Do you know what one of the most effective ways to de-stress is? It’s sleeping. Yes, exercise is great and meditation is a wonderful tool, but the best thing you can do to stress less on a regular basis is to get a goodnight sleep.
You already know this is true. Think about how much harder your job and your life in general feel after a night when you were up with the kids, or working until four in the morning to finish an important project. You get grumpy, it’s harder to focus, and every little problem suddenly becomes insurmountable. You feel a lot more stressed throughout the day and it only gets worse if you end up sleeping poorly for several days in a row.
Now here’s the interesting bit. The average person doesn’t get the optimal amount of sleep at night, and even when we do, our sleep quality often isn’t great. Too often our sleep is disrupted throughout the night, even if we don’t fully wake up and most of us struggle with falling asleep.
Thankfully there are a lot of things you can do to improve both the quantity and quality of sleep you get. Before you tell yourself that you can’t afford to sleep more, realize that not focusing on sleep will cause you to be less focused and productive. You’ll actually get more done by investing time into a good-night sleep.
Start by establishing a bedtime routine. Try to go to bed at the same time every night, even on the weekends. It helps your body get into a rhythm that makes falling asleep and staying asleep easier. Cut distractions from your bedroom. That means leaving your phone in the living room. If you need an alarm, go buy an alarm clock. You don’t want those alerts and notifications keeping you from getting into those all-important deep sleep zones. Turn off the lights and have a good look around your bedroom. Are there any small indicator lights or blinking lights? Try to remove them if possible. Listen for any sounds from electronics and the likes. Make your bedroom a calm, quiet, and dark place of rest.
Last but not least, watch your screen time at night. Our eyes and the way they process light, including the light waves from our screens have a big impact on how alert the body is. One of the worst habits we’ve all developed is to look at our phones while trying to go to sleep. Biologically it’s the equivalent of watching the sunrise. Stop telling your body it’s time to get up while you’re trying to go to sleep. Instead, focus on calming activities like reading, talking with your partner, or meditating for an hour before going to sleep. Reduce screen time for a few hours before bed or at the least invest in blue light filtered glasses or install an app that changes your display at night.