Here are some scary statistics about our society:
- The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health found 75% of people experience some level of stress in a two-week period.
- 40% of workers report their jobs are very or extremely stressful, according to a NIOSH survey.
- The same survey says job stress is a bigger trigger of health problems than financial or family stresses.
- Canadians work an average of 1,702 hours per year, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
What’s even scarier is that stress is one of the most common triggers of nightmares and insomnia, not to mention various illnesses, diseases, and accidents.
Sadly, stress isn’t something we can just eliminate from our lives. Instead, we need to learn how to cope and take steps to ensure we can relax and get a better sleep.
Here are three tips to help you do just that.
Life is crazy, but we can bring a little order to the chaos. Our bodies run on a sleep-wake cycle called the “circadian clock’, which is our brain’s way of telling us it’s time to rest. To use it to your advantage (i.e. sleeping deeper, and waking up more rested), schedule a regular bedtime, wake up time, and stick to it, even on the weekends.
Enhance this and train yourself to relax and falling asleep faster by following a regular bedtime ritual. The National Sleep Foundation suggests a regular soak in the hot tub is a good place to start. Consider reading each night, or listening to music.
You may even want to spend time each night just staring at the stars or enjoying the peacefulness of the world around you. Whatever activities you choose to do to relax, make sure you do each activity in the right order, at the same time each night.
Create a Special “Sleep Space”
Design your bedroom to help you sleep. Add heavier curtains, and regulate the temperature to ensure the room is ideal for sleeping — it should be cool, quiet, and dark. Make sure you have a comfortable (and allergen-free) mattress, pillows, and coverings. This way, you won’t have to worry about anything bugging you while you rest.
You should also remove items that might make you think of anything other than sleeping. This includes computers, telephones, television sets, and anything that doesn’t fit into your bedtime routine.
Don’t Overdo It Before Bed
We all have habits and activities we enjoy. Some people like to run or exercise, while some enjoy fine dining, and others like to indulge in coffee, alcohol or chocolate while watching late night movies. There’s just one problem with all of these activities: they keep us awake.
If you’d like to exercise, enjoy a heavy meal, watch the news, enjoy scary movies, or drink a coffee or alcoholic beverage, do it 2-3 hours before bed. These activities wind us up, get our adrenaline pumping and get our bodies moving, rather than relax us and get us ready for a sleep. In fact, some people are so sensitive to caffeine and some of these other activities that it can still affect them up to 12 hours later. Nicotine and alcohol can do it too.
Getting a better sleep and lowering your stress level is well worth the effort. You’ll feel better, look better, and find you can work better too. Besides, who can turn down an opportunity to spend more time in the hot tub?