If your day contains a lot of stress, it can be difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep, which then might create more stress. Here are a few tips to help reduce your daily stress and prepare you for a good night’s rest.
1. Get Some Quiet Time With Someone You Like
Try spending ten or fifteen minutes of quiet time with your significant other or family member directly before bed. The idea is to create some pleasant relaxation time, so avoid major discussions or entertainment which includes cliffhangers. Adding another person into your routine will increase your accountability, and on busy days when it’s been difficult to speak to this person, you’ll be guaranteed a little bit of interaction. Some activities to try are body stretches, listening to soothing music, meditation or a short beauty treatment like a face mask or hand massage. If you live alone, you can do any quiet activity by yourself, or you might want to make a phone or video call.
2. Use Your Evening Commute Wisely
It may be hard to slow down for bed if your entire day has been going nonstop. Whether your evening commute is ten minutes or one hour, treat this time (as much as possible) as “me time”. This is an ideal time to avoid social media, as other people’s vacation pictures can bring you down after a 10-hour work day. Indulge in your favorite music, podcast or book. If you’re not driving, you might want to work on a hobby. Daydreaming is also a great option, or even singing in your car. The flow of creative energy will help you feel refreshed, and this break can help you process thoughts that might have built up over the course of the day.
3. Pay Attention to What Goes On and Around Your Bed
If your bed is not comfortable, then you won’t sleep well. The first question is your mattress, but there are other smaller things that can affect your sleep. Think about your bedding piece by piece: Is your pillow giving you enough support? Are the covers too warm, or not warm enough? Do you need to replace anything to prevent allergies? Do you like the material or feeling of your pillowcase and sheets?
Another thing to consider are those who are sharing your bed. Pets might move around too much or trigger allergies. Significant others may pull the covers or snore. Although there is a limit to what you can do about your bed mates, sometimes there might be an simple solution. For the blanket hogs, try giving each person their own covers.
Finally, you should ensure that the light and noise levels are at a comfortable level. Heavy curtains can create the pitch blackness you prefer, or a white noise machine may be helpful. Pay attention to how the streetlights or the moon come in through the window – sometimes you might just need to turn the blinds the other way to create more comfortable lighting.
4. Determine Your Personal Caffeine Cutoff Time
Stress and caffeine go hand in hand, so it’s worth discussing a few points on how to manage your consumption. It is generally advised that you should cut off your caffeine consumption sometime during the afternoon to prevent negative effects at bedtime. The exact time will differ from person to person, because caffeine is a drug and we all react differently depending on our body chemistry, age, weight and medications. Adults who are older and who weigh more might metabolize it at slower rate (which certainly explains why it was so much easier to fall asleep after guzzling coffee all day as an undergrad). Anti-depressants, anti-psychotics, heart medications, and hormonal contraception are among the types of medications that may slow caffeine metabolism. You may need to practice some trial and error to determine when you need to stop the caffeine. If you recently started a new medication and are wondering why you can’t sleep as easily, your cutoff time may be one of the reasons.