Take a moment now to remember a time when you had a really stressful day. You felt absolutely exhausted, there was a lot going on and you did your best but you fell a bit short. And you know you’ve got it all to do again tomorrow, so you drag yourself up the stairs to bed, absolutely shattered. And then, as soon as your head hits the pillow, you are wide awake and going round and round are all the things you have done that day, how you could have done them differently, what you forgot to do and a huge list of things you’ve got to do tomorrow.
As a result, you have a naff night sleep, and get up feeling even more tired than when you went to bed.
That makes the difficult day ahead even harder to contend with. You feel shattered but wired. You need to think clearly but your brain feels foggy. You probably turn to sugar and caffeine to get you through, which works for a while but then makes you feel yacky.
And so the cycle begins.
Why is it that you struggle to sleep when you are stressed?
If you remember last week, I wrote about stress triggering the sympathetic nervous system, the fight flight mode which is designed to give you energy and keep you safe and alive in dangerous situations.
The changes it triggers in your body – increased adrenaline and cortisol production, blood directed to limbs, eyes widened to take in more information (and therefore light) are not conducive to a good sleep.
In fact, falling asleep easily, and enjoying a good quality sleep, requires almost the exact opposite.
What can you do about it?
- Have down time throughout the day.
The mind races when your head hits the pillow because it’s not had chance to process the day as its gone. As often as you can, take a few minutes to do absolutely nothing (put your phone down too!). This will help you be more productive during the day as well as helping you fall asleep.
- Stick to your routine as much as possible.
If you don’t have a bedtime routine you need to make it a priority! Be a good parent to yourself and set a reasonable bedtime and give yourself wind down time before then and make sure you ring fence that time as sacred.
- Have a cuddle.
Cuddling, and touch in general, triggers the release of oxytocin in your body. Oxytocin is known as the love hormone, but it also offsets adrenaline and cortisol and encourages your body back into rest and repair mode. It doesn’t matter if no one else is around, give yourself a cuddle or a little massage and it has the same effect. (This can also reduce pain FYI)
- Treat yourself like a pot plant.
The saying is that you are basically a pot plant with more complicated emotions. It’s kind of true. Staying hydrated helps your body to maintain the status quo, being dehydrated can feel much like being stressed or anxious so try to avoid it. Getting sunlight helps to maintain your circadian rhythm, which is like your internal clock, so will help you feel sleepy at the right time.
Anxiety affects everyone in different ways. Whether its general anxiety, phobias, addictions, habits, weight issues or anything else you do it your own way. So, it stands to reason that the solution should be as individual as you are. I use a range of techniques, such as Hypnosis/Hypnotherapy, Life Coaching, EFT, Reiki and many other tools I’ve picked up along the way to work with YOU to find the best fit. We can work online from the comfort of your own home, or you can arrange to come to my private therapy room near Carlisle, Cumbria.