, she enjoys beer, board games, and getting as much sleep as she can get her hands on.