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Anxiety and stress often cause us to have trouble with sleep – and working flat-out sometimes has the effect of keeping us awake at night as well.
We found a useful article in the Huffington Post about tips to help with sleeping. These are the highlights:
1 – Recognise that interrupted sleep is a normal response to 2020! Waking up at night is a normal response to stress, and it doesn’t help to get frustrated about it.
2 – Make your bedroom a place for sleep, not work, exercise, scrolling through the news. Your bed can become associated with the news, or discussing financial problems with your spouse (because that’s the only time you see them without the kids around), and your brain can pick up on this, and start sending signals for those activities, not sleep.
3 – Keep a set timetable for waking, and go to be when you’re tired. Your body will appreciate the regular wake-up call, and it’s healthier to go to be only when you’re tired.
4 – Daily exercise will help you sleep, and exercise outside is even better. Exercise releases endorphins, which help reduce stress, and also help your brain want to rest. Sunlight during the day also helps your body want to sleep when it gets dark.
5 – A regular meal routine helps. three or four meals a day, in a regular pattern, helps the brain to recognise the pattern of your day, and when you need to be sleeping.
6 – Learn the difference between being sleepy, and being tired. When you’re tired, the cure is rest, which may not look like sleep, and could involve a shower, or a walk, or a good book. When you’re sleepy, your eyes can’t stay open, and you can’t concentrate – and then you need sleep.
7 – Get out of bed if you start to have anxious thoughts. The body’s anxiety response goes directly against sleep, so break the pattern of bedtime = anxious thoughts = no sleep. I t can help to journal the thoughts, either before bedtime, or by getting up if they strike once you’re in bed, to clear them out of the way of your sleep.
8 – Do something ‘mindless’ before bedtime. A good example is folding clothes, doing the dishes, or preparing lunch for tomorrow, rather than scrolling through news feeds. The activity can become almost meditative, requiring little conscious thought. Or use a deliberate meditation technique.