What Helps You Sleep When Stressed?

Stress and anxiety can make it incredibly difficult to get a good night’s sleep. When your mind is racing and your body is tense, relaxing enough to fall asleep can feel next to impossible. However, there are many techniques you can try that may help improve your sleep when you’re feeling overwhelmed or anxious.

Practice Relaxation Techniques

Relaxation techniques like deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and meditation can activate the parasympathetic nervous system and induce feelings of calmness. This counters your body’s fight-or-flight stress response. Try setting aside 15-20 minutes before bed to practice deep breathing exercises, tensing and relaxing different muscle groups, or quietly focusing your attention on something soothing like a mantra or the flame of a candle.

Take A Warm Bath

A warm bath raises your body temperature slightly, then the subsequent drop in temperature after getting out of the bath mimics the temperature change your body goes through as it falls asleep. A warm bath can relax tense muscles and calm racing thoughts, preparing both body and mind for sleep. Add epsom salts or lavender oil to amplify the relaxing effects.

Listen To Soothing Music

Listening to gentle, calming music before bedtime can quiet ruminating thoughts and anxious feelings. Ambient or nature sounds, white noise, classical, or acoustic guitar music promote relaxation. Make a stress-relieving playlist to listen to while you unwind before bed. Having a consistent bedtime music ritual signals to your body that it’s time for rest.

Write Down Your Thoughts

If you find your mind racing with stressful thoughts when you lie down to go to sleep, keeping a pen and paper by your bedside can be helpful. Jot down the thoughts that are keeping you up. This releases them from your mind and onto the page so you don’t feel like you have to keep dwelling on them. Writing things down can ease anxiety and help clear your mind for sleep.

Read A Book

Immersing yourself in a book gives your mind something to focus on other than the stress of the day. Reading draws your attention away from anxious, repetitive thoughts and engages your imagination in a tranquil, positive way. Stick to print books rather than digital devices to avoid disruptive blue light exposure. Choose interesting yet soothing reading material.

Avoid Pre-Bed Screen Time

Power down TVs, laptops, smartphones and other screens at least one hour before bedtime. The blue light emitted from electronic devices inhibits melatonin production, making it harder for you to fall and stay asleep. Disconnecting from digital stimulation allows your mind to unwind.

Talk To Someone

If your stress and anxiety are keeping you up at night, it can be helpful to talk through what’s on your mind with a trusted friend or family member. Share what’s worrying you and ask for their perspective. Feeling listened to and supported can take some weight off your shoulders, making it easier to switch off your thoughts at bedtime.

Consider discussing your sleep issues with your doctor if stress is severely impacting your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. They may prescribe medication to relieve anxiety and promote sleep, or refer you to a psychologist for therapy to manage stress in a healthy way. The right treatment plan can help you develop resilience against the pressures of daily life and regain restful sleep.